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TARN - La Corne d'Abondance du Tarn

Carte du Tarn, territoire de la Corne d'Abondance du Tarn

Tarn Map, la Corne d'Abondance du Tarn


The most beautiful villages in France, vines, beautiful castles and little paths full of gurgling streams - this is what you will find in the Pays de Cocagne (Cockaigne) ! Here everything, or almost everything, is built on a puech (hill). The villages are situated at height so there are beautiful views and a chance to climb throughout the year. Don't forget your camera, your trainers and a shopping basket in order to go back home with all the goodies of the region.

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Puycelsi

One of the most beautiful villages in France, situated above the Vère Valley and the Grésigne Forest, Puycelsi rightly means "the hill with elevated height". The foundations of the town date back to the 10th century. Then a number of wars emptied the village, which was mostly abandoned until 1960s, this is when running water was finally connected. Life came back gradually to this lovely hillside. A third of the inhabitants are foreigners (English, Canadians, Dutch, Belgian). You can walk along the 800m of fortifications and defensive towers, visit Saint-Roch Chapel, Saint-James Chapel, Capitaines Gouverneurs Castle and Saint-Corneille Church.


Best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Puycelsi :

  • For walking enthusiast there is the "sentier du patrimoine" (heritage path), a hike of 12km which takes approximately 4 hours to walk. Be careful, it is quite a climb ! There is a beautiful waterfall to see on the way, the Audoulou waterfall
  • At the bottom of the village is the Conservatoire d'Espèces Fruitières et Vignes Anciennes (ancient fruit and vine specimens conservatory). Its aim is to preserve endangered varieties and maintain a rustic diversity with amazing flavours. The Conseil Général of the Tarn created this conservatory as part of Agenda 21 (a non-binding action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development). Guided tours and workshops take place regularly.

Puycelsi sur sa butte

Castelnau-de-Montmiral

Near Puycelsi is another of the “most beautiful villages in France”, also built on a limestone promontory, the bastide of Castelnau-de-Montmiral.

On a corner of one of its lovely alleyways is the Church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption and the large Place des Arcades, which has been pedestrianized. During summer guided tours of the village are available ; check with the Tourist Office for more information. Don’t miss the beautiful panorama of the Vère Valley from the top of the village.


Vue de Castelnau-de-Montmirail

Gaillac

In Gaillac, the vine is very important but so is pastel (a plant used for blue dye). Go to this dynamic and festive place to see the beautiful Saint-Michel Benedictine Abbey, located on the banks of the Tarn River. It is the third town of the department, its economic growth is from wine making ; tourism is developing. Monks first cultivated the arable lands of this terrace of the Tarn. All types of vine thrive here.

Also look for Saint-Michel de Gaillac Church, Saint-Jean de Tartage and Saint-Pierre Church.


The best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Gaillac :

  • Attend the “apéros-concerts” organised by winemakers in the vineyards during summer !
  • The Natural History Museum is an original and very interesting museum : it has an interesting collection of animals, insects and shells, as well as a garden. The Fine Art Museum is in a beautiful building - the Château de Foucaud (Note, closed for refurbishment until June 2018). At the Abbey Museum, you can learn everything about wine (best enjoyed without the children !!). Another surprising museum is the Musée Conservatoire inVINcible VIGNEron, with a large collection of artefacts and tools related to vines and wine production.
  • If you are around on a Sunday, go to the Club des Trains Miniatures Gaillacois. Return to your childhood and enjoy the pleasures of a miniature train.Check their website first to make sure they are open  
  • Do you like visiting beautiful castles ? Stay at the Château de Mauriac, you will be warmly welcomed whether on your own or in a small or large group !

Abbaye Saint-Michel


Vignes de Gaillac

Rabastens

Rabastens is in the Tarn, but is only about 30 minutes from Toulouse in Haute-Garonne. A lot of Toulouse inhabitants come to relax here for the weekend! What can be found ? A lot of churches, approximately 25, as the commune is very spread out. Do not miss Notre-Dame du Bourg, listed as a Unesco World Heritage site for its beautiful murals. The town is situated on the roads of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle : an alternative to the road to Puy.

