We are probably a little biased, but Saint Antonin Noble Val is the perfect location for a relaxing visit to the Southwest France combining activity in and around the town as well as short picturesque drives to nearby towns and villages.
Saint Antonin Noble Val is a fabulous spot for all kinds of outdoor activity including canoeing, walking, cycling, and climbing, set under clear skies and stunning landscapes. The village itself is a delightful and well-preserved town dating back to the 14th century, with narrow quaint streets, pavement restaurants and cafes ideal for soaking up the atmosphere and re-imagining its captivating history. Its Sunday market is among the best in the region. The photogenic Gorges de l'Aveyron, is a delightful setting for a picnic lunch, a gentle stroll along the river or a drive through local villages.
If you have a little more time and want to explore beyond St Antonin, here are some of our favourites.
Just a 30-minute drive from St Antonin Noble Val, Caussade is famous for hat making dating back to the 19th century. Located in the tourist office, the hat museum is an absorbing place to spend an hour or so. It tells of the history of hat making from the first handmade straw hats, though the industrial revolution and globalisation to the present time. Of course, there is also a market, every Monday in the centre of town.
Cahors is an easy 1-hour drive from St Antonin Noble Val and as well as the large Saturday market, you can stroll over the Ponte Valentré. The UNESCO World Heritage bridge dates to the 14th century, spans 6 Gothic arches and took around 70 years to complete. According to folklore the construction was thwarted by the devil, following a broken promise between the devil and the construction foreman. Cahors is also home to the Cathedral of St. Etienne and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.
Montauban is about a 45-minute drive from St Antonin Noble Val. It has an attractive town centre, surrounded by pretty cafes and boutiques, including Galleries Lafayette. It’s a great place to shop for gifts or for just strolling around. For something more unusual, the museum of childhood is a nostalgic place full of games and toys through the ages.
About a 1-hour drive from St Antonin Noble Val, Saint Cirq-Lapopie is a picturesque village built on the side of the Lot valley. It’s a small village but worthy of a day trip to wander around the quaint village, charming shops and tiny museums. For those interested in art, the Rignault Museum is a wonderfully restored St-Cirqoise house, with a fascinating and diverse art collection and a small garden with unique views over the valley.
Villefranche-de-Rouergue, a 40-minute drive from St Antonin Noble Val, lies on the edge of the Aveyron Valley. It was founded in 1252 to build trading networks in the area and its distinctive checkerboard street layout is carefully organised to lead to the Gothic and Renaissance arcades of the main square, as well as the Notre Dame Collegiate Church. In the summer, the tourist office runs excellent English-speaking walking tours and at other times audio tours from its helpful tourist office.
Cordes sur Ciel
Cordes sur Ciel is a worthy 30-minute drive from St Antonin Noble Val. This beautiful hilltop town built to defend the Count of Toulouse’s northern territory in 1222, stands 100 metres above the surrounding countryside. Magnificently preserved and very atmospheric, it’s a lovely place to visit all year round. Stroll around the town and visit the tiny shops selling local produce and crafts made by local artisans. It’s also a great place for photography, of the village and surrounding countryside.
About an hour’s drive from St Antonin Noble Val, Albi was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 and home to the excellent Toulouse-Lautrec museum in the Palais de la Berbie and the Cathedral Sainte-Cécile. The museum houses the largest public Toulouse-Lautrec collection in the world and the perfectly manicured gardens of the Palais de la Berbie is a restful place to take a rest before exploring the Cathedral and the rest of the town. A small fashion museum close to the cathedral is a must for those interested in fashion history.
About a 45-minute drive from St Antonin Noble Val. The pretty town of Gaillac is at the heart of the Gaillac wine making region. The special taste of Gaillac wines results from hot Mediterranean weather, humidity from the Atlantic coast and warm Autan winds from East Central Africa. Just outside Gaillac, the Chateau de Mauriac is an interesting place to explore and the view from the gardens over the vineyards a reminder of the importance of wine in this region. There are lots of vineyards to visit in around Gaillac for tours and of course tastings.
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Lisa and Richard