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TARN - The Granite Mountains

Carte du Tarn, les Montagnes de Granite

Tarn Map, The Granite Mountains


A mixture of mysterious rocks, a breathtaking natural park, an abundance of hiking paths - this is the experience waiting for you in the land of granite mountains. The region also has an interesting industrial past, many museums and local specialities such as salting, good meat and wine... What more can you ask ? Have a great holiday in the Granite Mountains !

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Sorèze

Sorèze is an interesting town. It has a lot to offer travellers : a geographical location with beautiful scenery, places of cultural interest and plenty for the tourist to do.

The town is located at the crossroads of the Tarn, Aude and Haute Garonne. It is situated in the foothills of the Massif Central. Sorèze is close to the plain of Lauragais, and very close to Montagne Noire. In Sorèze itself visit the beautiful Abbaye-Ecole. This is a magical place full of charm. It is a historic monument, built in 1754, which housed a royal military school under the auspices of Louis XVI. Wander through the rooms of this living museum, which takes you back to the lifestyle of the residents at that time. Visit the beautiful Tapestry Museum, the Musée Dom Robert, (1,500 m2 - 16,145 ft2) to learn everything about the making of tapestries by the Aubusson weavers. During the 20th century, Dom Robert was a monk upholsterer who created fascinating work.


The narrow, paved streets, dotted with stalls manned by local artisans, complement Saint-Martin church which has a beautiful facade. From Sorèze, visit the Regional Natural Park of Haut-Languedoc. Close to the town, you can see the site of St Jammes of Arfons, which has a majestic beech tree and the remains of a small chapel. Theoppidum de Berniquaut has been occupied since prehistoric times. Not far from the town, the Plateau du Causse hosts the Jean Antoine Clos underground complex ; an archaeological site with many excavated galleries in the limestone plateau. Go to the view point at Roc de la Fendeille, to see dictatic panels, an orientation table and a pleasant picnic area.


Ruelles de Saurèze

Dourgne

This is a small town at the foot of the Montagne Noire. Here, travellers come for peace and quiet, far from the turmoil of most tourist trails. Put on your hiking shoes and explore this natural heritage at your own pace. There are hidden dovecots in the countryside, little crosses at the roadside, fountains and old wash houses... Also beautiful panoramas !

In Dourgne, for those looking for spiritual healing, go to Saint-Benoît d'En Calcat Abbey. The building cannot be entered but people come here to unwind. A community of 60 monks live there all year, for religious meditation. There is another abbey in the commune : the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte Scholastique, home to Benedictine sisters. They offer workshops, tours, a shop and also accommodation for those looking for a spiritual retreat or a peaceful moment from the daily round.


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

  • Climb La Capelette ! A beautiful one way hike of 11km (9.3 miles), to climb above Dourgne, passing abbeys on the way and with a beautiful panorama at the end...
  • Not far from Dourgne in Combounet le Sor, visit the lovely Château des Plantes, to learn all you need to know about the pastel plant, from its harvest to the creation of a beautiful dye.

Abbaye Sainte Scholastique

Labruguière

Seven kilometres south of Castres, the town of Labruguière is situated on the banks of the Thoré river. It was built in 10th century. It is a dynamic town full of flowers ! Located in Pays d'Autan, (which has the same name as the wind - the Autan wind is a high wind coming in from the sea which brings pleasant warmth during the summer) this area has a diversity of landscapes ; the town is on one side with the Montagne Noire, on the other side is the Causse de Caucalières-Labruguière and in front there is the Castrais Plain. In terms of heritage, the round shaped medieval town centre of Labruguière houses a covered market dating from the 13th century, the church of Saint-Thyrs, the remains of the fortified gates at the entrance to the town (only three remain) and Château Cardaillac which dates from the 17th century. Photography enthusiasts can visit the Arthur Batut Photographic Centre. He was the inventor of the aerial photograph, so popular nowadays with the development of aerial photography using drones ! It is interesting to learn how this inhabitant of Labruguière, imagined and then took photographs from a kite, in 1888!!


The best tips and plans of Guide du Tarn Aveyron in Labruguière

  • Visit the Atelier du Mouscaillou : leather work which is eco-friendly ! Introductory workshops are available on demand...
  • There are many outdoor activities to do in the surrounding area: donkey rides, horse trekking, mountain bike rental and rides, canyoning, rock climbing, air tours with the local aeroclub, skydiving. You will not be bored in Labruguière !

