Charming villages, inspiring museums, generous nature, gourmet cuisine… The Tarn lends itself well to invigorating getaways in any season, for a weekend or a longer stay. Here are some suggestions for doing yourself some good, near Cordes-sur-Ciel, "French Tuscany" or the Tarn valley ...
The Tarn, so generous ...
Rivers to bathe in, good food to taste, medieval villages to walk ... In the Tarn, there is really something to marvel at. Or, rather, something to “hope for”, as we like to say around here, in Occitan. A corner where you take the time to live and appreciate the simple things. Simple… like a foot bath in the emerald waters of the Tarn!
By car to the Sorèze school.
Suddenly, a small village of Mésur-Ciel, Lautrec ... Two jewels. A little further, it feels like Italy: in the vicinity of Gaillac, where the valleys flirt with the vineyard, the Tarn takes on the air of Tuscany. And then an hour's drive later, we find ourselves in the heart of an incredible country: that of Sidobre, with impressive granite rocks.
But the Tarn would not be the Tarn without the Tarnais ... Their singing accent, their jerk (not to say their banter there are whole and terribly endearing. Cliché? No, truth. With passion, they touple us - sorry, cook ! - good little dishes, like Lautrec's pink garlic soup ...
One thing is certain: we leave Tarn with a light heart and a head full of memories. And even full suitcases, if you want, because there is no shortage of good products! There is something to treat (yourself): Lacaune cold meats, pastel oil soaps, pastel-dyed clothes, Gaillac wines, pink garlic manouilles ... Not to mention Albi's pottery, all unique and always turned by hand, for centuries.
From Cordes-sur-Ciel to Lautrec
Early in the morning when Cordes-sur-Ciel awakens, the village perched on a hill seems to float in the clouds. Like a certain castle in the sky… Built in 1222 at the time of the repression against the Cathars, this medieval city surrounded by ramparts is the most visited of the “bastides” of the Tarn, which has forty-eight.
Facing the impressive Ormeaux gate - the first to be built - we are about to take a big step into the past. From cobblestone streets to cobblestone streets, we find ourselves Place de la Halle. It is here that in the Middle Ages, the Cordes sold canvas, leather, rope, grain… All around, one admires magnificent bourgeois residences in Gothic style (13C). Installed on the old sunny terraces of the village, the Garden of Paradise, classified "Remarkable Garden", is also worth a visit. With so many assets, Cordes-sur-Ciel was elected "favorite village of the French" in 2014. The writer Albert Camus lived there… We can understand why.
About sixty kilometers to the south, here is the other jewel of the Tarn: the village of Lautrec, in the aptly named Cockayne country, known for his pastel. This blue gold, which made the fortune and the fame of the region, is nothing other than a plant transformed into a "ball of cocagne".
But the number one star in Lautrec is pink garlic. There is also an IGP (protected geographical indication) coupled with a Label Rouge: Lautrec's pink garlic (the one that is not labeled is called ail rose du Tarn). As we walk, we see the fields (in spring) and large drying racks filled with hanging (in July, after the harvest) in the yards of the farms.
In Lautrec, we also meet, in the street, small hands, busy peeling them: several layers have to be removed before seeing the pink! They are then made into clusters (the "manouilles") and not into braids, their floral stems being rigid.
Three nice hikes are to be done around this village where the Toulouse-Lautrec family comes from: the Tumulus (3 h, 13 km), the Sentier des crêtes (1 h 30, 5,6 km) and the Sentier de l garlic (2 hrs, 8 km).
Between Cordes-sur-Ciel and Lautrec, it takes about an hour by car. Depending on the route chosen, we can either stop at Albi either to Gaillac (with the pretty houses which are reflected in the Agout) and Castelnau-de-Montmiral (another medieval village elected most beautiful village in France).
Sorèze abbey-school - Dom Robert museum
It is the story of a magnificent abbey, yesterday Royal Military School, today a cultural place with two very unique museums. And both very interesting.
It all began in 754, when an abbey was built in Sorèze, Benedictine in the Middle Ages, then Royal Military School in the 18th century. and private college under the direction of Père Lacordaire. Internationally renowned, the institution provided new learning methods for the time, until it closed in 1991.
Today, it houses two museums of great interest. The first immerses us in the daily life of the residents in uniform, even in their dormitory with very small rooms. Hugues Aufray, Julien Lepers and the Bogdanoff Brothers are among the personalities to have frequented its benches.
Sorèze abbey houses, upstairs, a museum of a completely different kind: that of Dom Robert and 20th century tapestry. Designer from a young age, this Benedictine monk (1907-1997) who became a priest was a great lover of nature, divine in his eyes. He spent hours immortalizing the Tarn landscapes in his drawings, watercolors and cardboard boxes, in the vicinity of the Abbey of En-Calcat, where he lived.
