Le Petit Canard is a great base for exploring many splendid bastide villages and historical towns (many of which are part of the Plus Beaux Villages de France) such as Cordes sur Ciel, Najac, Monestiés, Brousse le Château and Sauveterre de Rouergue - all perfect for a relaxing day out discovering what this stunning area has to offer - we are centrally located for these so stay a while and north, south, east or west you will soon discover these charming french villages to explore.
Brousse le Chateau
Plus Beaux Villages de France, a very beautiful and interesting place to visit with lots to discover. To begin cross the 1366 "crouput" bridge and take the cobbled path to the castle kiosk, then on to the entrance carved into the rock. See the 16th century towers, dungeon, guard room, a medieval oven and much more.
Just 20 minutes away is the beautiful city of Albi - designated a UNESCO World Heritage site having the Toulouse-Lautrec museum and the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Saint Cécile with stunning colourful frescoes inside, and the fascinating mural of The Last Judgement - considered one of the most important works of art of the late middle ages. Albi has a great range of shops, bistro's and quality restaurants, excellent markets selling regional produce and wares. There are various festivals, carnivals and enthusiast events through the year to entertain you and even a grand prix!
Lautrec is well known for being the home of the family of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec (the painter himself was born in Albi) and Lautrec is also renowned for the pink garlic (l'ail rose) produced in the surrounding region and showcased on the first friday in August at the village fair. There is also a delightful 17th century windmill you can visit and see the workings inside where they used to mill flour here - clearly seen on the hill as you enter the village.
A picture postcard village of beautiful stone houses rising from the vertiginous rock cliffs next to the river. The village has a chapel with a small artwork exhibition, a very photogenic stone bridge crossing the river, a forge museum and a restored castle dating from the 11th century - including a square dungeon and corner towers and a drawbridge that you cross to enter the castle.
A very well known member of the Plus Beaux Villages de France Conques is a medieval village on the Saint Jacques pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. There are stone and timber houses with stunning slate roofs and stone features, cobbled streets, an abbey-church with a stone carving of the last judgement above the doorway, a monestry with monks in residence to great the pilgrims, restaurants and artisan shops.
Canyon de Bozouls
Canyon de Bozouls is a wonderful place to visit for a great walk - It is a natural horse shaped canyon gouged deep into the solid limestone plateau of the Cause Comtal. An astonishing 400m in diameter and 100m deep - it is a result of millions of years of erosion by the river Dourdou. It has the 12th Century romanesque church of Saint Fauste perched in the middle with the village built on the edges of the canyon, a choice of marked walks of 2km, 4km or 6km (1-2hrs) that take you through the canyon with lots of view points as you walk, two medieval towers, a botanical path, footbridges a medieval washing place and a waterfall. The small village has shops, restaurants and toilets.
You could combine your visit to the canyon with a visit to Estaing and Espalion - also catorgorised Pleux Beaux.
Saint Cirq Lapopie
Perched on a cliff overlooking the river Lot this stunning medieval village is a site to behold. It was voted the favourite place to visit by the French in 2012 and is a listed site with 13 historic monuments. Stone houses with brown tiled roofs surround the fortified church, there are arcades, staircases, fortified doorways and a castle ruin. The village has much to see with artist studios, galleries, woodturning workshops, artisan shops and many restaurants and stunning views. It may also be possible to take a boat trip along the river for another unique view of this beautiful village.
Jardins des Martels
A beautiful series of 5 gardens, set in 3.5 hectares, including a 100ft canal with multicoloured boarders, an exotic greenhouse populated by tropical water lilies and daturae set in a jungle, a rainbow garden, a mini farm of 150 various animals, terraces and water cascades flowing into lotus plant ponds, a bali temple, a bamboo labyrinthe, a fish pond with turtles, a rose garden and a plant nursery. The gardens hold many events throughout the year including an easter egg hunt, a live jazz music event, and a lotus festival. Visit their website to see information and photos of the gardens.
Feel like relaxing by a lake or a small beach
After seeing the many historic villages why not cool off in the water, take a pedloe or canoe or kayak and relax on these lovely stretches of water. They both have a small beach and lovely walks and cycle paths. A perfect place for a picnic or just somewhere to visit and unwind.
Don't forget some time to relax in the garden - maybe read a book, take a dip in the pool or relax in the jacuzzi!!
Further afield for a grand day out!
If you are staying a while and fancy exploring a little further there is even more to visit!
Built on the site of a shrine to a Madonna, the shrine became famous for its healing powers, and soon became a stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Campostela. Set in the cliffs on successive levels, 120m in length this stunning site is well worth a trip out to see. In fact in the 12th century pilgrims crossed the whole of Europe to come and pray here climbing 216 steps on their knees to reach the little square of 8 churches and chapels clinging to the cliffs. It is a fascinating site to see and these days made much easier by the little venicular to take you up and down the cliff should you choose to avoid the steps! The Notre-Dame chapel (Lady Chapel) houses the Black Virgin - a slim elongated silhouette in black wood - this statue of the Black Madonna was the main draw for the pilgrims. In the same chapel is the miraculous bell reputed to ring when a miracle occurs at sea and a sailors life is saved. Famous pilgrims who have journeyed to Rocamadour include Henri II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Louis IX of France, Charles IV of France and Louis XI of France. You can also visit the ramparts of the chateau where you will see a lovely panarama of the village and the lush green valley.
MILLAU BRIDGE AND TARN GORGES
The Tarn gorges – huge valleys with stunning scenery of rock cliffs and valleys to take your breath away. You might also wish to visit the outstanding Millau Bridge – the tallest bridge in the world, designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux, spanning huge gorges. These gorges are so stunning it is worth a day out by car to see this part of the beautiful Tarn region!