Tarn in the Occitanie region, (formerly Languedoc Roussillon), borders Toulouse in southwest France. It’s a land of open spaces and glorious unspoiled countryside, perfect for cyclists and hikers. Covered in lush forests and vineyards, rivers, including the Tarn which gave it its name, and lakes, the area is peppered with castles and beautiful villages. With the golden sandy beaches of the Mediterranean within easy distance, a holiday in the Tarn offers something to please everyone.
Here are some of our favourite things to do and see in the Tarn…
Enjoy the glorious countryside
Think Yorkshire Dales meets Cheddar Gorge and the Peak district, mixed in with the Cotswolds for good measure – you have the Tarn. Picturesque, green and rolling, dramatic, and brimming with things to see. It’s perfect for lovers of the great outdoors. Cyclists will find the roads are scenic and traffic-free. And, the region has plenty of sunshine.
The capital of Tarn, Albi, is about hour west of Toulouse. The city is dominated by the monumental 13th century Sainte-Cécile Cathedral, part of the UNESCO listed Episcopal City. The listing also includes the Palais de la Berbie, the palace’s riverside gardens, the Saint Salvi church and the Pont Vieux. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the famous artist, was born here and there is a wonderful collection of his work in the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. The old quarter is enchanting, the perfect place to take a break at a café and watch the world go by with a glass of local wine from the world-famous Appellation Gaillac vineyards.
Cordes-sur-Ciel is a medieval hilltop town, it’s buildings are literally in the clouds…
“One travels over the years without quite knowing what one is searching for, wandering amid the clatter, caught up with desires or regrets, and one arrives unexpectedly in one from those two or three places which await each one of us in this world. The traveller who, from the terraces of Cordes, looks at the summer night sky, knows that he needs to travel no further, because the beauty here, day after day, will remove any loneliness.” So said Albert Camus. The French philosopher and writer fell under the spell of this town in the sky like many artists over the years.
The town’s narrow cobble-stone streets, arches and winding lanes lined with beautiful stone buildings, art galleries and craft shops are truly charming.
Around 45 minutes south of Albi, the city of Castres, is well worth visiting. There’s a fabulous Saturday morning market which fills the whole of Place Jean Jaurès. Head to the Quai des Jacobins for wonderful views over the medieval multi-storey tanners' and dyers' houses which line the River Agout, AKA the Venice of Languedoc. The Goya Museum is superb. Castres is the gateway to the Montagne Noire.
Get off the beaten track | Les Cammazes
In the Tarn’s Montagne Noire, Les Cammazes is a tiny but very surprising village. Here you can see the UNESCO listed Rigole de la Montagne, or Mountain Channel, which supplies water to the UNESCO listed Canal du Midi. Built in 1666 by the 122m underground aqueduct is open to the public. Beware, if you’re claustrophobic you won’t enjoy the dark narrow tunnels but it is a unique and unusual experience.
How to get to the Tarn
By air: Blagnac Airport, Carcassonne Airport and Rodez Airport make travel by air easy from the UK and Ireland.
Autoroutes serve the area from all directions. High speed trains run to Albi, the capital and there are local connections to main towns.
We have lots of fabulous holiday rental listings in the Tarn, check out our great selection here: frenchconnections.co.uk/accommodation/tarn