Cité de Condom. Direct translation: City of Condom. Now, if I was immature, this article could be riddled with innuendos and double entendres about phallic shaped buildings or rubber merchandise. But, like a condom, I will endeavour to protect you from such silliness. Although I can’t guarantee 100% efficiency, a few jokes may slip through. After all, accidents do happen.
Situated in the Midi Pyrenees in the South of France, Condom is technically a city although I would say that it is more like a town. Don’t get me wrong, it is stunning and fairly big, but it’s no Paris. And what makes it a city? The former Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Condom. That’s right folks, there was once a Bishop of Condom who worshipped in Condom Cathedral. Classic. Ironically, Condom is a catholic city and sits on one of the three arms of the Way of St. James pilgrimage. Every year, the city sees travellers from all over the world take to it’s streets on their way to worship in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It is a wonder to see catholic pilgrims riding on horseback through Condom.
The city is also referred to as Condom-de-Armagnac as Armagnac was once it’s main export. The brandy is made from distilled wine and has a rich flavour, without burning your throat. The city boasts that the drink is the favourite brandy of d’Artagnan, from Alexandre Dumas’ ‘Three Musketeers’, who is supposed to have been born in the Armagnac area. You can order a glass of it from almost any restaurant, but there are also places you can visit for tasting. The South of France is home to many an orchard, vineyard, and various other fruit-growing harvesting fields, so some of the surrounding villages distill their own. The Chateau de Cassaigne is a short car journey from Condom (around seven kilometres) and offers a range of flavours of the brandy, all made on the site. If you get a chance, try some of the Pruneaux et Armagnac. It tastes like summer with a bit of Christmas, creating a beautiful blend of flavours, which proves easy to swallow. A happy ending all around.
However unromantic the name is and it’s connotations, the city is beautiful. You can enjoy a hearty meal at a Pizzéria on a cobbled street, or a coffee and cake in a café, which doubles up as a bookshop in the town square, or you can simply enjoy a stroll through the Cathedral. Daytime jaunts can also be found on the river Baïse (which, without the umlaut over the ‘I’, baise is a naughty French word for sex) which flows through Condom. It is possible to hire boats by the hour or for the day, seating any number from two passengers to eight. Boating along the river gives you an insight to the French countryside and through the neighbouring villages. Why not stop for a drink whilst you are there?
I wouldn’t say that Condom was anything overly special – it offers most attractions other towns in the South of France offer, but why not holiday in a place called Condom? ‘Condom’ has no meaning in the French language (they call them préservatifs), so it is actually a family friendly place to visit, as well as a break for two. Cité de Condom is a safe, clean and beautiful place to visit, whether it is for a one off trip or place you intend to return to.