Explore the Tarn’s Beautiful Scenery this Summer

 

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With an unspoilt countryside and an average temperature of 20° in June, early summer is the perfect time to explore the beautiful countryside in the Tarn, southwest France.

Nicknamed the ‘Tuscany of France’, this department lies just north east of Toulouse and offers picture-perfect rolling hills covered in sunflowers, medieval hilltop villages, volcanic landscapes and dramatic canyons. The region offers many activities for visitors to explore its varied landscapes, making this preserved part of France the perfect destination for an active holiday without the crowds.

The Tarn’s scenic and quiet roads are ideal for cyclists wishing to discover an authentic part of France. The department boasts over 2000km of cycling trails, all of which can be found on free maps available in all the tourist offices. The Véloroute de la Vallée du Tarn, for example, takes cyclists on a 380km-long journey across the northern half of the region. Starting from the roman ruins of Montans, it leads to the Pays Albigeois, home to typical medieval bastides such as Lisle-sur-Tarn or Puycelsi. The route ends in Albi, the largest town in the region, a landscape dominated by the stunning red-bricked Sainte Cécile Cathedral – listed World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010 – and its episcopal city.

Keen walkers should head to the Sidobre region, located in the south eastern part of the department. The area is famous for its mysterious forests, black-tinted volcanic mountains and oddly-shaped enormous rocks. This unique landscape and atmosphere inspired many legends: a wild child is for example said to having been discovered here roaming the forests in the late 1790s, after having lived there by himself for several years. Today, visitors can follow his footsteps on walking paths such as Sentier des Légendes, a 90-minute-long, family friendly walk which takes visitors across the forests to climb, hike, and slide down volcanic rocks. Closely resembling statues, some rocks are said to have been placed here aeons ago by local giants who since left the area mysteriously.

Many other walks can be found on free maps distributed in every tourist office in the region, such as Sentier des Bergers, which follows the ancient path local shepherds used to take when herding their sheep. The path takes hikers deep into the forests of the Montagne Noire -the Black Mountain- offering spectacular views on a landscape that has remained unspoilt by human activity for centuries.

Many activities are also on offer throughout the Tarn for thrill seekers and explorers. To allow visitors to make the most of the beautiful canyons of the River Tarn, Escalade Canyoning organises 3-hour supervised excursions of the river’s gorge. The excursion includes climbing, hiking, and diving into the deep waters for a unique action-packed way to discover this scenic part of the region.

 In Albi, Albi Kayak Canoe offers visitors the chance to set off on a 1-hour canoeing tour of the city on the River Agout. The tour departs from the Berbie Palace Gardens at the heart of the medieval centre, and is best done in late afternoon, when the sunset casts changing lights over the red bricked buildings of Albi’s medieval city for a truly magical sight.

Finally, the Adventure Park in Saint-Pierre-de-Trivisy offers 13 trails of various difficulties which take visitors hundreds of feet above the ground at canopy level at the heart of the Haut Languedoc Regional Nature Park. Adventurers of all ages can enjoy climbing, jumping, and sliding down the 25 ziplines amidst the trees to explore the beautiful forests of this part of the region.

 

More information can be found on the following websites:

Le Tarn Tourisme

Sidobre Tourisme

Escalade Canyoning

Adventure Park