Le Thoré près des falaises calcaires

Mazamet

Mazamet hides a surprising expertise which dates from the last century. Until 1980, a unique industrial process made the reputation of the town : fellmongering (removing wool from a sheepskin). The "wool city" developed a technique to separate the wool and the leather from the skins of the sheep, without damaging the leather. About fifty factories were dedicated to this industry and were trading worldwide. This process used the white waters of the Arnette river. Then came the "tanning", a second industry well established in Mazamet, as well as in other surrounding towns, dealing with the making of the skins into useful objects or for clothing. Visit The Fellmongering Museum, to learn everything you need to know about the industrial past of Mazamet and this unique technique.

Mazamet is a really good place for a family holiday ; there are plenty of things to do and see ! Visit the Maison des Mémoires de Mazamet with its small Cathar Museum. Explore one, or all the churches of the town (there are 7), as well as the three Protestant Temples.

Close to the town is the medieval city of Hautpoul with the ruins of the castle still remaining. The first inhabitants and founders of Mazamet came from Hautpoul, escaping the crusade of the Albigeois and the killing of the inhabitants by the troops of Simon de Montfort.


The best tips and plans of Guide du Tarn Aveyron in Mazamet

  • Children and toy lovers will be delighted by the Maison du Bois et du Jouet (The Wood and Toy House) and its collection of more than 1,200 items, displays and workshops.
  • A winter market takes place every Sunday in the covered market.
  • There are not one but two Leisure Activity Centres in Mazamet ! Bonnecombe Leisure Activity Centre has a playground, BBQ area and sports fields which are free. Montagnès Leisure Activity Centre has a pedestrian area, beach and water games (swimming possible) and is also free ! There are other lakes in the surrounding area : Lac des Saints Peyres (10km of water for fishermen and hikers), Barrage du Pas des Bêtes which has an arboretum.
  • Children will enjoy the Sagnes de Puech Balmes walk, to learn more about the wetlands and discover the Dragon des Sagnes...
  • There are many marked hiking trails in and around the town. The hiking paths can be downloaded from the town's website.
  • At 8 km (5 miles) heading towards Le Vintrou, have a stroll in the superb Gorges du Banquet.
  • For a mystical atmosphere visit he biggest menhir (a tall upright stone erected in prehistoric times) of the Tarn - the Menhir des Prats in Mazamet, it is 4 metres (13 feet) high.
Mazamet, dans son écrin de verdure

La base de loisirs à côté de Mazamet

    Labastide-Rouairoux

    Labastide-Rouairoux is located in the Haute Vallée du Thoré, in the heart of the Natural Regional Park of the Haut Languedoc. Inhabited since the dawn of time, visit the Dolmen de la Gante and the Menhir of “Prat de la Bolo”.

    In the village, visit the Musée du département du textile (Textile Museum) to learn everything about the speciality of the region. If in Mazamet expertise was geared to leather, in Labastide, textiles are at the centre stage. The town had up to 30 factories, as well as being the place to start using people who worked from home using modern technology ; teleworkers. Today, these activities are only seen in the museum, but the town is developing tourism and sustainable energy.

    Many hiking trails are available in the region.


    Castres

    Jean-Jaurès was born here. This Massif Central town, crossed by the Agout River from one side to the other, has a dry, warm Mediterranean climate, thanks to its geographical position and the strong presence of the Autan wind. Castres is populated by a little more than 40,000 people and is a lively city, which was, at the beginning of the 20th century, the first town of Tarn thanks to its industry. Today, enjoy a pleasant stroll to see the town's many appealing sites. Nestled along the river, the old artisans' houses are built at the foot of the Agout River. Built in the Middle-Ages, each had a cave for leather working and for other materials with a wash house directly onto the river. These colourful houses have their feet in the water, like a "small Venice", their halftimbered balconies are beautiful. Enjoy a lovely view from the Pont Vieux.

    Stroll along the Place Jean-Jaurès. It is fully pedestrianised and houses the market and open air events all year. Visit Francisco Goya Museum, to discover masterpieces by Goya and other Spanish artists. The National Centre is a museum concentrating on the life of Jean Jaurès, a native of Castres. It is a museum full of information about the political thinking of the time. The ingenious museography makes it very interesting for all ages. Pass in front of the 17th century Saint-Benoit Cathedral and not far from there are the Jardins de l'évêché, designed by Le Nôtres, architect of the gardens at Versailles. The 17th century episcopal Palace houses the Town Hall. There is also the Tour Saint-Benoit and many mansions to see.

