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7 villages in Tarn you need to visit

PUBLISHED: 17:21 25 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 05 October 2017

Lautrec  is a plus beau village in Tarn © Musat

Lautrec is a plus beau village in Tarn © Musat

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Built hundreds of years ago, the villages in Tarn have real fairy-tale charm. Here are 7 that need to be seen to be believed

Cordes sur Ciel is believed to be the first bastide village ever built © Dominique VIETCordes sur Ciel is believed to be the first bastide village ever built © Dominique VIET

Cordes-sur-Ciel

Perched on the craggy Puech de Mordagne, Cordes-sur-Ciel is perhaps the prettiest (and best known village in Tarn). Believed to be the first bastide village ever built, (it was given its charter in 1222 by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse), it is still shrouded in superstition and myth, giving the village a fairy-tale feel. Hilly cobbled streets are lined with cute cottages, art galleries and craft shops. A steep climb leads you to the central Place de la Halle where you can find excellent restaurants, quaint hotels and a wonderful wine shop.

The ramparts in Puycelci © D. VijorovicThe ramparts in Puycelci © D. Vijorovic

Puycelsi

Often referred to as ‘fortress of the wood’, Puycelsi is perfect for exploring the enchanted forests of Tarn. Spot woodland wildlife, including deer and wild boar on Le Sentier du Patrimoine walking route or buy in-season fruit from some of the 800 species of tree at the Orchard Conservatoire. The 800m of ramparts that surround the village also provides a unique walkway that offers lush green views of the Vère valley below.

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Place des Arcades at Castelnau de Montmiral © L. FrezoulsPlace des Arcades at Castelnau de Montmiral © L. Frezouls

Castelnau-de-Montmiral

The heart of Castelnau-de-Montmiral’s village life is at Place des Arcades where 16th-century buildings housing clothes boutiques, craft shops, hotels and restaurants border the square. The Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, built in 1270, boasts a beautiful star-encrusted ceiling, 16th-century frescoes and gold-gilded statues.

The village church in Lautrec © ThinkstockThe village church in Lautrec © Thinkstock

Lautrec

South of Albi and east of Toulouse, the small, quiet village of Lautrec has some historical points of interest. Visit the 17th-century windmill where you can see how flour was prepared and enjoy views of the Agout Valley and surrounding hillside. The village is well known for pink garlic and an annual festival is held every August to celebrate the local l’ail rose.

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Penne

The main point of interest in Penne is a wonderful medieval castle. Perched atop a rocky outcrop, it’s well worth climbing up the winding village lanes for the spectacular views of the Gresigne forest and the River Aveyron. Educational tours tell you about the history of the fortress, and during July and August, there is archery, medieval music and street art acts.

The River Tarn flowing through Lisle-sur-Tarn © ThinkstockThe River Tarn flowing through Lisle-sur-Tarn © Thinkstock

Lisle-sur-Tarn

Created by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, in the 13th century, Lisle-sur-Tarn is another of the department’s bastide villages. Designed in a grid pattern, the bastide has been laid out in four sections, each with its own fortified gate to enter. Its large central square is bordered by an arcade made with the local pink brick, with a number of bars and restaurants to enjoy.

Rabastens

This brick-built village has a lively market and has lots of interesting historical buildings, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Notre-Dame-du-Bourg church. Various hiking trails leave from the village, taking you through the surrounding countryside and past chapels, vineyards and orchards in the Tarn.

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