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TARN ET GARONNE - The great fluvial valleys

Carte du Tarn-et-Garonne, Les Grandes Vallées Fluviales

Map of Tarn-et-Garonne, The great fluvial valleys

Montauban is a beautiful welcoming pink town (pink because of the bricks used) located in the heart of the great fluvial valleys of the Aveyron and Tarn rivers. The Canal des deux-mers (two seas canal) is a guiding thread to follow, bringing you (by bike or by boat) towards Toulouse on one side and Bordeaux on the other. Along the way, some lovely small towns are worth a stop, either for a short visit or for a weekend. Following the rivers, explore this region through river trips best suited for family holidays, romantic wanders or with friends... beautiful landscapes guaranteed !

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Valence

On the Garonne River, Valence-d'Agen is a 13th century bastide where the water is ever-present. Discover some beautiful small and large fountains, as well as two splendid wash houses : the Théron wash house and the Saint-Bernard wash house. The Tuesday morning market takes place in a beautiful covered market, not far from the Place National, Church of Notre-Dame and a beautiful dovecot. But the real beauty and wealth of the town is its Port-Canal des Deux Mers (two seas canal), linking Bordeaux and Toulouse. Take a pleasant stroll along the canal to find coolness during summer and enjoy the superb light and sound show « Au fil de l’eau… une histoire », in the middle of the summer. If you are on a family cycling trip or alone on the canal, take advantage of the “halte de Valence” (stop over), where you can find all the amenities you need.

 

Valence d'Agen, La Garonne

 Valence d'Agen, The Garonne

Auvillar

Since 1994, this village, located near the Garonne River, has been listed as one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" (most beautiful villages of France) so don't miss it ! Located on a rocky promontory, on the road to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle (Via Podiensis), discover a surprising and unique (in the southwest) old circular corner market built using columns. Auvillar is a tourist and artist spot, with many art galleries, and a museum which exhibits a collection of faience (pottery) which was made in the town during the 18th century. Make sure you see the Tour de l'Horloge (clock tower), brick built, which houses the Musée de la Batellerie (inland water transport Museum), Saint-Pierre Church and Sainte-Catherine-du-Port Chapel.

Auvillar

Auvillar
La Halle aux grains circulaire d'Auvillar

 Auvillar

Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

Perfect for a weekend visit, this well located village pleases the people of the neighbouring towns. Take a walk and admire the Castle of Richard the Lionheart with its 4 towers (where Richard stayed) which now houses the Town Hall. The village church was rebuilt during the 17th century with a Toulousain style bell. There is also the Moutet Church, with its thick walls of raw earth, its wall-belfry and its rustic furnishings. 


The best tips and plans of Tarn Aveyron in Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave:

  • Visit the Lamothe-Cadillac Museum, to learn more about the man who was the founder of the city of Détroit in the United States.
  • During summer, but also all year, go to the beautiful leisure activity centre Plage82, which has swimming pools, sand, and water activities (boats, canoes, wind surfing, water bikes...).

 

Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave et ses briques rouges
Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

Castelsarrasin

This is the second commune of the department in Tarn-et-Garonne, in regards to population and economy. Located between Bordeaux and Narbonne via Toulouse, towards the end of the Languedoc, Castelsarrasin is a flower-filled town. A few kilometres to the west of Montauban, you can find all the amenities you need. The town houses the Church of Saint-Sauveur which has an octagonal bell tower and is built in the Toulousain brick style ; there are also the Churches of Saint-Jean and of Notre- Dame d'Alem. Check out the clock on the Town Hall which is flanked by 2 statues. Have a walk on the metal footbridge, along the Garonne canal, next to the train station.


Carry on your walk of discovery into the town centre, where beautiful houses can be seen : Maison Renaissance, Hôtel Lamothe-Cadillac, Maison de l'abbé des Prades, La rue de la Discrétion and Rue de la Solitude are typical of the Middle Ages. It is pleasant to stroll round the harbour, along the canal, towards the lock... 


The best tips and plans of Tarn Aveyron in Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave :

  • Close to the town, The Lac de Fourrières, Lac de Monestie and Lac des Trescasses are great fishing spots. There are also lovely walks, but bathing is not allowed.
  • There are a lot of sporting facilities in and around the town : stadium, tennis courts, swimming pool, racecourse...
  • Go for a family walk in Parc de Clairefont, on 7hectares of green land, you will find a children's playground, a sport trail.

 Castelsarrasin, au bord du canal de Garonne


Montech

On the alluvial plain of the Garonne River, 10 kilometres from Montauban, Montech is a dynamic town. The town is crossed by many streams, by the Canal des Deux-Mers (two seas canal) and houses a superb state-run forest, the Forêt d'Agre (1,474 hectares – 3,642 acres) : a perfect place to see deer, boar, foxes and rabbits. If you are on holiday with your family, this forest is full of walks. Notre-Dame-de-la-Visitation is a gothic style church, with 17 bells, some of which date from many centuries ago. In Montech there is also a “halte nautique”, for cruises on the Canal and also the Pente d'eau (water slope), an ingenious system that lifts boats past 5 locks (thus gaining time !).

