Things to do. Places to visit.
In (our) little nutshell for you
Here are a few tips on the lovely yet relatively untouched region of the Southwest France. If you only find some extra time, we highly recommend taking a few days to explore and discover beyond The Happy Hamlet. It is good to understand from a geographic / administrative perspective, that even if we’re located in the Tarn et Garonne department, we’re in the crossroads of several of them which is why our tips can take you to a neighboring department without meaning that it is far away at all (or if it is, then we still think it’s worth the drive).
To get started and oriented on the map, have a look at our pages “region” and “gallery” (tab “region”) for some ambiance. Then, have a look at the various options we find worth the visit – some really close by, some maybe a further drive away, but all in all, each one recommended.
- Bordeaux http://bordeaux-tourism.co.uk
- Toulouse http://toulouse-visit.com
- Albi http://albi-tourisme.fr/en
- Montauban http://montauban-tourisme.com/en
- Carcassonne http://tourism-carcassonne.co.uk
- Lauzerte http://france-voyage.com/tourism/lauzerte-1657.htm (official site in French: http://quercy-sud-ouest.com/fr/decouvrir/la-cite-medievale-de-lauzerte)
- Auvillar http://auvillar.net/english/index.php
- St Cirq Lapopie http://tourisme-lot.com/en/the-must-sees/great-sites-in-occitanie/saint-cirq-lapopie-a-heart-stopping-village and http://saint-cirqlapopie.co.uk with Peche Merle caves and Causses du Quercy Regional National Park
- Rocamadour http://tourisme-lot.com/en/the-must-sees/great-sites-in-occitanie/rocamadourthe-vertical-village and Gouffre de Padirac cave and underground river http://gouffre-de-padirac.com/en
- St Antonin Noble Val http://tourisme-saint-antonin-noble-val.com/en
- Cordes-sur-Ciel http://cordessurciel.fr/en
We do get even more locally produced wine than the Cahors appellation, but we do like to call that one ours – maybe it is for the reason that it is the only French Malbec producer region, or just because it jus is so good. Nevertheless, since in France, you won’t be short of options when it comes to wines! Have a look at the map of the SW appellations and then just make the hard decision: where to start (and how to cover them all)?
Here are a few producers recommended for visits (find them on this map):
- Cahors: Chateau St. Sernin, our friends Anne & Jean-Michel make some fine Malbecs not so far from the Hamlet – our regular go to place with our guests! http://chateau-st-sernin.com/en
- Cahors: Chateau Lagrezette, if you’re into more fancy selection, this is vineyard owned by the former president of Cartier, is where the most expensive Cahors wine comes from (also affordable wines in their cellar though) http://chateau-lagrezette.com
- Cahors: Chateau du Cedre, make a nice stop and interesting visit at this organic producer, who’s wines we enjoy very much! http://chateauducedre.com/?lang=en
- Bordeaux: Chateau Carsin, owned by a Finn Juha Berglund and his family, not far from Bordeaux itself http://carsin.com
- Bergerac: Chateau Monbazillac http://chateau-monbazillac.com/en
- Gaillac: Chateau de Mayragues (bio): http://chateau-de-mayragues.jimdo.com/english
- Cotes de Duras: Mouthes le Bihan (bio) http://mouthes-le-bihan.fr
- Cotes de Gascogne: Domaine Herrebouc (bio) http://herrebouc.fr
- Fronton: Chateau Caze http://chateaucaze.com
- Sidenote: and if/when in Bordeaux, you may want to visit the “La Cité du Vin” – a wine enthusiast’s paradise, http://laciteduvin.com/en.
Activities: Please see THE MAP (the descriptions are in Finnish for now, sorry, but it’s still handy for anyone for the locations and names of the service providers). A lot of fun outdoors activities such as climbing, canoeing, speleo, via corda, etc. etc. And all in the most stunning surroundings!
Beaches, beach towns
- Archachon http://arcachon.com/en/index.html
- Biarritz http://tourisme.biarritz.fr/en/beaches-biarritz and http://the-french-atlantic-coast.com/2016/05/31/biarritz-beaches-a-guide-to-the-best-ones
- Perpignan http://golanguedoc.com/best-south-france-beaches/best-beaches-near-perpignan-france.html (in French: http://lindependant.fr/2014/08/05/le-top-5-des-plages-de-la-region-de-perpignan,1915150.php)
- La Rochelle http://the-french-atlantic-coast.com/2016/04/27/la-rochelle-tourist-attractions-and-things-to-do-in-this-historic-town
- Calanques de Marseille (not exactly SW, but worth a visit!) http://theculturetrip.com/europe/france/articles/an-essential-guide-to-les-calanques-provences-natural-wonder and (in French) http://madeinmarseille.net/4885-calanques-acces-facile-top
For the most detailed and updated information, we highly recommend checking out the departments’ tourism sites which are really handy to have bookmarked even once on the road. For an overview, here’s a map of all the departments as well: http://map-france.com/departments.
Ours + the ones surrounding us:
- Tarn et Garonne http://tourisme-tarnetgaronne.fr/
- Tarn http://tourisme-tarn.com/uk
- Lot http://tourisme-lot.com/en
- Lot et Garonne http://guide-du-lot-et-garonne.com/en/tourism/discover/the-lot-et-garonne.html
- Haute Garonne http://hautegaronnetourisme.com/en
- Gers http://holidays-gers.com
This is just a scratch on the surface of places to visit in the Southwest, even for us there’s always something new to discover and we’ll be sure to update the information as we explore more. Hope you enjoy the region as much as we do!