Rocamadour

If you’re planning a holiday to the fabulous Midi-Pyrenees region of France, here are our top 5 destinations for an unforgettable holiday in France.

1. Rocamadour

Rocamadour is a pretty village, dramatically built into the cliff face, in a feat of engineering that attracts 1.5 million visitors every year. Rocamadour has been an important destination on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Campostela for 1000 years. It is built on the site of a shrine famous for its healing powers.

The main attraction is the statue of the Black Madonna, carved from black wood and is housed inside the Chapelle de Notre-Dame – a 12th century Romanesque chapel that is sheltered by an overhang of rock. The Basilica of St Savuer and the Tomb of St Amator are both UNESCO listed World Heritage sites that are not to be missed whilst the château and its ramparts provide a fantastic vantage point for a spectacular view of the village and canyon below.

Be sure to try the famous Rocamadour goat’s cheese, a delicate cheese made from raw goat’s milk that has notes of juniper and other native flowers and herbs of the region.

2. Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val

Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val is located in the south east of the Tarn-et-Garonne department. It is close to the stunning Aveyron Gorge with breath-taking views over a fabulous scenery.

Many of the buildings in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val’s main square date back to the 12th Century, making it notably older than many medieval towns – the town hall here is thought to be the oldest building in the whole of France!

Each Sunday, a brilliant weekly market is held here. It is bursting with colours and flavours amongst many wonderful local produces to sample and purchase. Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val is an artisan’s dream and you can spend a whole day browsing the variety of craft shops it has to offer.

People who enjoy an active holiday are also well catered for here with a wide range of different activities nearby including hiking, horse-riding, even paragliding. If you enjoy your water sports, there is also kayaking on the Averyron and fishing – amongst just some of the many lively experiences to fill your days and week!

3. Cahors

Cahors

Cahors is a lovely small city that is home to ‘black wine’ from the malbec grape, the location has been uniquely built on the River Lot.

The city is well-known for its stunning bridge, the Pont Valentré, which was restored in the late 1800s by Paul Goute. The structure is made up of 6 arches, 2 three-storey square towers and 2 castles at either end. The city is now recognised as a ‘ville d’art et d’histoire’, a town of art and history, but Cahors’ real reputation is as a wine producing area that has been known for its wines since the reign of Francois I. Specialising in rich, full-bodied red wines (from at least 70% malbec grapes) Cahors is surrounded by vineyards and châteaux peppered around the countryside.

Explore the fabulous Old Town of narrow streets and medieval houses where you’ll find the cathedral St Etienne, a great example of the merging flamboyant Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles. You can also follow a trail of the ‘secret gardens’, showcasing some wonderful horticulture as well as taking you past all the main sights of the city.

4. Toulouse

Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France and is nicknamed the “ville rose” (the pink city) due to the rose-coloured bricks that make up many of its buildings. Be sure to pay a visit to the ‘Place du Capitol’, a stunning 18th century building in the city of Toulouse. All under one spectacular roof it houses the city hall, opera house and a donjon – which is now the Tourist Office.

There are many fabulous museums here to explore including the fantastic Natural History Museum or discover art museums such as the Foundation Bomberg. Musée les Abattoirs is a contemporary art museum which had been converted from a slaughterhouse!

Toulouse is a shopper’s paradise with bookshops, chic boutiques, antiques shops and even a shop devoted to everything Tin Tin! Toulouse has several 7-day markets selling fresh produce, books and bric-a-brac. As a lively university town, there’s always plenty going on and many fantastic restaurants and bars to choose from.

5. Montauban

Montauban

Montauban is the capital of the Tarn-et-Garonne department of Midi-Pyrénées and is a lively town filled with art and history. Visit Place Nationale, a pretty square with a daily market selling fabulous local produce.

The streets in the centre of Montauban are pedestrianised and has been filled with cafes, restaurants and lovely shops to browse for bargains to take home as a souvenir from your trip. Old Montauban is perfect for wandering around and discovering beautiful old architecture such as the stunning Church of St James and a 14th century bridge that stretches over the river Tarn.

Don’t miss the Musée Ingres showcasing the work of local artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and sculptures by Antoine Bourdelle residing in Montauban. The museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions, check out the Musée Ingres website to find out what’s taking place during your stay.

To see the full range of holiday options available for your getaway to France, please visit www.holidayfrancedirect.com

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