The beautiful department of Tarn-et-Garonne lies in the south west of France amid sun-drenched, rolling hills dotted with vineyards and dramatic river gorges eroded from the rock by the ceaseless flow of rivers; rivers that sparkle serenely in the sunlight as they cascade through the landscape. The department is one of the smallest in France in terms of population, and, compared to the other areas of the Midi-Pyrénées, of which it is a part, Tarn-et-Garonne is a sparsely-populated rural area, where traditional agriculture and natural beauty make way only for beautiful towns brimming with historic architecture and quaint hillside villages. Tarn et Garonne property for sale can be found throughout the area, in some of France’s most historic towns and within attractive medieval villages. Buying Tarn et Garonne property offers a traditional French flavour and a taste of a way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries.
History of the Tarn-et-Garonne
The department of Tarn-et-Garonne was created by Napoleon in 1808, and comprises, arguably, of the best former parts of the neighbouring areas of Lot, Haute-Garonne, Lot-et-Garonne, Gers and Aveyon. It is reputed that the unusual shape of the department was formed when Napoleon simply placed his hand on the map of France, the outline of which defined the borders of the department.
Wherever Tarn et Garonne property is found, there is always a strong connection with the history of the land, offering a true window into the peaceful, relaxing way of life that is so typically French. Imagine sitting on a terrace on a warm summer’s night outside a picturesque gite, sipping a full-bodied red while looking out over the very vineyards where it was produced, the table laden with fresh bread from the boulangerie, and cheeses produced from the livestock that graze the hillsides. Tarn et Garonne property for sale allows this picturesque dream to become a reality in this almost forgotten area of France.
Of course, with good food and even better wine being so integral to the French lifestyle, the area offers a great variety of restaurants, from picturesque village bistros to gourmet restaurants with Michelin stars. The region is one of France's biggest producers of fruit, and local specialities include garlic, goat’s cheese and truffles. These local delicacies are often a main constituent of the fare on offer in the local eateries, but can also be found in the many traditional markets and fetes held in the local towns and villages. Wine too is very important to the French, and the main wine growing areas can be found in Cahors and de Quercy. Many of the vineyards surrounding Tarn et Garonne property for sale offer tastings and tours, and wine festivals, such as the annual festival at the village of Auvillar, are a regular occurrence which offer a fabulous opportunity to try some of the region’s best vintages. Many of the local wines are award winning, such as those of the Côteaux du Quercy, which have been awarded AOVDQS status (Appellation d'origine vin délimité de qualité supérieure) in recognition of their quality. The red and rosé wines of the Côtes du Brulhois are also highly recommended.
Due to its abundance of natural beauty, Tarn et Garonne property makes an excellent base for walking and hiking along the many well-maintained routes that take in the best scenery in the area. In fact, the whole area has been recognised by the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (the national walker’s association). Perhaps the most recommended of the many hiking trails in the area is the ancient pilgrim’s route, which crosses the department to Santiago de Compostela, taking in some of the best scenery and most important historic buildings en route. Along the way, walkers can expect to see an abundance of wildlife ranging from the striking golden oriole, to exotic looking tree frogs. To travel further afield from the chosen Tarn et Garonne property for sale, mountain bikes and horses can be hired locally, and there are specialist routes throughout the countryside for pony trekking and cycling. To view the countryside at speed, two-seater quad bikes can even be hired near Montauban.
The three beautiful rivers that run through Tarn-et-Garonne allow the opportunity to buy spectacular waterfront property for sale, as well offering a great variety of watersports. Canoes and kayaks can be hired on the Aveyron and Garonne rivers and the watersports centre at St Nicolas de la Grave offers a sailing school with a variety of rivercrafts for hire. Permits for fishing can be obtained from angling stores and tourist offices. In addition, Tarn et Garonne property for sale can be found bordering the many lakes in the area, most of which offer watersports, pedalo hire and opportunities for bathing amongst spectacular natural scenery.
