Welcome to the Tarn, a land of Character, steeped in history. Our signature trip in southwest France is an authentic discovery of a region with a rich landscape: a mix of rolling fields and vineyards with expansive views, sunny plateaux, ancient oak forests, and deep rocky gorges.
The Tarn is also a terroir of Gastronomy: a land of plenty where truffles, sunny wines, and duck delights make dishes fit for kings.
But above all, the Tarn is a Land of History: castles, majestic abbeys, medieval cities – a testament to France’s history. If you want to uncover the essence of French culture through hiking in stunning landscapes, visiting places filled with stories, and experiencing culinary and craft activities, this active trip is the one for you.

Highlights

Day By day

Welcome in “La Ville Rose”

Your authentic tour through southwest France begins from either Bordeaux or Paris. You’ll then take a direct TGV train to the city of Toulouse, a hub of culture and history, where your incredible journey begins! Known as the Pink City due to its abundance of terra cotta brick buildings, Toulouse stands as the capital of the Occitanie region. After settling into your carefully hand-picked accommodation, embark on a unique experience: a Music & Dinner Cruise along the serene waterways of Toulouse. Enjoy a delightful dinner while listening to live music, with the light reflecting on the Garonne River. This charming cruise not only introduces you to Toulouse's gastronomic delights but also provides a captivating introduction to the city's ambiance. Overnight: Toulouse

Epicurean Day

Your day starts with a delightful culinary experience and a guided tour of Toulouse Market. Explore French gastronomy and culture, connect with passionate local artisans and experience a slice of local life. Spend a morning learning the skills and secrets of French market shopping with a passionate local food expert. The afternoon is dedicated to self-guided exploration, as you immerse yourself in the ambiance and history of France’s “Ville Rose”. Over the course of two thousand years, Toulouse has left an indelible mark on the history of France. Enduring invasions, fires, and occupations, Toulouse has been the Visigoths' seat, a Cathar town, the centre of the pastel trade, the birthplace of Aéropostale, and is now the aeronautics capital. Discover how history has shaped Toulouse’s streets, its landmarks, and the population's identity. Overnight: Toulouse

The Unspoiled “Pays des Bastides”

Your authentic French experience continues as you travel to the Land of the Bastides. Scattered across the Midi-Pyrenees in southwest France are hundreds of medieval towns known as Bastides. Perched high on rocky hilltops, villages like Puycelsi, Penne, and Cordes have vigilantly overlooked the surrounding countryside for centuries. Pick up your rental car in Toulouse and head into the heart of the Tarn. The first stop is Saint-Sulpice la Pointe where you’ll embark on a fascinating underground journey, exploring the medieval Castel's subterranean passages. Uncover the secrets concealed within the ancient walls, admire the well-preserved architecture, and relive the bygone days of medieval life. Once back above ground, take a leisurely stroll through the town's charming streets or enjoy an authentic meal at one of its restaurants. Continue through the picturesque Tarn countryside and visit Château Terride in Puycelsi for a delightful wine-tasting experience. Take some time to discover this charming village which sits atop an isolated, cliff-lined hill with its distinctive character, fortified gates, and artisan shops. Then from Puycelsi it’s on to Castelnau-de-Montmirail, another one of France’s most beautiful villages, which has a picturesque central square surrounded by splendid timber-framed historic houses. Overlooking the Vère Valley, amid the Gaillac vineyards, this Albigensian bastide, founded by Count Raymond VII of Toulouse, houses within its church the reliquary cross of the Counts of Armagnac, adorned with 310 precious stones. At the end of the day drive to Cordes-sur-Ciel, one of the best-preserved medieval villages in the whole of France. A great way to end your day of medieval adventure. Overnight: Cordes-sur-Ciel

