A Postcard from the Tarn

A Postcard from the Tarn

For anyone who doesn’t know the Tarn, it’s a department located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of South West France. It gets its name from the River Tarn that runs through the department. It’s creation in the late 1700’s came about from the grouping of three different dioceses: Albi, Castres and Lavaur all of which were historically part of Occitanie. The main areas of historic and tourist interest in the Tarn are Albi, which is also the department’s capital, Castres, Gaillac, Lavaur, Mazamet and Cordes although there are plenty of other interesting and attractive areas in this particular corner of France.

A landlocked area that is rich in variation when it comes to landscapes, the Tarn is a culturally varied and interesting area too. Even some of the small towns and villages have a really diverse range of cultural highlights. For today’s postcard, we’ve decided to highlight Albi, which, as we’ve already mentioned, is the capital of the Tarn.

Albi, is only 85km from Toulouse, which means that no matter where you’re travelling from, you’ll have a good selection of flight options to choose from as well as easy access to the efficient French rail network. Built on the banks of the Tarn, at the heart of this beautiful city stands the cathedral that has recently gained World Heritage Site status from UNESCO, making it a real draw from a tourist point of view. This new status also means that this particular historic monument has enjoyed its fair share of investment, resulting in a superb facelift, making the impact of the cathedral a real “WOW” factor in the Albi crown.

Also in the city is the Musée de Toulouse Lautrec, which is quite simply a “must see” for anyone visiting this area. Set in a 13th century Palais that was a strategic fortress in its early days, it’s not only the artwork that will take your breath away here, but the building itself will detract you, more than certainly calling for a second visit. In between visits, you’ll have the chance to visit the covered market, which is just off the main square in the town. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8am to 2pm it will dazzle with its general buzz as well as the choice of cheeses and fruit and veg, as well as fish and ready to eat meals (if you don’t fancy cooking).

When you’re in this neck of the woods, you’ll certainly be drawn to enjoy the cuisine, which again, like Gascony is heavily duck-driven, with foie gras and confits, as well as cassoulets taking centre stage. One great restaurant in Albi that comes with plenty of accolades is La Table du Sommelier. Also boasting a base in Gaillac, this restaurant is run by Daniel Pestre and his son. It’s a modern affair with a simple, but classy and stylish décor that will enhance your eating experience without detracting from it. In warmer weather it also has a terrace where you can dine al fresco. While this restaurant offers fine dining at its very best and your belt might feel stretched, your wallet certainly won’t. With fixed price menus on offer ranging from 17 to 42 euros, you can dine like a King without needing the budget of a king.

With fine dining, of course there comes fine wine, and when it comes to wine, you won’t go wrong with the wines of Gaillac. There’s a whole host of Gaillac options available including whites, reds and even sparkling. Although not a huge hit in the UK, sweet wine is big in this part of the world, and is the perfect partner to foie gras.

When it comes to character properties for sale in the Tarn, like most places in France there really is something for everyone; from terraced town houses to country castles. The prices, thanks to the relative proximity to Toulouse are slightly higher than in some of the neighbouring departments, but are certainly affordable by UK standards. If you fancy finding out more about the Tarn, why not get in touch? We know the area very well and can help point you in the right direction.