Sunday, 14 October 2012

Just North

The weather forecast was wet and cold, but we awoke to a beautiful clear blue crisp sky. So we put away our plans to go to the Space Museum, and decided to head just north of Toulouse to a city called Montauban.

We have driven past Montauban on the Toll Road at 130 kph and thought that it looked pretty ordinary apart from the Cathedral that every town seems to have sticking up above the rest of the buildings. It is not a town that you hear about or that people tell you, you must go and see it. But as we drove in to the town we were guided (by Ken the GPS) down along the river. It looked lovely and we were sure that we would find somewhere to eat out sandwiches that we had made. The car park that Ken took us to was full, so I turned Ken off and headed back towards the river, on the way we spotted a car park next to a play ground - perfect!

After lunch at the playground, we headed back the way we came to have a look at the Market. It was a lovely market and not too crowded with lots of fresh produce and clothing. The Market was big, but was winding down. Common sense dictated that we should go straight ahead to the square that we passed in the car. So we ignored common sense and dove into the narrow busy streets not knowing where we were going or where we will end up. The guide book said that all roads lead to the old square - and they were right. Through an archway we popped through to a delightful square full of people sitting out enjoying lunch at one of the may restaurants.

We kept on walking promising the kids that we would come back to get an ice cream as it was closed for lunch. We walked past an old church built in 1230AD and found another play ground. A gap between the buildings revealed a lovely old bridge spanning the River Tarn. The view from the bridge was spectacular overlooking other bridges with yet another old Church rising above the adjacent buildings. that were right on the waters edge.

If there could be one improvement in the towns that we have visited so far, it would be public restrooms. They are very few between and those that are around are well hidden. We made our way back to the promised Ice Cream Palour, the kids using their pocket money to by themselves an ice cream.

We really had a nice time in Montauban, it was much nicer than we thought it was going to be. Inspired, we decide to head to Gaillac via Castelnau de Montmiral. On the way we turned off the main road at an intersection marked by the most amazing looking Chateau perched on top of a cliff.

This seemed to mark the start of the Post Card that we would spend the next 45 mins driving through. Rachel was taking photos as we drove, and around every corner was yet another Post Card that we could actually drive through. It was like the farmers had got together with an artist to work out how to make it look so beautiful. All the detail was there, the tress were planted it the correct position, the old farm houses were surrounded by plowed fields  the horses were coloured to make sure they didn't clash - there was even an old man wobbling around with a walking stick wearing a beret.

I had to stop at one village to take a photo as all the buildings were the same colour as the cliff that rose behind them.

On to Castelnau de Montmiral, which was situated on top of a hill with the narrow streets leading to the quaint little square. As we headed back to the car we spotted a shop that had a cafe attached, we could see through the shop, cafe and to the valley spread out beyond it. It was too tempting, so we stopped for a drink and took in the view.

Some towns have two sides to them. We approached Gaillac from its' backside! It is a city based on its produce of wine. The streets were wide (in some places trucks could pass each other!) and it seemed to be a more practicle than pretty. The prettiness started at the center of the town and continued on the other side over the bridge. As I looked in my rear view mirror, it was again like looking into a post card.


  1. Love those wonderful old bridges. You are certainly making the most of all you spare time. I'm glad Ken is mostly helpful.
    Love to all.

  2. Stunning photos and great commentary. Thanks for sharing - really enjoying your blogs. Jacqui

  3. Awesome photos - especially the reflections. Hamish was excited to see the playgrounds look the same!