 

Montech, canal latéral de Garonne

 Montech

Verdun-sur-Garonne

Inhabited since Palaeolithic times, Verdun-sur-Garonne is a town which is located on the left bank of the Garonne River. It is a former fortified city. Start your tour by the Castrum (the oldest part of the town), go via the brick Tour de l'Horloge (clock tower) and carry on towards the 17th century covered market hall. Far in the distance, you can see the Castle of Queen Margot and its tower. Walk through the Ile de Labreille, a 32 hectare (79 acre) area, protected by a meander in the Garonne River. There is a beautiful hiking path, without vehicles, perfect for enjoying a peaceful moment, fishing or for discovering the fauna and flora.

 

Verdun-sur-Garonne et la Tour de l'Horloge

 Verdun-sur-Garonne 

Grisolles

Another commune along the Canal des Deux-mers (two seas canal) : is Grisolles which is a good place for eating and relaxing. Grisolles is famous for its invention and production, at industrial level, of the sorgho broom (the classic broom made of yellow straw). For more than a century and until 1998, 40 factories were producing this broom, making the town one of the main industrial centres of the department! Visit the Calbet Museum in Grisolles which is situated in a beautiful typical house of the village, for a trip back in time. Also visit the 13th century Saint-Martin Church.

Le Musée Calbet à GrisollesGrisolles

Les balais de Sorgho

Broom from Grisolles

MONTAUBAN

Montauban is the biggest town in Tarn-et-Garonne with approximately 60,000 inhabitants. It is a beautiful human-size bastide, bathed in sunlight where it is pleasant to live and holiday. It is a dynamic town, which has a cultural and historical heritage to share with visitors and its inhabitants. Montauban has been labelled "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire (Town of Art and History)". There are many events all year ; there is a lot of happening in Montauban ! This is a major tourist site which should be visited if you are in the area. The town is part of the "Grands Sites Midi Pyrénées". Walk around its streets and alleys and enjoy a warm and friendly atmosphere. The buildings are made from pink bricks. Because of the Tarn River, Montauban has a beautiful canal port, leading on to the Canal de Montech, linking the Tarn River to the Canal des Deux-Mers (this part links Bordeaux to the Canal du Midi at Toulouse!).


Montauban Tour :

  • Many buildings and monuments are of interest in Montauban (43 are listed, with many churches reflecting various cults.) Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Cathedral, the highest point in the town, was commissioned by Louis XIV at the end of the 17th century.
  • Other churches include the Church of Saint-Jacques-de-Montauban and the Church of Saint-Etienne, there is also the Temple des Carmes, the temple de la Faculté... 
  • Visit the Ingres Museum, this building was used during WW2 to hide the Joconde (the Mona Lisa). The main square of the town is the "Place Nationale", which has superb arcades.
  • Walk over the Pont Vieux (old bridge), which dates from the 14th century. When at the Tourist Office, discover the former Jesuit College.

Montauban

Montauban

For nature enthusiasts and families looking for a green location for a picnic, visit the botanic garden and its attractive arboretum. In the east quarter of the town, is a beautiful rose garden with more than 12,000 specimens. The Parc du Treil covers 13,000m2 (139,930 ft2), a great way to discover the Tarn River and its banks and see Pissote Island in the Tarn River.

For some fun activities, the Victor Brun Natural History Museum has some collections of birds and mammals. The Montauban Toys Museum will delight the children. The aumadou Museum, or Mini Museum, will please Art enthusiasts and all those who want to improve their knowledge of art. Montauban also has a selection of concerts halls. Check the itinerary on the town’s website.

Montauban et ses places magnifiques

Montauban et ses places magnifiques

The best tips and plans of Tarn Aveyron in Montauban :

  • At Port Canal, during summer, treat yourself to a boat ride ; it is a very pleasant experience to see the sunlight on the water, filtered by the trees along the canal...
  • The third biggest aquatic and leisure complex in France is located in Montauban : Ingreo. An aquatic centre with slides and 6 pools, is open all year (the water is heated in winter). It's a great place to cool down and sunbathe during the summer.
  • If you like museums, there is a shop where you can buy casts of the national museums: Archeo Deco. You can also find some figures from film characters, such as Tontons Flingueurs (aka Monsieur Gangster).
  • If it is raining that's bad luck, but don’t despair ; to keep the children busy for half a day, visit the Tohu Bohu Park. There are bouncy castles and a fabulous suspended rail, where the children can ride in a helicopter ! Fun guaranteed !
  • On the Tourist Office’s website, you can find some itineraries for walks
  • Rent a bike and go for a ride along the canal de Montech, it's lovely !
  • The Centre du Patrimoine (Heritage Centre) offers guided tours of the town centre.

 

Montauban, la cousine de Toulouse

 Montauban

Nègrepelisse

Located on the alluvial plain of the Aveyron, the bastide of Nègrepelisse is a quiet location, which is being developed thanks to green tourism. The old church of Saint- Pierre-ès-Liens was modified during the 19th century. Today the remains of Nègrepelisse Castle is an Art and History Centre, “La Cuisine”. Note the beautiful supporting castle walls and the adjacent mill (a working mill open to visitors all summer). At the site of the castle and the mill, stroll along the "isle", there is a path where beautiful varieties of flora can be found. For an etymological story, the original name of the town was Sieurac, it seems that woodcutters who made charcoal wore a “pelisse” (a cloak lined with fur) which was blackened by the soot from their work and this gave the town its nickname.

 

Le Château de Nègrepelisse

Castle of Nègrepelisse