Out and about
…. If you like medieval then this is the area for you. Albi, UNESCO world heritage site and home of Toulouse-Lautrec, is the jewel of the Occitanie Region and one of France’s most attractive medieval towns. Smaller but also perfectly formed, the villages of Cordes-sur-Ciel, Sauveterre du Rouergue, Najac and Conques are well worth the visit.
Only a ten-minute drive from Le Couvent, discover the charming house and gardens of Château du Bosc where the young Toulouse-Lautrec spent many happy summers. You can see lots of his early sketches and watercolours.
Like modern art? Then the Soulages Art Gallery in Rodez is the place for you.
Something more active? Walkers adore this area with its varied countryside, fabulous views and historic interest. Stay around St Just and walk up hill and down dale following the excellent signposting of easy, moderate or challenging walks. Walk further afield using the Grande Randonnée (GR) network of routes including the French section of the Route de St. Jean de Compostela accessed about 20 miles away.
Explore the local wine, cheese and produce. They are amazing! Visit the abundance of local markets and Gaillac and Marcillac vineyards for tasting heaven.
Albi - 40km
Cathedrale Sainte Cecile
Coming to Sainte-Cécile you will not fail to be impressed by its originality and beauty, by its massive architecture and exuberant interior decoration. Albi Cathedral accumulates superlatives: the largest brick cathedral in the world, the largest medieval representation of the Last Judgement in the world, the largest painted cathedral in Europe, the largest classical organ in France! The shock is aesthetic. But for this monument of faith, beauty is not an end in itself; it is also a means.
Cordes sur Ciel - 47km
Cordes sur Ciel
A medieval village and a real hotspot of European heritage! During your visit, discover a story that’s 800 years old… as you climb through the cobblestone alleys where the sculpted facades of sumptuous houses pay a worthy tribute to Gothic art, and a whole array of craft workshops and art galleries remind you that, here, art and culture come in every form.
Chateau de Najac - 52km
The medieval village, perched on a rocky ridge of exceptional length, stretches along a unique street. At one end, you can visit the imposing castle. At the bottom, meanders the river Aveyron where you can enjoy the joys of swimming or canoeing.
Chateau du Bosc - 9km
Chateau du Bosc
The CHATEAU DU BOSC, located in Camjac in Aveyron, between Albi and Rodez, is the home of the painter Henri TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. He spent much of his childhood there and, later, his summers with his family.
Sauveterre-de-Rouergue - 18km
A MERCHANTS’ BASTIDE TOWN
You will easily succumb to the charm of Sauveterre-de-Rouergue during your stroll, admiring its central place of 47 arcades and its streets dating from 1281. You will enter the village via the fortified door of Saint Christophe and you will enjoy the harmony of the timber framed and stone houses. Take a moment to look at the collegiate church and find the coat of arms and sculpted stones.
Conques - 80km
THE JEWEL OF ROMANESQUE ART
Pilgrims descended from the austere and wild Aubrac plateau towards the Lot valley and a major stop: Conques. In their thousands, they flocked to the Via Podiensis in search of their inner self.
At the end of the trail, the superb mediaeval village of Conques and its abbey-church with its splendid tympanum, which remains one of the most important centres of art and spirituality in the western world. Thanks to the relics of Sainte Foy, brought here from Agen in 883, Conques became one of the main stops on the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage route from Puy en Velay. This is still the case today, numerous walkers take to this historical trail, stopping in the heart of the village where they are welcomed by the monks.
Soulages Art Gallery - 39km
Soulages Art Gallery
A leading figure of abstract art, Pierre Soulages is the most renowned French contemporary artist in the world. With exhibits in some 90 museums, he has created more than 1,500 works of art and held countless exhibitions around the globe. Although devoted to a single artist, the museum, which showcases his donation, sees itself as a place in which to discover the techniques and mainsprings of artistic creation : Soulages’s creation of the stained glass windows in Conques forms the core.
The museum also features a vast temporary exhibition gallery designed for events of national or international scale.
As an extension of the building, the ingenious “Café Bras” is gourmet bistro designed to correspond with the work of Soulages.