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Tourism in the Tarn: six little-known sites to recharge your batteries

The shapes sculpted in the granite by mother nature, gave the Sidobre an atmosphere that one would think straight out of a tale by Jules Verne. (©Tarn Tourism)

The Episcopal city of Albi – listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the village of Cordes-sur-Ciel – favorite village of the French in 2014 and one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France – are certainly the two most famous tourist destinations in the department.

But these are obviously not the only riches that the Tarn has to offer, which is full of places that are a little less famous and visited, but just as interesting.

Presentation of six of these places.


Hautpoul, the Cathar village

Perched on a rocky outcrop, overlooking more than 300 meters the forests of the Montagne Noire and the town of Mazametstands the picturesque village of Hautpoul.

Passing through the gates of this village, to the legendary creation by a Visigoth king, you will go through time to relive the cathar crusades thanks to the work of the Rocque d’Hautpoul association.

The village offers exceptional 360 degree panoramason the Arnette valley and the town of Mazamet, in particular from the rock of the Virgin Where the terraces of the old castle.

A visit to Hautpoul is also an opportunity to take advantage of the Footbridge over the Arnette gorges, opened in 2018.

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The Forest of Grésigne

The national forest of Grésigne extends between the exceptional cities of Castelnau-de-Montmiral, Puycelsi or Penne. Its area of 3,600 hectares in fact theone of the largest oak groves in Europe. The forest is home to a extreme wealth of diversity fauna and flora which allows the Grésigne massif to be classified as natural area of ​​interest ecological, faunistic and floristic in the Natura 2000 network.

The Grésigne forest is also a privileged place for lovers of unspoiled nature since it is dotted with a multitude of trails which will take you from surprise to surprise. Among the highlights of the forest is the Louis XIV wall, still visible in places. It passes a few meters from a place called La Bouygue, commune of Penne. Near the wall maybe found the Eagle Rock better known as “Pech Aguze”.

The Vauban Vault

Built from 1686, 122 meters long and 3 meters highthe Vauban vault is a vaulted gallery carved into the hill of Cammazes, to allow the canal La Rigole de la montagne, to join the lake of Saint-Ferréol, the main supply reservoir of the Canal du Midi.

The Rigole de la Montagne, lined with century-old trees, and the Voûte Vauban were classified with the Canal du Midi as a World Heritage Site in 1996.

Its height of 3 meters makes it accessible on foot and makes it a good plan in these times of high heat, provided you are properly equipped with shoes and flashlight and of exercise some caution.

Ambialet peninsula

In the commune of Ambialet, the Tarn forms an atypical curve which leaves onlya thin strip of land barely thirty meters wide at its narrowest point. For more than two centuries, the Ambialet peninsula was the most important stronghold of the Albigensians. A historical past of which the city still bears the traces.

The Ambialet peninsula offers visitors a unique setting, the fruit of man's adaptation to generous nature.
The Ambialet peninsula offers visitors a unique setting, the fruit of man’s adaptation to generous nature. (© Tarn Valley & Albigeois Mountains Tourist Office)

It’s on the narrower part than the 5th hydroelectric power plant of the Saut du Tarn company was built and put into service in 1920, taking advantage of the exceptional physics offered by the place. A castle-like plant – now operated by EDF – that can be visited.

Sidobre, a world of granite

The Sidobre is a geological eccentricity of mother nature, unique in Europe, which according to legend is the result of the wrath of the gods. This granite world is a children’s account decor which makes it an ideal place of expression for your inner child.

Over the granite formations, the stories follow one another and offer you an enchanted parenthesis, the River of Rocks at the trembling stone and other stones of all shapes.

The Sidober full of activities and places to discover for those who equip themselves with shoes and walking clothes.

Castela Medieval Underground

Under the ruins of Castela castle, known for offering a pleasant green setting, hides a 142 meter long underground that it is possible to visit.

This underground turns out to be a series of galleries and roomsdug in the stone by the inhabitants of Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe, when the castle bore the name of Sicard Alaman, regent of the County of Toulouse.

The regularity of the walls and the vaults as well as the arrangements of this underground create a special atmosphere which do not leave young and old indifferent and offer a real moment of escape.

The exceptional preservation of the Castela underground actually a privileged witness of the medieval period and one of the most beautiful built works that have come down to us.

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