Walking through history and panoramic views

Explore the beautiful village of Cordes-sur-Ciel, widely considered to be one of the finest fortified settlements in France. Discover the narrow winding streets of its old town and admire the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance buildings, which are incredibly well-preserved.  Cordes-sur-Ciel was voted as France's favourite village in 2014 and it's not hard to see why when you meander through this remarkable Tarn village. Afterward, you have several beautiful hikes to choose from, which will be described in your personalised guidebook. High Point Holidays has been running walking holidays in the Tarn for many years. Check out our centre-based hiking trip in the Tarn to find out more about what we offer. One of the hikes sets out from Cordes-sur-Ciel, climbing to the limestone plateaux to the south of the village, offering great panoramic views of Cordes. Hike through the vineyards of the Gaillac wine region of Tarn and the hamlet of Souel before returning to Cordes. Overnight: Overnight: Cordes-sur-Ciel

Guided walking through Gaillac Wines

Refreshed from a restful night and a delightful breakfast, your outdoor trip in southwest France continues with a second day of walking, this time in the company of your local guide Stefani. She’ll take you on a walk through the vineyards of the Gaillac wine region. Beautiful panoramic views accompany your hike which stretches all the way to the distant Pyrenees mountains. During the course of your walk, you’ll take a break at the Escausse vineyard for a tasting and discover the variety of wines in the Tarn, many fermented from unique grape varieties only grown on these chalky soils. As well as the wine you can discover the wildlife of the area and all the uses for the different plants that you’ll see along the way. At the end of the day return to Cordes-sur-Ciel and enjoy a drink from the heights of the fortifications, whilst looking out over the beautiful green valleys and hills of the Tarn. Overnight: Cordes-sur-ciel

Najac by train

Today you're going on a mini adventure into the Aveyron, for another wonderful hike in a relatively unpopulated region of wooded hills and deep secluded valleys just north of the Tarn. Drive to the pretty village of Laguepie and catch a small local train to the dramatic village of Najac. It’s a stiff climb from the station to the village's ridgetop location so you’ll probably want refreshment in a typical café upon your arrival! Najac is a wonderful historic village that stretches for about one mile along the ridgetop. Halfway along visit the village’s medieval castle which offers remarkable views across the surrounding French countryside. Afterwards, follow the St James’ Way trail over remote hills and then along the Aveyron valley through enchanted forests to reach Laguepie. Return to Cordes-sur-ciel for your last night within the medieval walls of this beautiful village. Overnight: Cordes-sur-ciel

Délices chocolatés and Ambialet’s historical Immersion

What better way to reward yourself after the excursions of your last few active days than to indulge in a delightful chocolate experience at the Musée des Arts du sucre et du chocolat! Take a tour of the museum in Lisle-sur-Tarn and explore the captivating exhibition featuring art made from sugar and chocolate. Immerse yourself in the nuances of chocolate craftsmanship and engage in a Chocolate workshop, where you'll delve into the art of chocolate making. Next, head to Albi, the main town of the Tarn for a journey back in time. Guided by a certified storyteller portraying a humorous 14th-century women in period attire, discover Albi as it existed in that era. Explore the city’s cathedral, said to be the largest brick-built building in the world, the influential bishop's palace, vibrant districts of the past, and the daily lives of Albi's inhabitants... An immersive visit not to be missed! Afterward, visit the Toulouse-Lautrec museum which houses over 1000 of his works or just stroll by the river and relax in one of the numerous cafés and bars. At the end of the day seek tranquility in Ambialet, where a two-night stay awaits you at a cozy guesthouse, providing a serene escape amidst picturesque surroundings. Overnight: Ambialet

Morning exploration and nautic adventure

Your independent and authentic active tour of the Tarn continues as you embark on an exhilarating morning adventure exploring the 'Sentier de l'Ambialade.' Along this heritage trail, discover the Ambialet peninsula, its churches, village, and priory. This circuit unveils the various monuments and remnants of Ambialet. From the ancient monastery atop the promontory, enjoy a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the isthmus of the Tarn River. Lace up your shoes and uncover the stories and traditions along this captivating trail. Keep the excitement going in the afternoon with a water adventure in Ambialet (by canoe, kayak, or paddle). Explore the scenic waters and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings as the adventures continue. Overnight: Ambialet

