|Location||Direction||Minutes to Drive|
|Beautiful medieval ‘bastide’ with shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and a tourist office. Walk to the top of the hill past the medieval operational windmill to scenic views. Look out for the pottery map showing Brametourte at the top of the hill. Remember that Lautrec is most famous for its ‘ail rose’ or ‘pink garlic’ – eat lots as it is wonderful for the health!|
|Lautrec Tennis Courts||N||3|
|Next to the Lautrec Polyvalent on the road going towards Castres. Book the court at the Tourist Office – it is practically always available.|
|Lautrec Bike Hire||N||3|
|Two bikes, and a child’s, are available for hire from the Tourist Office. If you require professional bikes, particularly for a group – contact Anthony www.velotrek.fr or 0631907805 or Philippe t el : 0033 (0)681 963 936 www.bikerentalfrance.com . There are excellent bike paths around the Chateau and to Albi and it is a popular area for the Tour de France route.|
|Lautrec outdoor swimming pool / Aquaval||N||2|
|Outdoor pools with slides and refreshments – perfect for cooling off and for young families.|
|Wednesday morning provides a slice of genuine French life at the local regional farmer’s market and a chance to stock up on the week’s veggies and fine cheeses. It also has artisan stores with excellent traditional souvenirs and gifts to take home. I love to sit in the market square cafe and watch the local’s social interactions – often very entertaining!|
|Lac de la Bancalie, Realmont||N||30|
|This reservoir is a perfect spot to swim long distances amongst the fish or just to take a picnic by the cool water surrounded by trees and hills. There is a cafe open during the summer months – just go over the aqueduct bridge and park in the second car park on the left. There are also pedaloes and canoes for hire in the summer.|
|Cordes sur Ciel||N||45|
|Stunning medieval ‘bastide’ with medieval carvings in the stonework of the ancient houses, cobbled streets and a feeling of being in the sky or ‘ciel’.|
|Stunning UNESCO listed world heritage site – a medieval town on the River Tarn. Cathedral built by the Pope following the destruction of the ‘heretic’ Cathars by the Catholics – the tallest brick building in Europe. The Toulouse Lautrec museum is here along with restaurants in the cloisters, boat trips or walks along the river and unique French boutiques. It is also possible to cycle here along the old railway line cycle path. http://www.albi-tourisme.fr/fr/default.asp|
|Toulouse Lautrec’s Birthplace Chateau du Bosc||N||45|
|Fascinating to see the house that Toulouse Lautrec, the famous artist, grew up in before seeing his exhibition in Albi Museum. Chateau de Brametourte was the home of his ancestors during the medieval period and his family was the result of the aristocratic merger of the families from Toulouse and from Lautrec. http://www.tourisme-aveyron.com/diffusio/fr/visiter/patrimoine/camjac/chateau-du-bosc-toulouse-lautrec|
|Lisle sur Tarn||NW||30|
|Just a pretty, peaceful little village with good restaurants on the River Tarn, to wander around and enjoy.|
|This town, also on the River Tarn, is the centre of our local wine growing area – great for wine tasting and buying by the case load with a range of prices whatever your budget!|
|This village is built into the side of a cliff with caves underneath – everyone who goes here is in raptures!|
|Learn how this village has developed and exported this delicious cheese – with the help of a few sheep and maturing in caves with bread mould. You can buy exceptional mature Roquefort cheeses here that you cannot buy in the shops.|
|Unbelievable and ‘tres celebre’ bridge that feels like it hangs within the heavens. It is the tallest bridge in the world and terrible for the vertigo!|
|Gorges of the Tarn||NE||120|
|Striking views, interesting villages and chateau and possible to kayak along.|
|Some bizarre volcanic rocks piled up around a national park in the mountains to explore and enjoy! Take refreshments as it is isolated.|
|Our nearest pretty little fishing village with fish restaurants along an endless line of sandy beach. If you prefer one over night stay to break the journey we can recommend the clean and simple Le Neptune on the sea front – Boulevard de la Douane, 11560 St Pierre La Mer 0468751300. Ensuite rooms at c€95 per double. There is also an interesting old abbey on the way – past Carcassonne which is well worth a visit. http://www.narbonne-tourisme.com/|
|Kayaking and Canoes - Burlats||SEE||30|
|Great fun to do in a group and the course can be set at any level – can be reserved via 05 63 35 70 77|
|Old local town – formally the heart of the leather industry. Restaurants and bars and the Goya Museum. The Irish Bar on a Thursday night usually has a band and is very lively. Markets take place every morning in the central square - Place Jean Jaures. It is also possible to cycle here on one of our four bicycles along the old railway line cycle path.|
|Golfing at La Barouge, Mazamet||SE||40|
|A beautiful green and a real pleasure to play here. http://www.sportimum.net/barouge/presentation-72.html|