There are many hiking and cycling paths from the town that go in all directions. Don’t get lost, ask for a map at the Tourist Office and follow the markings.


The best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Rabastens :

  • Looking for peace and quiet ? Go to Auzerals Lake.
  • In Saint-Suplice la pointe, near Rabastens, is Le Souterrain Médiéval du Castela (Castela medieval underground tunnel) : 142 metres (466 feet) of underground paths, below the castle which date from the Middle Ages... A surprising location !

Rabastens au bord du Tarn

Giroussens

Giroussens, in the Pays de Cocagne (Cockaigne), has always thrived thanks to the pottery production (painted terracotta) of its inhabitants since 16th century and its ceramic centre. This hilltop village offers interesting sights to see. To view the ceramics and glazed earthenware pieces of the great Giroussens period, go to the Musée du Pays Rabastinois, in Rabastens, which isn't far. The Giroussens Ceramic Centre, shows the techniques, work and influences of contemporary ceramicists.

There is a beautiful floral park, the Jardin des Martels, which covers 35,000 m2 (376,737 ft2), which has approximately 60,000 visitors per year. There are a variety of events organised too.


The best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Giroussens :

  • Hurray a steam locomotive ! A really good tourist railway which will provide a unique experience for all the family in Saint-Lieux-les-Lavaur.
  • To learn everything about the bees' life, go to the Ruchers du Tigou.

Le chemin de fer touristique


L'Agout près de Giroussens

Lavaur

Capital of the Pays de Cocagne (Cockaigne), Lavaur is proud of its natural and historic heritage. Built close to the Agout River, it is a dynamic city with lots of appeal for tourists and inhabitants alike ; in 2012 the town was listed the 11th most dynamic town in France ! A number of industries, trades and artisans were established here, including the cosmetic group Pierre Fabre which employs more than 700 workers.

A fruit and vegetable cooperative is in charge of the sale of apples and other produce grown in the region. This is the Pays de Cocagne (Cockaigne), the climate, the rich soils and the commitment of its habitants make it a productive land.

Explore the beautiful Cathedral of Saint-Alain and the amusing Jacquemart, a golden automaton which hits a bell to tell the time. Stroll round Lavaur and admire the beautiful architecture of the Hôtel de ville (Town Hall) located in a former Second Empire style courthouse. Close to the cathedral there is an English style garden, the Jardin de l'évêché, which has majestic cedar trees and a big statue. Go via Saint-François Church to one of the most beautiful remnants of the ancient fortifications of the town, the Tour des Rondes, built with pink bricks. Lavaur Hospital is also brick built and dates from the 17th century. Cross the Pont Saint Roch over the Agout River to see the Halle aux grains (dating from the end of 14th century) and the Lavaur viaduct.


The best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Lavaur :

  • Le Plô has a beautiful garden to walk round with an esplanade. Another green area is the Square du Général Bressolle.
  • For art enthusiasts, visit Vaurais Municipal museum, and during the summer, the Chapel of the Museum has temporary exhibitions.
  • Cultural and artistic life is rich in Lavaur, thanks to various associations.
  • For hiking enthusiasts, check with the Tourist Office to find the Roman Way, and tour round the pastel area to see this plant used for making dye.
  • A big market takes place on Saturdays in Lavaur.
  • Are you a wine lover ? Go to the Domaine d'En Ségur to visit the wineries, and learn everything about vines and... tasting ! During summer you can even have your meal on site.

