The Tarn is a region of France that is rich in both history and culture, demonstrated by the large variety of museums it has to offer. One of the most famous museums in the area, as mentioned in our blog post in April, is the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi (35 minutes from La Durantie), home to the largest collection of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. The museum has a new exhibition running up until the 3rd January, exhibiting some of the best photographs of Marilyn Monroe by the famous photographer Bert Stern.
Albi has also recently opened a fashion museum, Musée de la Mode, home to a private collection of clothes and accessories covering the period from the 18th century through to the 1970s. Each annual exhibition is selected to highlight a particular historical or creative theme, this year’s theme being black and white, ‘Noir sur Blanc’. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from the 1st April to December 28th: 9.30am-12am and 2pm-6pm. The museum is set in a beautiful historical building with many architectural elements dating back to the 12th century such as a spiral staircase and splendid vault.
The region’s interesting history dates back to The Albigensian Crusade or Cathar Crusade (1209-1229), a 20 year long military campaign led by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism. During this crusade, the Cathars conquered many of the splendid fortifications and castles that are a major attraction in the area today, such as the beautiful fortified towns of Puycelsi(12 minutes from La Durantie).
The Musée du Catharisme in Mazamet (about an hour from La Durantie), in the heart of the Montagne Noir and the Cathar region, provides an in-depth portrayal of the Cathar tragedy. The museum is located on the second floor of the Office du Tourisme in a beautiful 19th century mansion, on Rue des casernes. The museum is open from 10:00 am-05:00 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays throughout October, and closed for two hours over lunch between 12 and 2. Whilst you’re there make sure to visit the nearby village of Hautpoul, and see the remains of the castle that was besieged by Simon de Montfort during the Cathar crusade.
Château de Mauriac (25 minutes from La Durantie) is a breathtaking Templar castle, classed as one of the 50most beautiful buildings in France for art and decor and with a 1 Michelin star rating. Located in Senouillac, between Albi and Cordes-sur-ciel, the castle is a very short distance from la Durantie. Take a stroll around the beautiful grounds and marvel at the stunning art work inside. The château is open every day for visitors over the summer period (unless stated otherwise), from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm. An adult ticket costs 7 euros, and a child ticket costs 4 Euros.
The town of Gaillac, only 15 minutes from la Durantie, has 3 different museums to offer, Musée de l’Abbaye, Musée des Beaux-Arts and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. On the first three Thursdays of each month the museums offer a pause café, pause musée system from 12.45pm to 2pm for €2.50. It is a quick and cheap option with a guided tour of the museum of your choice followed by a cup of coffee. Musée de l’Abbaye focuses on the history of wine growing and production in the area, whilst Musée des Beaux-Arts portrays the works of some famous painters from the area, including Jules Cavalliès and Raymond Tournon.
As you can see, the Tarn certainly has a lot to offer when it comes to museums. Make sure to follow us on twitter @ChateauDurantie and on pinterest for more suggestions of interesting things to do in the area.