The Tarn is a glorious meeting place of those desirable features we cannot fail to worship, with her back resting against the Pyrenean mountains, the rocky slopes and upland pastures fall into deep dales, wide plains and sunlit forests, also close to the cities of Toulouse, Carcassonne and Montpellier. The department of Tarn borders south west France and the 'Midi'. The availability of surrounding airports provides excellent and versatile travel options; Toulouse is 60 miles away, Carcassonne is 100 miles while Bergerac is 120 miles drive. The Paris – Toulouse TGV fast train service with local rail links as also a favourite.
With short mild winters averaging 14.7 degrees and sun soaked summers, the climate offers the best of cool green Atlantic freshness with the warmth of the Mediterranean. The Tarn has approximately 2,380 hours of sunshine annually with temperatures rising to 40 degrees.
The Tarn is currently advancing planning for the building and renovation of many schools, and is investing in sports such as Rugby, Volleyball and Hiking, making this an excellent family destination. This is a departement of great contrasts which can be experienced merely by walking, riding or cycling from one world to another through an excellent network of footpaths, bridle paths and cycle paths. With a choice of four impressive rivers (the Tarn, the Viaur, the Cerou and the Agout), Canoeing, and Kayaking are popular sports. Panoramic views surround the 6 superb golf courses in the area. A child friendly environment prevails with amazing features such as the natural adventure park in Saint Pierre de Trivisy with 4 hectares of tree games and mountain biking in the Gresigne Forest.
Evidence of a rich and troubled history from the Romanesque to the Renaissance is everywhere. Historic monuments abound and are just as varied as the beautifully restored farms and characterful properties available to view and purchase. An authentic and colourful quality of life mirrors the cultural contrast of the Montagnes Noires with Aquitaine to the West and the Midi to the East. Oak and beech forest abound providing the backcloth for such jewels as Cordes-sur-Ciel where the Albigeois artisans have been producing musical instruments since 1221. Albi itself is the capital of the Tarn with the internationally proclaimed monuments of the Toulouse Lautrec museum and the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia. The beauty and fascination of Albi and its surrounding areas has drawn attention to the property market and highlighted the variation of affordable real estate. Another ‘must’ to see is the town of Castres where you will find the Goya museum and the Jean Jaures National Centre, and the magnificent Soreze Abbey school, the former military school in the reign of Louis XIV. Villages of light and shade abound in the Bastides Albigeoises and the river Tarn flows to the foot of the Palais de la Berbie.
Fascinating contrasts of landscape and feature influence the rich variety of building materials for the housing market. In Sidobre there are the rough granite blocks of the unspoiled scenery and the slate and granite quarries providing rich raw materials. Spinning mills and dairies are numerous and some beckoning to be restored. The Beech and Oak forests at the foot of the mountains yield magnificent wood for house and barn building. The plains and fertile soil of the Pays de Cocagne smile with the abundance and the warmth of stone built cottages, houses small holdings and farms.
Fifty kilometres east of Toulouse lie the famous Gaillac vineyards where, in 1997, the Comite Interprofessionel du Sud Ouest granted Appellation d’origine controlee to Abbey Saint Michel and better still taste the elegant and lively Fraicheur perlee as an aperitif with foie gras salad.
The cuisine of the Tarn is full blooded and very wide ranging. The strawberries peaches and melons of the plains marry well with the air dried hams of Lacaune for example, the lamb from Lauragais or the Cepes from Gresigne. Typical local dishes are fried river perch fillets with nettle butter, rack of lamb, radishes with salted liver and tournedos of guinea fowl with a stuffing of Cepes. The people of the Tarn take time to enjoy life, preserve their traditions and heritage, and are proud to welcome you to a land where there is so much to savour.
In summer mountain temperatures are pleasantly warm – like a British summer’s day. The mountain areas commonly have a cooling breeze and there are rushing streams and tranquil mountain lakes for a refreshing dip after a hard climb. At lower levels the summer heat will be something to avoid during the middle of the day, so make sure you have some good sun covers and lots of sun cream. Evenso, the summer sun invasion is a delight to the senses making each day an invigorating adventure full of profound joy.
In autumn the valley sides are bright with colour as the leaves turn every shade of orange, red and yellow. The weather will be cooler again – and the Indian Summers are ideal for walking and cycling and generally being more active throughout the day than in the height of summer. The first snows tend to touch the highest peaks in late October – lending a stunning, crisp backdrop to the landscape, whilst morning frost at lower levels leave a delightful cutting edge to the landscape.
In winter, don’t be surprised to find temperatures really dropping where ever you are in the region and you may even wake up to a blanket of snow. The Pyrenees receive less snow than the Alps, but there's plenty of skiing fun to had with a pleasantly mild climate without the bitter January temperatures.
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