Journey Through History

Back on the road, it’s time to leave the Tarn behind and head for Carcassonne one of the jewels in southwest France! Along the way, we suggest stopping off in Castres to explore the charm of this town nestled along the scenic Agout River. In Castres, the fusion of different cultures, most notably Spanish humour and Italian dolce vita adds a delightful touch to the good life! Embark on a leisurely barge adventure, visit the museums dedicated to Goya and Jaurès, savour moments on a terrace, and meander through the captivating maze of cobbled streets – an ideal spot to unwind! In the afternoon, arrive at the enchanting walled city of Carcassonne and immerse yourself in its rich history through a guided tour. From the ramparts to the Basilica of St Nazaire, passing by the Château Comtal delve into the essence of this influential city, unique in Occitanie. Allow the ancient tales of this iconic fortress town to unfold as you stroll through its medieval streets before settling into your cozy hotel nestled in the heart of the medieval city. Overnight: Carcassonne

A day of creativity and scenic exploration

Your authentic French adventure continues with a morning dedicated to unleashing your inner creativity! You have the option of choosing between two workshops. The first workshop, situated in the heart of Carcassonne, invites you to join an artisan jeweler. Learn the art of crafting silver jewelry and witness the intricate creation process, each piece inspired by a free-spirited universe of rocks, mythical creatures, and blooming flowers. The second authentic workshop takes place in the charming village of Alzonne, just a 20-minute drive from Carcassonne. Under the expert guidance of a skilled ceramic artist, immerse yourself in creating your very own masterpiece! After lunch, embark on a bike tour along the canal to Trèbes on the interactive "Between Banks and Locks" tour. Cycling to the rhythm of nature, traverse vineyards and fields shaded by plane trees, all while observing the passage of barges and boats. Covering 26km over 2 hours. Overnight: Carcassonne

A land of legends and Castles

Embark on a captivating journey through the mystical "Pays Cathare" while exploring its historic castles. The Cathar Country situated between the Pyrenees and Toulouse is historically linked to the Cathars, a religious group considered heretical by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. This area is renowned for its rich historical sites, including castles, abbeys, and towns associated with Catharism. From the imposing walls of Carcassonne to the rugged beauty of Queribus, you'll step back in time as you discover the medieval riches of each castle that adorn imposing hills overlooking the rugged coutryside of this corner of rural France. There's a wide range of options based on your interests: Quéribus, Peyrepertuse, Puilaurens, Montségur, Termes, Lastours… Overnight: Carcassonne

Last day of discovery

As your authentic French adventure comes to an end, enjoy some additional moments in the charming town of Carcassonne before heading to Toulouse, where you'll conclude your journey or book an extra night in the city. We hope you enjoyed our unique signature trip, an immersion in southwest France through a mix of active tours including hiking, biking and kayaking, and cultural and gastronomic activities. This land of character, gastronomy, and history will no doubt last long in the memory. 

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Our Expertinsight

“Whilst many of the villages in Provence can be crowded with visitors in busy periods, those in the Tarn in southwest France remain relatively peaceful and a pleasure to explore at your own pace. You’ll feel like you’ve come across a secret and wonder why no one else ventures to this part of rural France! In terms of the Tarn villages, my personal favourite is Najac, lost in the remote Aveyon countryside. A small train trip and you feel like you’ve changed country! It’s very dramatic and worth the walk! This active and cultural trip is best undertaken in late Spring when the orchids adorn the sides of the trails or in Autumn when the vines are at their coulourful best. The summer months can be too hot for longer hikes, but we can always adapt the days as necessary and find you guest houses with swimming pools!”

Marion, Local Expert

Testimonials

guillemet

We enjoyed the medieval villages/hamlets, the local cuisine and wonderful hosts.
John & Annette J.

guillemet

We certainly all had a brilliant time thanks to the magnificent efforts you made for us. Cordes is the perfect venue and the hotel couldn’t have been any better. The experiences you set up over and above the pleasure of the walks were beyond all expectations and I should like to reiterate my sincere thanks to you for everything.
Bridget W.

We are

a full-service Tour Operator and our trips generally include:
accommodation, transportation, visits, immersive experiences, personal crafting, unique roadbook creation and assistance on the ground (meals &amp, flights excluded). Please note that this trip price will vary based on factors such as your hotel preferences, your favourite transportation mode, whether you want to take part in shared group activities or private experiences, travel dates, and more. To receive a customized quote for your tailor-made trip, please reach out to us directly.

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