Getting to know Mazamet
No matter whether your time in Mazamet is short or long, a great way to start to explore is to follow the two self-guided walks around the centre of town. Panels, like the one shown, illustrate the history of the wool industry and the magnificent architecture which resulted from the wealth generated in the town during the 19th & 20th century.
One walk commences at the Office du Tourisme, the other near to the bandstand in the Jardin des Promenades. Both take around 35 mins.
Located in the heart of Centre Ville, spilling out along the streets from the Mairie (the town hall), Markets take place on a Tuesday & Saturday morning, the largest of which on a Saturday. A smaller market takes place on a Sunday morning (just a handful of stalls) and, from November to March, the Sunday market combines with a Foie Gras market and takes place in the Halle, an indoor space close to the Office du Tourisme.
Mazamet’s markets are full of fresh, local & seasonal goods which are great for stocking up if you are self catering, or putting together a tasty picnic for a day at the lake or out exploring.
During July & August, every Monday evening, a Marché des Producteurs du Pays takes where local food & wine producers sell their wares. Come and join a table for around 200 people, soak up the fantastic French atmosphere and enjoy some of tasty food from the Tarn.
The Cathar Trail
Start your exploration in the Museum de Catharisme which is located within the Office du Tourisme. Here you will learn about this medieval religious movement, based in SW France, before you start discovering some of the historic ruins, villages & chateaux all linked to this period of history.
The village of Hautpoul sits a short drive or an hour’s walk from the centre of Mazamet. Dating back to the 6th century, what remains today are mostly from the medieval period when the Cathar’s lived in this strategic, fortified village. In 1212 the village was seized by Simon de Montfort during the Albigensian Crusades, a bloody period for this part of France.
During the summer months you can discover the restored Medieval Garden, have lunch or dinner at the Taverne d’Hautpoul and visit the artistan’s shop selling locally made pottery & crafts. On certain dates, the Office de Tourisme organised guided walks by torchlight and the village also holds a Fete Medieval which takes place in August.
Opened in the autumn of 2018, this suspended bridge sits 70 metres above the Arnette valley, stretching 140 metres between Hautpoul & ruins of the 14th century Saint Saveur church. You can access the Passerelle by either parking above the village of Hautpoul or in the designated parking area.
For a longer walk, you can park in the centre of Mazamet close to the Office du Tourisme (or walk from your accommodation) and followed the guided Fil de l’Eau which is a walk of about 90 mins following the river Arnette into the foothills on the Montagne Noire (Note: access to the Passerelle involves a steep climb and you should be moderately fit to undertake the route; wear walking shoes/boots and take water with you, especially during the warmer summer months).
The Lac de Montagnes
Located a 10 min drive (during July & August a free shuttle bus from the bus station in Mazamet)… or for the very active, a 2 hr 30 min walk. At the Lac des Montagnes, you will find a number of activities & businesses including Lac’cro Park, Mini-Golf; Swimming as well as the restaurant Le Chalet du Lac and the snack bar Le Choupa
With a safe beach, changing & shower facilities, BBQ areas, is a fantastic free area for locals & visitors to enjoy year-round. It is also the starting point of a number of walks from 5 to 55km.
Walking into the beautiful forested foothills of the Montagne Noire is literally on the doorstep of Mazamet and linking into the GR (Grande Randonnée) routes. In addition to the Fil de L’eau walking route, a walk from the old village of Aussillon will take you to the Lacs des Montages or you can drive & park at the lake and then use it as a base to undertake guided walks from 5 – 5.5km.
For the serious walkers, the GR Routes in both the Montagne Noire and neighbouring Monts de Lacune can be discovered. The Office de Tourisme website have details on on a number of local walks with downloadable maps & directions. There is also the opportunity to use the services of experienced local guides to organise a day’s waking in the mountains.
The roads around Mazamet are a cyclists dream. Light traffic, great assents with commanding vistas and well mapped routes are all available from the Office du Tourisme. You can also buy a pack of cycle routes for the whole department of the Tarn, a part of a wider cycle initiative in the area.
Mazamet’s famous cycling son, Laurent Jalabert (Le Tour de France yellow jersey winner), holds an annual cycle race in August and Mazamet has hosted stages of Le Tour de France, most recently in 2007 and 2018, which is testament to the great cycling on offer.
For those seeking routes on the level, a 65km cycle track has been created from a disused railway line which commences at Mazamet’s railway station and passes through beautiful scenery & villages along the way. A map, giving distances, durations & places of interest, can be found at the website for the Office de Tourisme.
Mazamet’s La Barouge golf club has a stunning setting with the Montagne Noire as a backdrop. The 18 hole course is beautifully maintained and voted one of the top 50 courses in France.
Visitors are welcomed and both clubs & buggies are available to hire. The clubhouse’s “Restaurant du Golf” has a great terrace & commanding views over the 18th and mountains beyond.
Shops in Mazamet and the surrounding communities, like in much of France, open from Tuesday through Saturday (9am – Noon & 2pm – 6pm). You can visit the section of Bienvenue a Mazamet designated to shopping with details of more than 50 shops.
There are hundreds of free parking spaces in and around town, close to the shops & restaurants. On entering Mazamet, simply follow the well-signed parking areas.
If you are searching for leather goods, from handbags to jackets, a number of leather shops are located in the La Richarde area of Mazamet. There is designated parking in this suburb, or you can walk along the Voie Vert (cycle path) in around 15 mins from the railway station in Mazamet.