Montauban is a vigorous city (pop. 51K) . It began as a bastides and traces remain at the city center. It sits above the west bank of the river Tarn next to its old bridge that now connects a suburb on the other side. It makes an interesting day trip out of Toulouse if you are using a car to visit the region, especially if you admire the paintings of its native son, Ingres who left some canvases and thousands of drawings to his city. With these and other paintings by his contemporaries as well as a room devoted to another hometown boy, the sculptor Bourdelle, plus other materials of other provenance, makes it a well rated museum which is housed in a once Bishop’s Palace.
If you are spending some time in this city and you feel like visiting some towns around there's a fantastic option quite near. It's called Cordes Sur Ciele. It's a small village, it's houses are made of stone.
There's only one thing I didnt' like, it's too touristic. But if you are lucky and you don't find too many people you can enjoy it. There's one day that everything is closed (like a resting day) , I seem to remember it was on tuesday (get sure of it), you wont find too many people on this days, but many of the shops and restaurants are closed as well.
The fortified city of Carcassonne
This place is awesome. It's a fortified construction on top of a little plateau covering it all. Even miles away, you have to span left and right to look at it all.
Visiting the interior of the ramparts bring you back a couple of centuries to the knight and conquest period.
More Info: Unfortunately, staying inside the ramparts is difficult and pricy, stay in town at the bottom of the fortified city.
Classification: Museums , Photography , Site Seeing
The village of Conques
One other unavoidable stop in the Cathares region is this village built on a butte. Most crooked streets can eventually get you to the top after numerous detours. Great adventure for a whole day.
You will find a lot of interpretation site that might help you to understand who the Cathares were, what were their beliefs and why they were so persecuted up to their elimination.
Classification: Museums , Hiking , Photography , Site Seeing
Inside the basilica there are two rose windows, which are Biblical - one of Old Testament, on the dark side. The light won't shine through so they used bright colours. The other, New Testament, which light does shine through uses more muted colours. It is very tall. One window reflected upon the floor throws the orange & blue beauty of water. The basilica was built in 1213.
Minerve in the are of Minervois: athwart a gorge, which a tall bridge spans. Light red tile roofs are interspersed with yellow.
A finger of tall castle - all that remains of it - points skywards. The river is subterranean and two huge caves mark entry and exit of river in the past. Vines, obviously, abound. Car parks both sides of the gorge. Cars are allowed to cross the bridge but our coach is too heavy. Clouds race grey and black, rapidly filling any gap in the blue. Broom is abundant and is even served as a decoration with the cherries for dessert. Sweet-smelling it explodes across the countryside in deep, rich, largely-blossomed masses, sometimes single bushes, more usually bright pools.
Minerve was the last stronghold to hold out against Simon de Montfort in the Second Crusade. It held out against him for 7 weeks. They burnt over 1,000 Cathars after the conquest.
Albi for the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum
The works are not the best but some nice pencil sketches, one of a bulldog, others of his mother and others.
Afterwards head towards a garden where you can see a small modern sculpture exhibition, about 10 minutes' walk. Some pleasing lines on the sculptures.
On the way back to the Cathedral along the pedestrian route stop at the ancient church of St Salvy. A small cloister and, inside, 15th C carved figures, stand spotlit at the back of the church in a group. Perhaps one of the key features of the church is the tall lookout tower.
In the middle of the town lies a delightful triangular covered market. A frieze decorates the top. It is closed on Mondays but worth looking at.
The Cathedral in the lower town is dark & has painted columns and roof. Windows, round, line both sides at top.
There is the usual array of small recess chapels. The main entrance is off a green square from the busy little rue Voltaire. The exterior is Gothic Languedoc style, 1355. Inside is a wooden 15thC statue of St Michel. Outside is slab-like, very much the defensive style of its time. Very few gargoyles now remain.
At the end of the Pont Vieux is the small pilgrimage (?) chapel of Notre Dame de Sante - worth the quiet pause for the medieval atmosphere. Inside is an old statue of the Virgin and a wall of tablets of thanks.
2 days should be enough to visit Toulouse, but there are citys close to Toulouse like :
3) Tarascon sur Ariege
1) The faboulous caste of Carcasonne is a must !, it is actually this one that Walt Disney castle was inspired.
2) Nice city whith the famous museum of Toulouse Lautrec, and a nice cathedral
3) A Paradise for caving and climbing, first human being were found in some of these caves, very interesting paintings !
4) The beach and rock climbing ! nice city and very nice town square
5) Grat whine and a marvellous mediaval city, great place for rock climbing as well
you have to see the capitole,in the very center of the city;also l'église saint-cernin,so famous.If you have a car,or by train,you have to go to carcassonne(on the picture,93 kms),where you will see the most beautiful medieval city in the world
An ascent to the Breche de Roland.
This high mountain pass is on the border between France and Spain. In winter it is a serious mountaineering undertaking. From July-September there is less snow but it is more accessible.
The Cathedral of Sainte-Cecile in Albi
The size of that place is incredible. The visit is a must.
Classification: Photography , Site Seeing
Walk the ramparts of Carcassonne.
A lovely view down over the lower city and of the city of Carcassonne itself.
Visit the Bishop's Garden at Albi
Beautifully laid out, next to the Toulouse Lautrec Museum. It affords good views along the river.
a Mediaeval walled city that has great charm and fantastic views. It has much to offer the visitor with its history, its sites and its good restaurants.