PUBLISHED: 09:49 01 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:26 08 November 2016
An insider's guide to Tarn-et-Garonne in Occitanie, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, the major festivals and events, and buying property in Tarn-et-Garonne
Once a prosperous area known for its woollen and silk industry, Tarn-et-Garonne is one of the smallest and youngest departments in France and is based in the Occitanie region (formerly Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées).
It was created in 1808 by decree from Napoleon I, with land being taken from the surrounding departments of Lot, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, Gers and Aveyron. It may be small, but it boasts an impressive variety of landscapes, from fertile plains to steep gorges, and takes its name from the two great rivers – the Tarn and the Garonne – that flow through it.
As it boasts a pleasant climate, an unspoilt nature, a rich cultural heritage and interesting history, its hardly surprising holidaymakers and expats looking for a second home head to Tarn-et-Garonne.
By plane: There are flights from the UK to Toulouse and Rodez
By train: Eurostar to Paris and jump aboard the TGV to Montauban
By road: Montauban is 914km from Calais
Places to visit in Tarn-et-Garonne
The capital of Tarn-et-Garonne is Montauban, one of the oldest bastides in southern France with impressive religious buildings including the Saint-Jacques church and the Cathédrale Notre Dame de l’Assomption. Standing on the right bank of the River Tarn and just 31km from Toulouse, it was originally called Mont Alba (Mount Willow in Occitan) and willow trees are still a common sight here. Thousands flock to the town centre for the week-long festival of Les Quatre-Cent Coups in early September with concerts, balls and street parties commemorating the failed attempt Louis XIII made to try to besiege the town.
The pretty town of Moissac sits at the confluence of the Garonne and Tarn rivers, and is well-known for its artistic heritage preserved in the St. Pierre Abbey of Moissac. With a turbulent history, visitors can wander round the parts of the complex that remain today and soak in the beautiful cloisters surrounding the church’s pretty courtyard and Romanesque art on display.
Tarn-et-Garonne is home to three Plus Beaux Villages: Auvillar, Lauzerte and Bruniquel. The latter became famous for, and wealthy from, the production of saffron in the 14th century, which continues today. The vibrant yellow spice is the star of the show at local markets, alongside saffron-based products including jams, syrups and cakes. It is clear to see why Bruniquel has been listed as one of the prettiest villages in France with cobbled walkways, honey coloured stone cottages and two stunning castles sitting higher than the homes that surround it.
Things to do in Tarn-et-Garonne
The department has plenty of green spaces; it boasts the Causses du Quercy regional national park with limestone cliffs, small areas of lush green woodland and rivers running throughout the landscape. The department’s hills lead up to the Pyrénées mountains where the snow-covered peaks can be spotted in the distance when the skies are clear.
The Gorges de l’Aveyron, known as the ‘lungs of Tarn-et-Garonne’, is an ideal place for nature lovers to visit with the opportunity to go canoeing, walking and rock climbing in the truly breathtaking scenery. Take a trip to Grotte du Bosc in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, a cave resting in the heart of the Gorges de l’Aveyron, where a guided tour will introduce you to a long galley full of colourful concretions.
Tarn-et-Garonne produces high-quality fruit, foie gras, duck, garlic and truffles with plenty of these local treats being sold in numerous markets throughout the department. There are six wine appellations, with the Chasseles grape from Moissac being the first fruit to obtain the AOC label in 1971.
Buying property in Tarn-et-Garonne
For those that seek a more relaxed pace of life, and adore idyll medieval villages exuding charm, Tarn-et-Garonne is the perfect choice for a second home. There’s a wide range of property styles and prices; from stone Terrefort houses, Bas-Quercy houses where residents live primarily in the building’s upstairs and charming rustic cottages with visible stone brickwork and wooden beams. A lot of properties will have been built using local resources, taking advantage of the department’s assets.
The average property price in this department is around €141,000, a fair amount less than the average property price in France (€157,600). It is one of the more expensive departments in the region, however, property prices do vary greatly throughout the department.
The most expensive area is the department’s capital of Montauban with an average property price of €169,000 while the charming riverside town of Castelsarrasin has an average property price of €130,000.
You can find properties in Tarn-et-Garonne for sale on the France Property Shop website.