There are many towns and villages throughout the department that offer Tarn et Garonne property for sale, with a choice to suit every buyer. Opportunities range from town centre apartments in the bustling city of Montauban to traditional French gites situated deep in the picturesque landscapes.
Towns in the Tarn-et-Garonne
Montauban, the capital of the department, perhaps has the widest range of Tarn et Garonne property for sale. The town, founded in 1144, is known as the ‘pinkest of pink towns’ as almost all the buildings, and, of course, its property for sale, are built of the famous red Toulouse stone which seems to radiate a rainbow of rose and pink hues, especially at sunset. The town literally bursts with beautiful architecture, such as the 13th century church of Saint-Jacques, the 14th century Pont Vieux bridge and the 17th century Episcopal palace, the latter now a museum dedicated to the life and works of the famous painter Jean Ingres. The market square, the Place Nationale, is of a spectacular brick construction, lined with arcades with vaulted ceilings containing a wealth of cafés and shops. Montauban also hosts an annual jazz festival, held in July, which attracts internationally renowned artists.
Even more historic is the small town of Moissac, which was once an important Roman centre. The Roman cloister, with an amazing 116 pillars still remaining, is claimed to be the most beautiful in the world. Nearby is the stunning carved tympanum and the historic Abbey of St. Pierre. The abbey was founded in the 7th century and boasts a wealth of beautiful sculptures, including the bizarre statue of a three-armed Jesus.
Auvillar and Lauzerte, both of which have Tarn et Garonne property for sale, are considered two of the most beautiful villages in France. Perched high on the hillside, property for sale in these villages is a rare treat, offering spectacular views across the countryside. Many of Lauzerte's medieval buildings have been lovingly restored and the village holds a weekly market on Saturday mornings. Auvillar also boasts some amazing historic buildings, including three ancient doorways, a 17th century clock tower and a beautiful 12th century church.
Some of the other main locations with Tarn et Garonne property for sale include Montpezat-de-Quercy, with its 14th century medieval gate; Bruniquel, which overlooks the Aveyron and Vère rivers, and features, amid the medieval houses, an imposing, yet beautiful, ancient fortress and 6th century château; Montricoux, a typically picturesque medieval town, with a 13th century dungeon; and St. Antonin, which boasts the oldest hotel de ville (town hall) in France, built in 1125. This amazing structure is now a museum, housing an extensive collection of local prehistoric artefacts. The spectacular position of this attractive town beneath the towering white cliffs of Anglars Rock and between the Ayeron and Bonnette rivers gives rise to the full title of this town being St. Antonin Noble Val, meaning the ‘Noble Valley’.
With its spectacular open countryside and traditional rural feel, Tarn et Garonne is the prefect location to buy property for sale. With the non-intensive farming practices and traditional rural events, such as the annual marché au gras in the riverside town of Castelsarrasin, where geese are herded through the streets, you would think Tarn et Garonne property for sale exists in a remote location far from the 21st century. However, the area is not at all isolated, and has good links to the rest of France, Europe and the UK. Flights to nearby Toulouse and Agen are regular, and both the Pyrenees and the coast are within driving distance via the well-maintained open roads and Autoroutes that connect around Montauban. Of course, as with the whole of France, the rail system is extensive, regular and efficient.
When buying Tarn et Garonne property for sale, a good rule is that generally, the higher the altitude the lower the price. Despite the spectacular views from the medieval hillside villages, many buyers prefer the bustle of a lively town, of which Tarn-et-Garonne also has many with property for sale. Prices can vary enormously within the region, but all offer a great investment opportunity due to the large amount of land and accommodation that generally comes with Tarn et Garonne property for sale, as well as the chance to buy into one of the last remaining areas that are packed with charm and traditional French lifestyle. With frequent traditional fetes and fairs held year round due to the beautiful sunny climate and a wide selection of property for sale from modern apartments to medieval townhouse and countryside gites, Tarn et Garonne really does have something to offer all tastes.