|Via the leather town of Mazamet, escape to the cool of a medieval mountain village situated in the Montagnes Noir where Cathars were persecuted. Be ready for a hike - it’s a car free zone! Near there, further up the mountain, is a lake where you can swim and relax. http://www.tppo.fr/sites/hautpoul-village-medieval/39/|
|Centre of Cathar power in the medieval époque – stunning fairy tale castle and cathedral [although be prepared for lots of tourists after the tranquillity of the countryside]. 14 th July, Bastille Day – it hosts the biggest firework display in the south of France|
|Canal de Midi||S-SE||60 - 90|
|The canal that allowed the Med to be connected to the Atlantic was a stunning piece of medieval engineering. Join it at various points for a walk or a cycle ride and picnic.|
|Castles of the Cathars||SE||120|
|Stunning views from a line of castle ruins along a vast isolated valley – south of Carcassonne – their last haven of escape. 800 years later - you can still sense the sorrow of this destroyed civilisation - tortured, starved and murdered in the name of Christianity.|
|Spanish and French culture merge in this colourful historic city.|
|A market town with a large local market on Saturday mornings. There is also a lake near by where you can take your picnic and swim.|
|This is one of the strangest places I have ever been to. Heavy with myths, legends and conspiracies – it is supposed to have been the retreat of Mary Magdalene – believed by the locals to have been the true wife of Jesus. Why is there an inscription above the church door saying ‘Evil lies here’ and a carving of the devil in the entrance?|
|If you have had enough of tranquillity then try the international university ‘rose’ city and the ancient capital of Occitanie. Museums, restaurants, bars, clubs, shops and the airbus tour or aerospace exhibition will keep you busy enough for three days!|
|Le Cri de Tarzan||SW||40|
|Between Vielmur sur Agout and Puylaurens this is an adventure playground for children of all ages – particularly popular amongst family groups. Entry is between 10-20 euros depending on the age group.|
|All summer long the area will have village ‘vide greniers’ [literally ‘empty the attic’] and brocantes to find all sorts of interesting French oddments for a few euro. Negotiation is expected. Also virtually every weekend there are festivals so ask us about what is on when you come and visit or look out for the posters on the roads.|
Here is an example of some of the local outings you may wish to experience.
A trip to Carcassonne in the Languedoc – the fairy tale hill topped medieval, walled castle and village. You will amble around the shops for souvenirs and marvel at the stunning ancient architecture. You will learn that the beauty of this place belies the sad history of its origins. Here the Cathars established a pure and simple religion only to be slaughtered by the Knights of the Templar – during the 13th century. You may have read ‘Labyrinth’ by Kate Mosse which helps bring Carcassonne’s turbulent history to life.
You will visit the medieval Canal de Midi – a piece of engineering brilliance built in the medieval period to connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, for trade purposes. Today, barges and yachts glide gently along the tranquil waters, shaded by Cyprus and olive trees and surrounded by the beauty of the French countryside.
A trip to a stunning chateau vineyard in the local wine growing region – Gaillac. There you will learn about the growing of grapes, the ‘vendage’ or ‘grape picking’harvest, and the wine. You will be able to sample their finest wines with an expert who will describe what you should look for when tasting wines.
Every week the local farmers come to sell their vegetables, herbs, plants, bread, meat and livestock at the regional Farmers Market. The place bustles with activity as the farmer’s wives examine produce and farmers, with berets, catch up on local gossip, playing cards and drinking pastis in the cafes. Artisans sell their wares such as olive wood carvings, weaved baskets and hand made garments.
Albi is a medieval town, frozen in time, resting sedately on the banks of the River Tarn. Next to Albi’s cathedral, the tallest brick building in the world, the Bishops Palace has been converted to a free museum dedicated a famous local artists – ‘Toulouse Lautrec’. Time can be spent at the museum, taking a boat down the river, exploring and relaxing at a ‘Salon de The’ in the town’s ‘Place’.
Castres has been the centre of leather production for France during the last thousand years – with the medieval tanneries still in existence along the edges of the town’s river. Castres is a secret gem, off the tourist track, and represents all that is truly friendly and genuine in the life style that encapsulates Southern France.
No holiday would be complete without a visit to our local village ‘bastide’ – Lautrec. The village is certified as one of France’s ‘prettiest villages’ and is world famous for its production of pink garlic [’oeil rose’]. A short walk takes you to the top of the hill in the centre of the village, providing striking 360 degree views.
Depending on the week of your holiday, there will be local cultural fetes and events taking place, such as the Bread Festival, Garlic Festival, Music Festival or local ‘Brocantes’ or ‘bric a brac / antique markets’.