With the recent announcement of a new London Stansted to Toulouse route from Ryanair, the relatively undiscovered département of The Tarn, south-west France is being placed firmly on the UK tourist map. New flight routes are an indicator of increased visitor numbers to an area and the newly formed Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées region of south west France will soon be served by three airlines from three London airports. The new flight route from Ryanair will commence in November 2016 and it will join easyjet and British Airways already serving Toulouse-Blagnac Airport daily, from London Gatwick and Heathrow respectively.
The Tarn is a lesser known département in the Midi Pyrénées around 20km east of Toulouse. The area boasts a striking landscape, home to undulating vineyards, rolling countryside, dramatic gorges and the winding Tarn River. It has a fascinating history, a rich culture and an exceptional gastronomic heritage, and yet, the area remains somewhat undiscovered.
Steeped in history, the Tarn encompasses some of France's “Grandes Sites” including the episcopal city of Albi (a UNESCO World Heriatge Site) built around the original cathedral. Albi is most famous for being the birthplace of the famous painter Henry de Toulouse Lautrec, born in Albi in 1864.
The bastide villages of Cordes-sur-ciel, built on a rocky outcrop overlooking vineyards and rolling hills, plus Puycelsi (listed among the most beautiful French villages) and Castelnau-de-Montmiral are another highlight of the area. The town of Ambialet is home to the beautiful “Loop Valley”, where the Tarn River makes a 3-kilometer circle around the town, shaping the valley into an impressive rocky peninsula.
Home to one of the oldest wine-growing regions in France, the Gaillac wine region is spread over 3,000 hectares of land and is made up of over 112 vignerons (winegrowers) producing AOP Gaillac wines. Stay amongst the vineyards at one of the many rural chateau vineyards in the area or spend the day sampling the local food and wine at one of the many weekly food markets.