PL Le Cabellec

The hidden treasures of Cordes sur Ciel and the medieval cities

Set out to discover the best kept secrets behind the picturesque facades of our medieval cities and their little hidden corners, and escape for a moment in the Tarn region. Among these inescapable villages, the adventurers will choose their favorite one by paying attention to the small secrets they tell! We take you to meet these architectural treasures, sometimes fortified, often perched. Are you more of a village of character on its rocky outcrop, or a fortified city dominating the valley? In guided tour mode, meeting craftsmen, strolling or activities? With or without a castle, we have what you need!

Jon Davison

A haven of coolness in Cordes sur Ciel

Perched above the Vallée du Cérou, this is one of the oldest bastides in Occitania. This enchanting village enjoyed much prosperity thanks to the cloth, silk and leather trade. In the 13th and 14th centuries, merchants and noblemen built luxurious homes: the Maison du Grand Ecuyer, Maison du Grand Veneur, Maison du Grand Fauconnier, and other Gothic palaces. Strolling through the steep streets of Cordes sur Ciel, you'll see the sculptures on the ochre sandstone façades, which feature dragons, animals and strange characters. These contribute to the legendary atmosphere that reigns in the city of Cordes sur Ciel. With Most Beautiful Village in France status, its Jardin des Paradis (a "Remarkable Garden") offers an oasis of coolness and lush greenery on the fortified terraces. A stroll here is a pleasure for the senses, an enchanted interlude with oriental influences.

Jardin des paradis

Paradise Garden

Not far from the heart of the medieval city, stronghold of craftsmen and artists, on the last fortified terraces is an oasis of freshness and greenery, the Jardin des Paradis, classified as a Remarkable Garden. A stroll here is a pleasure for the senses, an enchanted interlude with oriental influences. A pleasant detour to enhance the visit of the village.

Entre 2 Pôles

The treasure of Castelnau-de-Montmiral

Although it resisted the Hundred Years' War and the Wars of Religion, the typical perched village overlooking the Vère valley has kept its soul. Here, there is no flamboyant abbey, no castle either, it disappeared a long time ago. But between the old half-timbered houses and the flowery and colorful medieval streets of Castelnau-de-Montmiral, its beautiful square with its arcades is a place that invites you to take the time to contemplate.

A few streets further on, you will discover that the Notre-Dame church houses a real treasure: the Reliquary Cross of the Counts of Armagnac : the pride of the villagers for several generations, it is said that it disappeared after the French Revolution before being found by a pig looking for food.

Pascale Walter

Grésigne Forest

About ten kilometres from Castelnau-de-Montmiral is a peaceful place, the state forest of La Grésigne where the mystery of the glassmakers reigns. The largest oak forest in the south of France, it is a must for nature lovers. Several paths await you to explore it in complete serenity on foot, by bike and even on horseback.

Entre 2 Pôles

The medieval charm of Puycelsi

With its ramparts, narrow, almost secret passages, alleyways and fortified gates, the village, nicknamed "the Fortress of the Woods", has retained the mystery of medieval strongholds and takes you back in time. Built on an imposing rock, Puycelsi is encircled by a long walkway that offers superb views of the surrounding countryside, which includes vineyards, forests and hills. Strolling through its narrow streets, one arrives at the entrance to the Saint-Corneille church, which bell tower dominates the valley. On the doorway is a sculpture of a pig recalling a legend dating from the siege by the English, when the Puycelsians had their only pig scream with a spear each day, thus simulating an abundance of feasting. Discouraged by their success in starving them, the English lifted the siege.

Manon Cazaméa

Visiting the village, you will come across many small animals adorning its typical alleys. Keep your eyes open at the bend of every street lined with flowers or ivy.

Manon Cazaméa

Puycelsi's Saint-Corneille church

Inside the church, the paintings are reminiscent of those in the cathedral of Sainte-Cécile in Albi, an architectural jewel in south-west France. Occupied since prehistoric times, the village and its surroundings also reveal vestiges of past times: chapels, walls, a Roman road and charcoal kilns.


Between the stones of the Château de Penne

Here is a charming village called the eagle's nest or the citadel of vertigo. At the top of its rocky peak, where the landscape of the nearby Aveyron gorges can be seen, the medieval fortress seems to take flight among the most remarkable perched villages. As you climb the winding streets of the medieval town of Penne, you will have a breathtaking view of the Grésigne forest and the river below. Its cobbled streets have kept the atmosphere of yesteryear and guide you to the castle, a magnificent building in ruins which has been partly rebuilt. Enter the inner courtyard where parties and banquets were once held. Higher up, the remains of the keep are ideal for daydreaming. You can imagine a thousand crusades and adventures in a journey back in time and enjoy this viewpoint of old stones. In the summer, an excavation site and a living medieval site allow you to discover the restoration work of the Château de Penne, with a team of archaeologists and motivated companions (the Medieval Builders) sharing their discoveries.

CDT 81

In the central village square, the 18th century church and the chapel of Sainte-Madeleine des Albis appeal to lovers of history and medieval architecture.

My Destination

At the bottom of the village, from where the castle imposes its impressive silhouette, we jump into a canoe and off we go for a ride on the Aveyron!

Extend your stay in the heart of the medieval cities of La Toscane Occitane

Only one day in these beautiful villages is a bit short, isn't it? The peacefulness of these small towns makes you want to stay longer to discover the surrounding area, taste the local products, and perhaps push open the door of one of their beautiful houses and spend the night there? Hotels, bed and breakfasts and gites welcome you in Cordes sur Ciel, Castelnau-de-Montmiral, Puycelsi and Penne. You can also enjoy a gourmet break in the shade of old houses whose flower-filled windows let sweet fragrances escape.

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