Top Five Reasons to Visit the Tarn in 2018
The region of Tarn is a beautiful department of south west France, which lies north east of Toulouse and surrounds the town of Albi and its world-famous cathedral. Less known than Dordogne, the Gers or the Haute Garonne, it is one of the most preserved parts of France and is affectionally referred to as the ‘Tuscany of France’. The region is known for its rolling hills covered in sunflowers, its preserved authenticity and its outstanding local gastronomy, which includes the pink garlic of Lautrec, the spice saffron, Foie Gras, as well as the charcuterie.
The Tarn offers many events throughout the year, offering visitors the chance to discover the various towns of the departement. Here are our top 5 reasons to put the beautiful Tarn on your bucket list in 2018.
- The Venetian Carnival in Castres, March
The town of Castres has become affectionally known as ‘the Venice of Languedoc’, a nickname earned thanks to its numerous pastel coloured houses which sit on the banks of the Argout River. And like Venice, the town hosts its own carnival each year and becomes home to strange characters wearing colourful masks and costumes from the 17th and 18th century. This year the carnival is set to open with Festa sull’acqua -a parade on the river at night- which can be watched from the oldest bridges of the town. In addition to the Venetian characters, the parade will be featuring acrobats, fire-eaters, and light displays, offering an outstanding magical show.
- The Grand Falconer’s Medieval festival in Cordes sur Ciel, July
With its centuries-old stone houses so typical of the bastide villages of the Tarn, Cordes sur Ciel is a striking sight that has barely changed for centuries. Located at the very top of a large rock, the village is the perfect setting for the Grand Falconer’s Festival. Visitors will be able to step back in time as the town celebrates its rich history and offers a glimpse into the fascinating middle ages. The many re-enactors, performers, acrobats and musicians, all in costumes, will ensure that everyone will be entertained. Many activities will be on offer as part of the celebrations, and visitors will be able to watch medieval tournaments, falconry performances, but also learn about weaponry and ironwork. Guests will also be invited to join the costumed feast to have a taste of medieval cuisine, before wandering through the stalls of the medieval market, which will offer jewellery, clothes, as well as local food, wine, and crafts.
- Discover the Tarn’s 5 UNESCO-listed treasures, Summer
The Tarn is proud to boast no less than 5 heritage sites and cultural artefacts listed by UNESCO, offering visitors a chance to discover the cultural heritage of the region. In addition to its episcopal city – added to the World Heritage list in 2010-, the town of Albi is home to the Mappa Mundi, the oldest surviving map of the world, which was added to the UNESCO Heritage Registry in 2015. Outside Albi visitors can also visit the church Notre-Dame du Bourg in the charming village of Rabastens. An impressive sight with its red brick exterior, it is its outstanding mural paintings in vivid colours that placed it on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2006. Further afield, visitors can explore the village of Cammazes, which also boasts its own historical site: it was here that a water tunnel was built under the “Black Mountain” in the 17th century to bring water to the Canal du Midi. Today the 122 metres long tunnel is considered a prowess in engineering and has been part of the World Heritage list since 1996. Finally, the Dom Robert Museum in Soreze also boasts a stunning collection of tapestries which were made using the Aubusson technique, an ancestral tradition which was recognised as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009, offering a unique insight into the rich history of art in the region.
- European Heritage Days City break in Albi, September
The largest town in Tarn, Albi is the heart of culture in the region. Best known for its magnificent cathedral Saint Cecile -the largest brick cathedral in the world, it was added to the UNECSO World’s Heritage list in 2010. The city has much to offer and is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway in early September, when temperatures are still warm and many buildings -closed during the year- open their doors to visitors for a weekend in celebration of the European Heritage Days. Visitors can then discover many of the historical Tudor style houses and guildhalls such as the Maison du Veil Albi, and take in the splendid sights Albi has to offer. The gardens of the Berbie Palace – formerly the Episcopal Palace, for example, offer spectacular views over the river Tarn below. Today, Berbie Palace itself is home to the Toulouse Lautrec museum, which gives an insight into the life and work of famous French painter Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, native to the area. Other museums, such as the Museum of Fashion for example, make the city an attractive cultural destination.
- The launch of the Gaillac Primeur Wine, Gaillac, November
The Tarn is proud to be home to some of the oldest vineyards in France, located in the north of the region. At the heart of the vineyards sits the town of Gaillac, which each year celebrates the launch of its new wine, the Gaillac Primeur. Taking place on the 3rd Thursday of November, the celebrations provide the ideal moment for visitors to discover this charming town, known for its rural and authentic atmosphere. For the occasion Gaillac will be hosting many markets, free concerts and buffets, offering visitors the chance to discover the rich food and wine heritage of the Tarn. Many winemaking estates will also open their doors and offer guided visits, giving visitors an opportunity to learn about the traditions and ancient techniques involved in the process and history of winemaking. Wine tasting sessions will also be on offer, and visitors will be able to join several guided hikes and cycling circuits through the vineyards, offering a fascinating insight into the culture and history of one of the most preserved parts of France.
For more information please visit Le Tarn Tourisme, www.tourisme-tarn.com/tarn/en.