IN THE AREA
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