Our five favorite trips, we are more than happy to share them with you
1. Najac in the Aveyron
Of course the village where we live in, Najac, one of the 159 plus beaux villages in France. In the summer, Various events worth visiting are organized in our picturesque village. For example mid July an mid August a large open air Brocante market fills the place du Faubourg with the stone or half-timbered houses from the 15th and 16th centuries . For the foodies among us, there are ‘Les marchés nocturnes’, where you can sit at long tables and eat all the specialties of the Aveyron. Another extra ordinary event is when the Middle Ages come to life in April and in summer in Najac.
Distance: Although we live in Najac, it is still about 5 km to the center of Najac. Travel time: 5 minutes by car, 1 hour on foot.
2. Belcastel in the Aveyron
Another plus beaux village for having a lovely, romantic picnic at the river l’Aveyron overlooking the beautiful fully rebuilt castle is Belcastel. The castle is not only worth a visit because of the building, the art exhibitions that are organized in the castle are also very interesting. For an extensive culinary lunch in Belcastel you can visit the restaurant du Vieux Pont. The chefs are both Aveyronese and Michelin has rated their food with one star. Reservations are recommended.
Distance: 60km. Travel time: 1 hour by car
3. Saint Antonin Noble Val in de Tarn-et-Garonne
This is one of those typical French towns that immediately makes you feel on a French romantic holiday. Saint Antonin Noble Val has a beautiful bastide square where a large market is held on Sundays, where they sell lots of organic products and French delicacies. Two of our favorite restaurants are in Saint Antonin de Noble Val. On the page with our favorite restaurants you will find more information about these restaurants and our other restaurant tips.
Distance: 30km. Travel time: 30 minutes by car, 1.5 to 2 hours by bike
4. Cordes sur Ciel in the Tarn
Sometimes early in the morning from the garden of La Forêt Souriante you can see the village of Najac shrouded in fog with the castle clearly visible above the clouds. We still think it is one of the breathtaking moments at our place. Cordes sur Ciel, floating on top of the sky, owes its name to this special phenomenon. The medieval heart of this place is situated high up. It is quite a climb up through the cobbled pedestrian streets with nice shops and galleries. But it’s definitely worth it. The view is beautiful, you can visit the modern art museum and there are a number of cozy terraces. You can see Cordes sur Ciel beautifully when you drive from La Forêt Souriante to the town. You have an even better view of Cordes sur Ciel if you drive back to Najac from Gaillac after a route along the oldest vineyards in France. Le jardin des Paradis is highly recommended for garden enthusiasts, they also have a nice terrace here.
Distance: 25 km. Travel time: 30 minutes by car, 1.5 to 2 hours by bike
5. Saint Cirq Lapopie in de Lot
A beautiful drive through varied countryside leads to another very popular plus beau village in the Lot: Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Spectacularly built on a rock, the village attracts thousands of tourists every year who come to admire this special place. In our opinion there are a bit too many tourists in August, but in August we also like to be in the area of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, where a surprising contemporary art route is organized from Cajarc. This route is also very worthwhile for the non-art lover because of the special places where this route along the Lot leads you. A boat trip on the Lot along Saint Cirq Lapopie is always a good idea. Reservations are recommended for this.
Distance: 45km. Travel time: 50 minutes by car.
We don’t have many large cities in the area, that is why the surroundings of La Forêt Souriante are so wonderfully peaceful. But if you, just like us, like beautiful cities and good museums, then the capitals of 4 departments are easily accessible and definitely worth a visit. The travel time from La Forêt Soriante to Rodez (Aveyron), Montauban (Tarn et Garonne) and Cahors (Lot) respectively is over an hour by car. Don’t expect highways because there are none here, instead you drive on mostly quiet 80/90 kilometers roads through an attractive, varied landscape. Our favorite city, Albi, capital of the Tarn is the closest to La Forêt Souriante: 50 minutes by car. Montauban has its beautiful recently converted Ingres Bourdelle museum, Rodez the modern Soulages museum and Cahors the romantic Les jardins Secret. But Albi has the beautiful brick Cathedral with the adjacent Toulouse Lautrec museum in the Bishop’s Palace, also built entirely of brick, and a contemporary art center. There are many fine places in Albi for lunch, dinner or pizza. But when we are in Albi, we almost always have a lovely tea with cake at Au Moulin à café. They serve very tasty homemade cakes and many kinds of tea in a stylish art nouveau tearoom.