Tarn-et-Garonne was created in 1808 on an order by Napoleon I during the First French Empire. It was formed out of territories belonging to neighbouring departments including the Lot, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, Gers, and Aveyron.
The Tarn-et-Garonne (department number 82) is located in the region of Midi-Pyrénées in the South West of France and has an estimated population of 206,034 (approximate in 1999). The capital of the department is Montauban with the town of Castelsarrasin within the immediate area.
There are three rivers which wind their way through the department; the Tarn, the Garonne and the Aveyron.
Why you should visit Tarn-et-Garonne for your next holiday in France
Tarn-et-Garonne is central to the region with many medieval hillside villages and the breathtakingly beautiful Gorges of the Aveyron.
If you wish to spend an active holiday in France, then like a lot of the Midi Pyrenees, the Tarn-et-Garonne is good cycling country. Given the number of rivers running through the department, the Tarn-et-Garonne is also ideal for white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking. Other activities such as horse-riding, gliding and golf are all on offer.
The climate is a cross between Atlantic Maritime and Mediterranean. Early springs, long hot summers and short mild winters when it can be drizzly.
What to see in the Tarn-et-Garonne
Prosperous Montauban is the departmental capital and home to just over 53,000 people. Located just 31 miles north of Toulouse it stands on the right bank of the River Tarn. Montauban is the oldest of the bastides of southern France, with the exception of Mont-de-Marsan.
The city was originally called Mont Alba (Mount Willow in Occitan) and there are still a large number of willow trees in the town. There are plenty of museums, monuments and historical buildings to discover in Montauban. A huge variety of shops, restaurants and quaint little cafes allow you to while away your time when you are not enjoying the sites.
The historic and interesting town of Castelsarrasin is set amidst the large fertile plains of the Tarn-et-Garonne. The town is situated on the left bank of the Lateral Canal de la Garonne. Barges can often be seen mooring up and the town is a starting and finishing point for cruises. The first sign of life in the town dates from 961 and today Castelsarrasin is a lively place offering a range of shopping and dining. The Church of Saint-Saveur in Castelsarrasin makes an interesting visit.
With just over 12,000 inhabitants, Moissac is a small and friendly town. The main place of interest here is the Abbaye de St-Pierre with a magnificent sculpture of Jesus taking centre stage inside. This sculpture is unusual in that Jesus is portrayed as having three arms and hands: one holding the book of life, another issuing a blessing and his remaining hand is over his heart.
St-Antonin Noble Val
The pretty little town of St-Antonin Noble Val is not to be missed while in the area. It is located adjacent to the River Aveyron and is one of the Midi-Pyrenees oldest settlements. Situated beneath the towering Roc d’Anglais, it makes a great base for exploring the wild countryside and the Grotte du Bosc caves. The town is home to the 'Maison des Consuls', known to be the first civic building in France it was built in 1125. Today the building is a museum. An excellent market is held every Sunday morning and is well worth a visit.
Caussade is a small market town and well worth a visit. As with the other towns and villages of the department, Caussade is very traditional in appearance and offers a chance to experience French living in all its glory.
How to get to Tarn-et-Garonne
The international airport at Toulouse has a wide range of connections to all parts of the UK, including cheap airlines such as Easyjet, Bmi, Bmibaby, Flybe and EUJet as well as BA and Air France. Ryanair also fly to Rodez.
The easiest route is from Calais. Take the A26 & A1 to Paris then the A10, A71 and A20 which runs straight through the middle of the Midi Pyrenees.
The journey is approx 850km to the northern end of the Midi Pyrenees and will take around 8-9 hours depending on length of stops.
The Motorail service runs fro Calais to Toulouse throughout the holiday season and from Paris (Austerlitz) to Toulouse during the rest of the year.
There is a regular service between Paris (Austerlitz) and Toulouse by TGV throughout the year including the night train with either Couchettes or wagon lits.