Aveyron Gorges
The Aveyron Gorges are the great natural wonder of this part of the world – venture northeast and you won’t go far wrong. Credit © Gillian Thornton

With lots of natural scenic splendour, this is a great place to get out and about, by boat, by bike or on foot

Related articles: Great Destinations, The Waterways of Tarn-et-Garonne
12 Essential Visits in Tarn-et-Garonne

Wine Tourism

Tarn-et-Garonne is home to six PDO wines, including Fronton, Brulhois and Coteaux-du-Quercy; the territory of AOP Fronton was accredited with the Vignobles & Découvertes wine tourism label in 2018. Summer activities at Château Boujac include a 45-minute escape game in the cellars (2-6 players) and picnic walks with a choice of two easily accessible routes (www.chateauboujac.com).

Outdoor Sports

Cycling

The gentle Canal des Deux Mers cycle path runs for almost 700km, arriving in Tarn-et-Garonne at Valence d’Agen and passing through Moissac, the Cacor canal bridge, Castelsarrasin and Grisolles before continuing to Toulouse. A detour up the Montech canal path leads to Montauban. Cycle tourists can also follow marked routes through the Aveyron Valley and Gorges towards the Rouergue and Albigeois, but expect some steep sections!

Canal de Garonne towpath at Montech
With its extensive waterways, a boat is a great way to get around Tarn-et-Garonne. Credit © Gillian Thornton

Boating

Be your own captain on a rental boat from Castelsarrasin, or book a berth on a luxury barge with gourmet food prepared for you, both with Le Boat. With bicycles on board, you can visit all the major sites near the canal.

Kayaking and Climbing

Spend three hours navigating the 9km along the Aveyron river from Saint- Antonin to Cazals; go rock-climbing, or try the Via Ferrata at (www.nature-escapade.com). Canoeing, caving and climbing is also available (www.variation82.eu).

Abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue
The Abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue today houses a museum of contemporary art. Credit © Gillian Thornton

Historic Buildings

The Cistercian Abbaye de Belleperche near Castelsarrasin is home to a permanent exhibition of fashions in table dressing from the Middle Ages to the present day. Visit the restored Abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue, also Cistercian, and the richly furnished Renaissance Château de Gramont. Newly opened in 2019 the Château de la Motte has been in the same family since 1315 but was rebuilt under Louis XV.

At Montech, the ingenious Pente d’eau water slope on the Canal de Garonne avoided a series of five locks by transporting boats between two adapted diesel locomotives up a water-covered incline. It has been out of service since an engine failure in 2009 but will soon be commemorated with a small discovery centre.

Arts and Crafts

New buildings blend into the walls of the former castle in Nègrepelisse to create an art and design centre for contemporary arts with the emphasis on culinary arts. And at Grisolles, Jean-Marc Coulom is the last maker of Occitan brooms made from local straw with strong wooden handles. The town boasted 20 broom workshops and some 400 employees before the First World War, but Jean-Marc’s handmade tools are still in demand for functional and decorative use.

At Donzac, the Conservatoire des Métiers d’Autrefois is a trip back in time to the early 20th century through crafts, trades, and vehicles.

Family-Friendly

Le Petit Paris in Vaïssac is a model of the French capital that has been a 14-year labour of love for Gérard Brion; illuminated visits on summer evenings and over Christmas. Test your nerve and agility at Agrip Adventure forest adventure trail near Montauban; 10 levels of difficulty, from age three up.

For more things to do in Tarn-et-Garonne go to www.tourisme-tarnetgaronne.fr

From France Today magazine

 Montech water slope
The Montech water slope is fascinating for anyone with an interest in engineering. Credit © Gillian Thornton

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