7 villages in Tarn you need to visit
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
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.
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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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.
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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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.
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.
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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