France - - Take A Stroll -

Albi’s cen­tral po­si­tion in the Tarn dé­parte­ment makes it a con­ve­nient base to ex­plore the area’s lush land­scape of rolling hills, his­toric vil­lages and en­chant­ing forests.

Around 25 kilo­me­tres from Albi stands the for­ti­fied hill­top vil­lage of Cordes-sur-ciel, which some­times looks like an is­land sur­rounded by a ‘sea’ of fog. A place of fairy-tale charm, the vil­lage is steeped in his­tory and su­per­sti­tion, and of­fers dreamy views of the coun­try­side. The cob­ble­stone streets are filled with art and crafts shops, and you can find plenty of good restau­rants in Place de la Halle.

On the edge of the Grésigne for­est and with views of the Vère Val­ley, an­other for­ti­fied vil­lage, Puycelsi, is sur­rounded by 800 me­tres of ram­parts. The for­ti­fi­ca­tions act as a walkway that al­lows visi­tors to make a cir­cuit of the vil­lage while en­joy­ing spec­tac­u­lar views. A nearby walk­ing route, the Sen­tier du Pat­ri­moine, of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to see wood­land wildlife in­clud­ing deer, as well as ea­gles and kites.

Tarn is fa­mous for Gail­lac wines, with pro­duc­tion go­ing back to Ro­man times. May to Oc­to­ber is the best time to fol­low the Chemins de la Vigne walk­ing route where you can meet wine pro­duc­ers and sam­ple the red, white, rosé and sparkling wine. If you visit the fam­ily-run Château de Mayragues (chateau-de-mayragues. com), north of the town of Gail­lac, you can also stay overnight in their cham­bre d’hôte.

For out­door en­thu­si­asts will­ing to travel a lit­tle fur­ther, the Lac des Mon­tag­nès in the very south of Tarn has a range of ac­tiv­i­ties. There are trails and paths for hik­ers and mountain bik­ers, the lake it­self for swim­mers and an­glers, as well as mini-golf and pic­nic ar­eas.

If you hap­pen to miss the buzz of big city-life, take ad­van­tage of fly­ing in and out of France’s fourth-largest city and ex­plore Toulouse. Shop at the food mar­kets, en­joy the lively bar and restau­rant scene, lose your­self in the old town, or take a trip to the fu­tur­is­tic Cité de l’es­pace theme park, for in­sights into space ex­plo­ration.

ABOVE: The hill­top vil­lage of Cordes-sur-ciel; BE­LOW: The ram­parts of Puycelsi

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