IN THE AREA
The area surrounding Puycelsi gives visitors plenty of scope for cultural and active pursuits. Spend some time, for example, at the Base de Loisirs Vère Grésigne (baseveregresigne.com). Just ten kilometres from Puycelsi, this outdoor leisure and activity centre spreads over 20 hectares and offers you the chance to hire canoes to use on the lake, to play tennis or mini-golf, and even to go fishing. The park is open from April to August and there is supervised bathing in the summer.
Lying 20 kilometres to the south-east of Puycelsi, the historic town of Gaillac is famous for the wines that bear its name. Visit one of the many producers in the area, but don’t miss the impressive Abbaye Saint-michel, which hugs the high bank of the River Tarn.
The Château du Cayla near Andillac is a country manor 20 kilometres east of Puycelsi, set in the middle of a lovely forest of oak trees. It has been transformed into a museum (musee-cayla.tarn.fr) dedicated to a former inhabitant, the early 19th-century writer Maurice de Guérin, and his equally literary sister Eugénie. Through a collection of more than 2,500 archival objects, you get a thorough insight into Tarn life 200 years ago.
Drive just over 25 kilometres south of Puycelsi and you will come to the town of Rabastens, where the Église Notre-dame du Bourg contains some magnificent medieval murals. It is little wonder that Unesco has classed it as one of 78 French structures of significance to the Christian faith along the pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, take to the skies for a bird’s-eye view of the area’s awesome scenery on a one-hour balloon ride with Atmosph’air (atmosphair-montgolfieres.fr). With departures from locations including Gaillac, Cordes-sur-ciel, Lautrec and Lavaur, you will have an unforgettable experience.
ABOVE: The town of Gaillac on the River Tarn;
RIGHT: The interior of Église Notre-dame du Bourg in Rabastens