    There are other pleasant green spaces in Castres : the Jardin du Mail, the Jardin Frascaty, the Parc Briguiboul, the Parc de Gourjade... and if you are looking for even more green areas and nature, go directly to the site of Sidobre, an unusual and mystical granite corry... with huge rocks, cascades...


    The best tips and plans of Guide du Tarn Aveyron in Castres

    • Go to Le Coche d'eau where you will find the Miredame which is a boat linking the town centre to the lovely Parc de Gourjade.
    • The “Pass Tourism en Ville”, has lots of visits and discounts on offer, a good tip !
    • For a fun and sporty day, near the Parc de Gourjade, try the Piscine de l'Archipel.
    • Laser quest, bowling, karting, paintball, escape games are all available as well as lots of other activities to do in Castres.

    Castres, ville de tanneries


    Patrie de Jean Jaurès

    Burlats

    Close to Castres, Burlats is located in the heart of a natural landscape and close to many interesting places : the granite site of Sidobre, Parc Naturel Régional du Haut Languedoc, as well as Agout Valley.

    What is there to do in Burlats ? There are hiking trails, by horse or by bike, good meals in the local restaurants and a variety of tours. Have a stroll and discover the Pavillon d’Adélaïde, a 12th century priory with four surprisingly huge bay windows, the Maison d'Adam, Saint-Pierre Collegiate Church and the Porte de la Bistoure which is all that remains of the ancient fortifications of the village.


    The best tips and plans of Guide du Tarn Aveyron in Burlats

    • Close to Burlats, look for the hiking path “Chao de la Rouquette”. A Chaos is a river full of rocks, which stack up in a "chaotic" way. It is an unusual landscape... Carry on walking and you will come to Saint-Dominique's cave. Be careful as it is a bit steep for children and you will need to wear comfortable shoes !
    • The Lac du Merle is a haven of peace for a quiet walk. There are all sorts of flora and fauna to be seen.
    • At the Hameau des Sept-Faux, you can see the Rocher Tremblant (the wobbly rock). This is a 900 tons granite block... which moves sometimes... So what is wobbly - the rock or you ? Do you think it will fall from its promontory ?
    • A good, unique trip for children is a knitting workshop which uses natural materials. There is a one hour guided tour where you can learn everything about this original workshop : the Missègle Boutique. There are quality products on site.

    Prieuré et Pavillon d'Adelaïde

    Brassac

    Brassac is located on the banks of the Agout River. There is a lovely two-arched medieval bridge, a castle on the righthand riverbank, which houses the Town Hall and another castle on the lefthand riverbank. There is an historic trail through the village, so you can learn everything you need to know about the place.

    Not far from here, there is the Protestantism Museum of Ferrières which reveals the great mystery - why there are two castles in Brassac ! There are many mountain bike trails in the commune !


    Pont vieux de Brassac

    Nages

    Nages is a lovely, small tourist village. There is a beautiful castle with two towers which exhibits a collection of medieval objects. It is being refurbished in order to reveal its secrets... There is a lake in Nages and it is the centre for tourist attractions. The lac du Laouzas is a reservoir which has a large choice of nautical activities (windsurfing, sailing, pedal boating, canoeing...) and swimming/relaxing.

    In Rieumontagné, close to the lake, visit the Country and folk Museum of the Haut-Languedoc. This is a beautiful reconstruction to illustrate life on a farm in Monts de Lacaune. It is open in summer and can be accessed during the rest of the year by pre-booking. Do not miss seeing the beautiful Maison de Payrac which has a broom roof ; it has a shop with local products and a refuge for hikers during the summer. There are a number of events which take place during the summer (meals, bread baking, shows).

    Lac du Laouzas à Nages

    Lacaune les bains

    In the heart of Monts de Lacaune, surrounded by 8 mountains of a reasonable altitude (the region is considered a mountainous area), is the thermal resort of Lacaune and the Bel-Air warm spring. There is a casino for evening entertainment. The region is well known for its great tasting charcuterie, and of course, natural mineral water, Mont Roucous.

