- At a glance
- Locality & Walks
- Accommodation & Meals
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Your Holiday at a Glance
|Independent Walking Holiday||
|Dates for 2020||
|Accommodation and Meals||
|What's not included||
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Tarn's Medieval Bastides
A large number of medieval villages known as Bastides are scattered throughout the Tarn in southern France. From high on rocky hilltops, these timeless places such as Puycelsi, Penne, Castlenau, Bruniquel and Cordes-sur-Ciel have kept watch over the surrounding countryside for centuries. Our self-guided walking holiday explores these wonderful settlements, many classed as some of the prettiest villages in France. The Tarn landscape is a mix of rolling fields and vineyards with expansive views, sunny plateaux, ancient oak forests and deep rocky gorges. Your circular walking trail not only links some of the prettiest villages in France but also explores the full range of Tarn’s beautiful landscapes, whilst staying in delightful chambre d'hote style guest houses.
This self-guided or independent walking holiday in the Tarn region of France is made up of 6 walks moving between guest houses. The walks average about 17km with limited ascents and descents although some paths can be rough and stoney in places with the odd steeper section. Average daily ascent is 330m. Some walking days include options to vary the walking length and difficulty.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome, transfer from Gaillac train station and settle in to your first guest house near Castlenau in the Tarn.
Day 2: Castlenau - Donnazac
Your first day starts by climbing to the first of your bastide villages - Castelnau-de-Montmiral. This beautiful village sits on top of a hill with a central square surrounded by wonderful timber-framed historic houses. Your trail then continues west through quiet rolling countryside with a patchwork of Gaillac vines decorating the pretty vistas. After visiting the village of Cahuzac you’ll turn north to reach Donnazac and your wonderful guest house. 21km, +310m
Day 3: Donnazac to Cordes-sur-Ciel
An easier day as you make your way through vineyards, passing historic chateaux and farmsteads to reach the remarkable bastide of Cordes-sur-Ciel, widely considered to be the finest fortified settlement in France. Climb into the old town to explore the narrow winding streets and see the beautiful gothic and renaissance buildings, which are incredibly well preserved. Afterwards, descend to your lovely guest house at the foot of the village. 14km, +240m
Optional extra night and day with possibility of visiting Albi on the banks of the river Tarn, classed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The city is home to Saint Cecile Cathedral, the largest brick built building in the world.
Day 4: Vaour - Bruniquel
Transfer to a small hamlet beyond Vaour. A day of contrasts as you traverse the hills of the Causse Magrou before descending to reach the Aveyron Gorge. Just before you reach the gorge, you can climb to reach the pretty ridge-top village of Penne with its ruined castle. Afterwards you have the choice of following the bottom of the gorge or the plateau above to reach your next bastide - Bruniquel. Like many of the villages you’ll explore, this is also classed as one of the prettiest villages in France. Explore its steep streets lined with historic dwellings. 17km, +350m
Day 5: Bruniquel to Puycelci
Your trail takes you into the forest of Gresigne which is the largest forest in the Tarn and the greatest oak forest in the South of France. It was also the hunting forests of King Francois I. A choice of trails depending on the distance you wish to walk. You’ll finish by climbing to another wonderful hilltop bastide. Puycelci has been a strategic highpoint from prehistoric times. This small village is the archetypal bastide with its church and houses encircled by protective walls which sit on the edge of vertical cliffs. 14 - 18km, +380m
Day 6: Puycelci to Castlenau de Montmiral
You’ll descend from Puycelci to reach the Vere Valley which you’ll never leave for too long during your day's walking. Your trail passes through a quiet rural scene of farms, manors and small hamlets. You’ll undulate across a number of small tributary valleys in and out of woods to return to your guest house near Castlenau. 16km, +330m
Day 7: Tour from Castlenau de Montmiral
For your last day you have a choice of walks from your guest house, either on the north in the Gresigne forest or south into Sivens forest. Plenty of interest throughout in these deciduous forests. You can of course choose to relax by the pool at your guest house.
Day 8: Departure
Transfer to Gaillac station after breakfast.
For useful advice about independent walking and preparing for your self guided holiday please take a look at the articles in our top-tips section.
Once you have booked on this independent walking or trekking holiday, further information about the walking, the region and what to bring, will be sent to you. We do have a web page dedicated to what clothes and equipment you should bring. Please contact us if you need any further information.
Accommodation & Meals
On this independent walking holiday in the Tarn, you will stay in a number of charming bed & breakfasts full of local character. All rooms have private bathrooms. Examples of the guest houses used on the walking holiday are shown below. They are small, charming guest houses which include renovated farms in beautiful rural locations, as well as exquisite historic houses with the town walls. At all your guest houses you'll be treated to a warm welcome. Many of the guest houses have swmming pools.
A hearty and healthy continental breakfast provides the perfect opportunity to discover the local specialities such as home-made jams and local yoghurt. At midday you will eat packed lunches prepared by your hosts. Evening meals will be taken at your guest houses where you will be treated to delicious local delicacies and great wine, except where they are not included in the price where you'll have a free choice of restaurants.
|Les Vents Bleus||B&B||Beautiful old vineyard, restored to create a guest house full of charm with swimming pool, warm welcome and lovely food||4 corns|
|Maison au Puits||B&B||Renovated 18th century house at the foot of the historic villlage of Cordes-sur-Ciel. Warm welcome from Nico and Christianne|
Transfer between Gaillac train station and your first and last guest house in the Tarn included in your holiday price.
Eurostar, TGV and then TER French trains allow you to get to Gaillac train station from where you'll be given a transfer to your guest house in the Tarn near Castlenau. Changes between the Eurostar and TGV are at Lille or Paris. TGV's run from Paris Austerlitz to Toulouse from where you can change for a train to Gaillac, heading towards Rodez or Albi. For some trains you can also change at Montauban rather than Toulouse and then take a train or bus (run by the train company) to Gaillac.
There are flights from French and UK airports toToulouse. Operators from UK airports include Easyjet from Bristol and Gatwick, Jet2.com from Leeds - Bradford and Manchester, and British Airways from London Heathrow. From the airport, take a shuttle bus to Toulouse train station and from there, a local train to Gaillac. Shuttle bus is found at door B3 on the ground floof and the journey costs about €5.50.
Please visit our travel shop for links to useful sites for reserving airport parking or booking train tickets
Note: Please check concerning the availability of a holiday before booking any flights. If you need further information or would like to discuss any aspect of your travel arrangements, please contact us, we’re here to help you.
Self Drive from UK
Channel ferry crossings from Dover are provided by a number of operators including P&O Ferries & DFDS seaways. Crossings are also provided by train with Eurotunnel.
Once in France, the journey from Calais to your first guest house takes about 10-11 hours (excluding long breaks). You can leave your car at your first guest house for the duration of your walking holiday.