A meeting with the great Jean Lurçat gave him the idea to try his hand at tapestry. In 1941, he had the very first one, entitled Summer, woven in a workshop in Aubusson. Unsurprisingly, nature is omnipresent and in particular the farmyard animals (peacocks, roosters, etc.) which he particularly likes. We constantly find them in his bucolic and very colorful works, alongside flowers - many flowers in umbels - and butterflies. Wonderful and inspiring.
After the visit, the village of Sorèze, pretty, worth a stroll.
The Tarn, an ode to nature
Mountains, plateaus, rivers, hillsides, plain… A beautiful palette of Tarn landscapes to discover over some 7 km of marked hiking trails.
Let's start by changing our planet - or, rather, rediscover our own millions of years ago - by strolling through the Sidobre country. We are here on the largest granite plateau in Europe, in the heart of Haut-Languedoc regional natural park. A unique geological exception in Europe. Land of legends, Sidobre is dotted with large granite blocks which seem to have landed there like meteorites fallen from the sky. And yet, they are well anchored in the ground!
The " Peyro clabado Is undoubtedly the most emblematic of all: on a small base of one square meter, a large block of 800 tons seems to be balanced. Impressive! It's a bit like the Eiffel Tower in the area and we don't think so well put: the sidewalks of the Champs-Élysées were made with granite from here! To know everything about the exploitation of granite, we go to Sidobre House, in Le Bez.
and Tarn valley, so ? A spectacular corner and an absolute favorite for the Ambialet peninsula, where the Tarn forms a 3 km loop. This is clearly visible from the panorama offered up there by the old monastery. You can get there by car or by heritage trail (3,5 km). We see the kayakers (miniature!) Venturing on the emerald waters of the Tarn. Up there we have only one desire: to go back down to splash around - or twist - near the bridge.
Now head for the little French Tuscany, in the vicinity of Gaillac. Hey, hey, wouldn't that be the name of a terroir wine dear to the Tarnais? Certainly, and it is to him that we owe these magnificent landscapes of vines rolling down the hillsides. Umbrella pines and rows of cypress trees complete the whole. A place out of time!
To gain altitude, go to the mountains of Lacaune, at the top of the Montalet peak, one of the highest in the Tarn (1 m). This is also where the famous Tarn cured meats and cold meats come from, as well as Roquefort.
Find all the practical information, tips and addresses in the Routard Lot, Aveyron, Tarn bookstores.
How to get there ?
By train :
TGV Paris-Toulouse (from 4:17) or Intercités to Toulouse and TER Toulouse-Albi (56 min).
By plane + car
Flights Paris-Castres / Mazamet with HOP! (then 45 min drive to Albi) or flights to Toulouse Blagnac (1 hour drive from Albi) from several French airports.
Albi is located 698 km from Paris (7 hour drive), 312 km from Bordeaux (3 hour drive), 77 km from Toulouse (1 hour drive), 197 km from Montpellier (3 hour drive).
- The Hôtellerie du Vieux Cordes: 21, rue Saint-Michel, 81170 Cordes-sur-Ciel. To enjoy simple and tasty dishes in a pretty interior courtyard.
- Bed & Breakfast Les chambres de La Caussade : rue de la Caussade in Lautrec. With Brigitte, it deposits in the kitchen! If you don't know what "bed and breakfast" means, you will quickly find out. Here, we are truly at Brigitte's and, for all that, we have never felt so much at home. With great care, she cooks good little dishes for us and in particular this famous garlic soup ... At breakfast, she makes us melt with her house jams available to infinity: apricot, guigne, rhubarb, strawberry, redcurrant, watermelon… Hard, hard to leave! Count 62 € for two, table d'hôtes 23 €. Phone. : 05 63 75 33 21. E-mail: email@example.com
- Le Logis des Pères in Sorèze: 18, rue Lacordaire in Sorèze. In the abbey-school, sober rooms with a small desk that recall the past of the place. View either on the Cour des Rouges and the bell tower, or on the park. A beautiful address, count 65 € the double.
- Pub Saint-Martin : 8, rue Saint-Martin in Sorèze. For a simple, rustic and inexpensive lunch… While waiting for the abbey, just opposite, to reopen its doors at the beginning of the afternoon. Convenient !
- Restaurant Louis: 27, avenue du Sidobre, in Burlats. At the gates of Sidobre, good inventive dishes based on fresh and seasonal products. Very pleasant terrace. Menus 23-60 €.
- Château de Salettes in Cahuzac-sur-Vère. The former Toulouse-Lautrec property overlooks little French Tuscany with its Gaillac vineyards, umbrella pines and cypresses. Magnificent swimming pool and comfortable rooms. Also a spa area and a gourmet table (chef Ludovic Dziewulski). A magical place. Doubles from € 145.
Buy frompink garlic from Lautrec IGP / Label Rouge to a producer: Maison Mas (direct sale). Phone. : 05 63 55 56 37. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pain et Nature: Puycalvel (and in Lautrec) very good organic breads and cookies, sold on site and in certain stores (BIOCOOP mainly) and, in the center of Lautrec, at the UTILE grocery store.