    The altitude and the climate of the region are beneficial to the production of famous salted products, which can be found in the shops and restaurants of the town. In Lacaune you will find a 19th century wool spinner (Ramond Filature), "spin the wool, spin the wool"... There is the Vieux Lacaune Museum, close to the Fontaine des Pisseurs (16th century), which is a listed historic monument. The Calmels Tower and its lovely wooden frame and the remarkable 4.5 metres high menhir or "Pierre Plantée", probably erected by prehistoric man to encourage the telluric properties of the town !

    The Wellness Centre, the Lacaune warm springs area, provides a relaxing experience with jacuzzis, warm baths, a steam room, as well as balneotherapy, body and beauty treatments.

    Hiking and fishing are available in this natural conservation area. Visit the Pic du Montalet for a splendid view! The path "sur les traces de l'enfant sauvage" is a walk through a cedar forest, which has a noticeable incline (leave the pushchair behind, but children can walk around safely).


    Pic de Montalet, quelle belle vue !

    Montredon-Labessonié

    Montagne Sainte, dotted with streams, (where gold would have been found during Gallic times), has a castle with four towers, a moat, the church of Saint-Jean Baptiste, the chapel of Notre-Dame de Ruffis and the Planetarium, the town's observatory, where you can see the stars. The whole family can participate in themed evenings, shows and events. For those who do not have their head in the stars, you may prefer to see 1,200 animals in the Zoo des Trois Vallées.

    Hikes in the Regional Natural Park of the Haut-Languedoc are not far from here and the Tourist Office can advise on walks of all levels. Here are some hiking trails.


    The best tips and plans of Guide du Tarn Aveyron in Montredon-Labessonié

    • Are you a food lover ? If you are, you are in the best place to sample the food as the local farmers sell their products directly to the public. There are approximately fifteen producers who offer many, savoury regional specialities.
    • The municipal swimming pool is open during summer and has a snack bar.
    Notre-Dame de Ruffis

    Saint-Pierre-de-Trivisy

    Located in a lush setting, the commune of Saint-Pierre-de-Trivisy is definitely a green resort ! In the Hautes Terres d'Oc, there are many things to do. Let’s start with cultural activities : Lacaze Castle offers art exhibitions, medieval attractions, and evening shows for a very reasonable price (€2 entrance fee). Moulin de Record is a water mill with one working mill, which has ground wheat for six centuries. There are many walks and hiking paths. There is also a guide for local hikes, available at the Tourist Office, so you won't miss any exceptional natural sites.


    The best tips and plans of Guide du Tarn Aveyron in Saint-Pierre de Trivisy

    • Get the “Passeport Patrimoine” (Heritage Passport), to get special rates for visits in the region, which includes 14 museums.
    • Broussonnie Lake is a fish farm geared to tourism ; learn the art of fishing !
    • "Aquamonts" Leisure Activity Centre, has a Wellness centre : jacuzzis, whirlpool baths, saunas... there is also a fitness room and a beauty centre.
    • Again in Aquamonts, a fun water park is suitable for all the family for a relaxing day. Giant slides, restaurants, paddling pools... and nearby, the sports leisure centre "La Forêt" has picnic areas, hiking paths, minigolf, sports fields and playgrounds for children.
    • Fancy some action ? There is also treeclimbing and paint-balling in the forest (Aventure Parc), in the same area. So many things to do !
    • Do you fancy lunch or dinner in an unusual place ? Go to the Bibliotèca, a library restaurant !

    Etang de Saint Pierre de Trevisy

    Teillet

    At the entrance to Ségala, is Teillet. The land is cultivated as well as having wooded valleys. On one side there is the Dadou River, with meanders and wetland forest, and on the other side there is Lézert stream. The commune takes its name from the “Tilleul” tree (linden).
    Explore Saint-Amans Church and especially, the enigmatic and spectacular Grandval Castle on Razille Lake. Built in the 15th century, it was the residence of many famous characters, until a double tragedy occured. In 1944 it was completely burnt by German troops, then in 1956 it was partially flooded by a dam ! Today there only remain the ruins, which are very aesthetic when the dam is full : they majestically peek above the water. The best view is from Mont Roc belvedere.

    Les ruines énigmatiques du Château de Grandval

    Ambialet

    This former Gallic fortress was built on a peninsula in a meander of the Tarn River. You need comfortable shoes to visit the wonders of Ambialet. Tackle the “puech” (hill) to see the priory of Notre-Dame de l'Oder. The 13th century Saint-Gilles Church, of Roman origin, was burnt and has been refurbished. The ruins of Ambialet Castle are visible close to the priory.

    Magnifique panorama sur Ambialet