Mazamet’s neighbouring town, just 15 mins (by car, bus or Train), is well worth a visit. The river Agout runs through the middle of the town and provides a great focal point with medieval houses stretching into the water.
A boat trip, weekly markets, a visit to the Musee de Goya (a Spanish art museum on account of Goya’s presence in the town towards the end of his life) and a stunning topiary garden are just some of the attractions.
Another of Castres attractions is the municipal leisure park, L’ Archipel, with ice skating, indoor & outdoor swimming pools, golf and waterpark – a day-out in its own right.
An unspoilt medieval hilltop village located just 30 mins from Mazamet can be seen on route to Albi or nearby Gaillac (or combined with a trip to Castres). Lautrec is a nice place to enjoy lunch and a visit to the windmill (which still works today to mill flour on special occasions), with its stunning panorama towards the Pyrenees.
The office of tourism has a wealth of information about the village and houses an original communal bread oven as well as a model of how the fortified village would have appeared in medieval times. A small market takes place each Friday morning where, amongst other local produce, the famous pink garlic grown in the fields around Lautrec will be in abundance.
The Montagne Noire (Black Moutains), with a peak of 1,200 metres, offers an amazing variety of flora & fauna and is dotted with medieval villages, lakes & deciduous forests (it is even home to the Cabardes wine AOC). Stretching from the market town of Revel, in the east, towards the Mediterranean, the mountains contain over 190km of walking routes
The Montagne Noire can be reached within minutes of leaving Mazamet, with the foothills spilling down the meet the town itself.
Why not drive to the “Pic du Nore” for the best vista in the area, over-looking the Carcassonne plains with the snow-capped Pyrenees beyond? You can gain more information about what’s on offer in this natural playground by visiting the Montagne Noire Tourist Office.
VALLE DU THORÉ
For a relaxing scenic drive or cycle (or using the Tarn Bus), enjoy the Valle du Thoré which leads from Mazamet to the town of St. Pons de Thomieres.
With wide open pastures of crazing cattle and a number of pretty mountain villages, you can enjoy a visit to textile museum in Labastide, take a journey underground in the caves “Grotte de la Deveze” with its amazing formations and end with a visit to La Cathédrale de St Pons, which was once one of the most important churches between Montpellier & Toulouse.
The whole valley can also be discovered by bike on the traffic-free Voie Vert cycle path with the majority of the villages, eateries & attractions adjacent to the route along the way.
From the air, the village of Labruguiere is a complete “rotund” and once an important post for traders passing between Albi & Carcassonne who had to pay a fee to cross the river Agout. There are a number of well preserved buildings in the village centre and on Friday mornings a market that takes places on a number of the narrow streets.
Labruguiere can be reached by train or car from Mazamet in just mins and you can enjoy a lunch in one of the town’s restaurants before either heading onto Castres or returning to Mazamet.
20 mins north of Mazamet is France’s second largest granite reserve. The area of Sidobre sits within the Monts de Lacaune mountain range. Amongst the forests and plateaux you can discover some amazing natural rock formations carved during the last ice-age like the “Chaos” or “Napoleon’s Hat”.
The Office du Tourisme in Mazamet (as well as all other regional tourist offices) have a number of suggested itineraries of places to visit within the Tarn and you can also visit Tarn Tourisme’s website for further details.