Show Notes for Episode 494: Exploring the Treasures of Tarn: A Comprehensive Guide

Categories: Occitanie, Toulouse Area

Discussed in this Episode

  • Tarn
  • Albi
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel
  • Lautrec
  • Castres
  • Gaillac
  • Mazamet
  • Pont Suspendu
  • Gorges du Tarn
  • Les Gorges du Tarn
  • Massif Central
  • Black Mountains
  • Gaillac Wine Country
  • Carmaux
  • Cagnac des Mines
  • Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe
  • Saint-Juéry
  • La Bruguière
  • Rabastens
  • Lisle-sur-Tarn
  • Ocillon
  • Giroussens
  • Jardin des Martels
  • Soreze
  • Dom Robert Museum of Tapestry
  • Ambialet
  • Castelnau de Montmiral
  • Lacaune
  • Forest of Grésigné
  • Sidobre Forest
  • waterfalls of Arifat
  • Passerelle de Mazamet


The Tarn is a department north and northeast of Toulouse that is very varied in its geography and in its history too. It is a region that has almost all the kinds of landscape you can imagine, from ancient stone villages perched high up on hills, to deep valleys with rivers, and forests with hidden treasures. Named after the beautiful river, Tarn that crosses it, the Tarn region has many many things to offer.

For those seeking a day trip from Toulouse or Albi, or for those looking for a place to stay for several days, or longer, there is something here for everyone

These are the categories of the different kinds of visit you can do and the names of some of the most famous or impressive places to see.


 ALBI:  A UNESCO SITE the entire old city center is to visit. Cathedral, museum, old cloister, bridges, French garden and ancient narrow streets. A must

CASTRES: Home to both the Jean Jaurès museum and the Goya Art Museum, the city of Castres has a lovely old city center cut through by the Agout, the major tributory of the Tarn with pictoresque and colorful houses perched above the water

GAILLAC: Home to the wine cooperatives and at the center of the wine region, Gaillac is a small town with some old charming brick buildings and is home to some festivals like the Light Festival

RABASTENS: On the Tarn River, with an ancient cathedral and a small but beautiful medieval city center, this charming town is a gateway to the vineyards of the GAillac region

LAVAUR: One of the “brick” cities, Lavaur is famous for its cathedral St Alain, and for the Cathar history surrounding its formation. A fabulous Saturday market in the city center.

SOREZE: A very small town with a famous museum/school, the Dom Robert Museum. An ancient Royal College, this huge building is now the home of an Aubusson tapestry collection. There is also a small museum of glass-making in this charming town close to the Black Mountains

Mazamet: A small city that was once the most important center for wool in all of Europe. Now a small town at the entrance to the Black Mountains it maintains a certain textile activity.


Cordes sur Ciel: The oldest of the famous medieval bastides, perched on a rocky promintory, with five ramparts and the best preserved civil gothic architecture in France

Lautrec: A Most Beautiful Village with its gorgeous old houses, and a worling windmill, surrounded by the famous Lautrec garlic fields!

Lisle sur Tarn: Another beautiful bastide with a famous open square and gorgeous brick arcades dating from the early 1300’s

Ambialet: A tiny village at the bend of the Tarn River with an old monastery and a series of trails for hiking or biking

Castelnau de Montmiral: Up above, in the hills of the Gaillac wine country, this famous medieval village has a gorgeous old center and a fabulous viewpoint overlooking the valleys of Gaillac


Lacaune: A small town hidden in the mountains on the Agout river, famous as the gateway to the Black mountains and for its famous charcuterie too


Between Rabastens and Gaillac, there are a series of chateaux that are open to visitors to taste their wines. Gaillac wines are among the oldest in France and have “regained” their reputation as good wines in the recent past


The forest of Grésigné, close to Castelnau de Montmiral, is a magnificent mixed forest with ancient oak tress that was once the Royal Domain. There are trails for hiking and biking all through the forest and an experimental agricultural center at one entrance near the village of Puycelsi

The Sidobre: This large forest is a massive region of granite boulders. There are over 60 trails to follow and marvel at the “natural” sculptures  in what is considered to be one of the most important deposits of granite in western Europe


Jardin des Martels – a Remarkable Garden

Jardin de l’Ange à Verdalle

The Cascades at Arifat

Mount Lacaune and the Peak of Montalet (the highest point of the Tarn) Famous for its dense forests, river, trails, and its charcuterie!!


The Mine Museum  in Cagnac-les Mines: 300 meters of gallery that explain the history and the life of the mines in this region

Les Cammazes:  In the Black Mountains where Pierre Paul Riquet figured out how to distribute the waters for the Canal du Midi

Crafts Villages

Giroussens: Famous for centuries for its ceramics, there is now a flourishing ceramic/art center with exhibits all year round. The tiny village also has a fabulous viewpoint over the valley of th Tarn

Graulhet: Another village famous since the Middle Ages for its leather work, it has been “revived” in recent years and has both exhibits and a small museum of leather goods. The Maison des Metiers de Cuir is open all summer and on school vacations or by reservation. There is also an old medieval center with half-timbered houses

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Categories: Occitanie, Toulouse Area