L'intérieur de la Cathédrale Saint-Alain

Graulhet

Graulhet, and its lovely small alleyways, is either a stopover or a very good place for your holiday ! Crossed by the peaceful Dadou river, the town is near major roads. In Graulhet, traces of human civilisations dating from the Gallo-Roman period have been found. This is because of the geographical and geological location of the town. It is in a valley, on a rocky plateau surrounded by wetlands. Economically, Graulhet was recognized for the expertise of its tanners. The leather of the region was famous for its colour, strength and price. Unfortunately, the town was affected by a big social crisis at the beginning of the 20th century, followed by the Great Depression of 1929 which weakened this once booming industry. Today, the town relies on its tourist attractions and the economy is more geared towards trade, craft and sustainable development. In Graulhet, you can see the Pont vieux (old bridge) listed as a Historic Monument. There is a lovely medieval quarter with narrow alleyways and half-timbered houses. Make sure you see the Hostellerie du Lyon d'Or.


The best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Graulhet :

  • Visit the Maison des Métiers du Cuir (Leatherworking House), to learn more about the history of the town's leather tanners and the manufacture of leather (the tannery).
  • For beer enthusiasts, visit the Brasserie des vignes for a tour which includes tasting the products, run by a former passionate chemistry teacher !
  • There are two historic paths to be found : the sentier urbain des patrimoines (urban heritage path) and the Parcours des Grévistes (the strikers trail).
  • Have a stroll in the Jardin de la rivière, a lovely island of greenery.

Hostellerie du Lyon d'Or, bâtisse médiévale

Lautrec

Lautrec is located in Pays d'Agout, another 'one of the most beautiful villages in France'.

Between Albi and Castres, it is a medieval village built on a hill, facing the plain of Castres, the Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) and the Pyrenees Mountains. Obviously, you know this name very well... Lautrec, which comes from the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, an extravagant and prolific artist ! Lautrec is the town of his ancestors.

Explore Saint-Rémy Collegiate Church which has beautiful furniture. Some pieces are listed as historic heritage. In the main square of the town there is a stone covered market which houses the market. At the entrance to the town the Porte de la Caussade, dating from the 13th century, is what remains of the Middle Ages fortifications. Put your trainers on and tackle the narrow medieval alleyways, made from beautiful stone and bordered by half-timbered houses. At the top of the town you will find your reward for climbing - a breathtaking view at the Calvaire de la Salette (328 metres-1,076 feet high !) and its orientation table. Lautrec is certainly part of the Pays de Cocagne with its pungent and savoury pink garlic that you can buy in the market !


The best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Lautrec :

  • The Atelier du Sabotier, the Esclopier, will tell you everything you need to know about the making of wooden clogs, which is an ancient skill. Information is presented in an educational and interesting way.
  • At the top of the Calvaire de la Salette, is a lovely windmill, suspended on the side of the hill. Refurbished in 1992, it can be visited during the summer.
  • If you are looking for beautiful accommodation, check out Château de Brametourte. The chateau also organises events such as tours, cycling tours etc.
  • If you like nature but you are not sure about your stamina, you can rent an electric bike to enjoy beautiful rides around Lautrec, without any effort ! Go to Velotrek.
  • Visit the Lautrec Archaeological Museum, on the first floor of the town hall.

Lautrec, belle cité médiévale


Le moulin se mérite, tout en haut du calvaire de la Salette !

Puylaurens

As you approach Montagne Noire (Black Mountain) you will come to Puylaurens and, as its name indicates, it is built on a "puy", a volcanic plug.

The village was built in 1258 around the castle, the Cap de Castel. Today it is a quality hotel and restaurant. Have a stroll though the town and its surrounding following the discovery trail : "Châteaux et des églises du Puylaurentais".


Best tips and plans of Guide Tarn Aveyron in Puylaurens :

  • Adventure seekers can enjoy half a day in Cri de Tarzan, a fun park with tree climbing.
  • Do you want to ride quads, motorbikes and other mechanical vehicles ? Go to the Circuit de l'Aubépine, which also offers corporate events (seminars, incentives).
  • Not far from Puylaurens, is Magrin, which has an interesting Pastel Museum.
  • In Algans, nearby, you will find the Musée de l'outil agricole (Agricultural Tool Museum) «Nostra Tèrra Occitana».
  • The market takes place every Wednesday in Puylaurens.
Le Château de Puylaurens