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But what is there to do in Cordes-sur-Ciel? You might ask yourself this as you imagine a trip to the south of France. We have also asked ourselves the question, before we visited, not knowing the region well. Through inquiring, we learned that the place was well worth a detour to visit. This charming village is located in the Tarn, about twenty minutes’ drive from Albi and just under an hour from Toulouse by car. It is a locality that conceals many surprises, in a setting as warm as you would expect from the region. Stroll through the medieval streets, mountain bike, take trip in a hot-air balloon, or visit the very famous Gaillac vineyards: you can see that you will not have the time to be bored. Come on, let’s take you to Cordes-sur-Ciel!
Still in the South… Do not miss our top 10 of most stunning, unmissable towns and villages to visit in Provence.
🗒️ What you need to know before your trip to Cordes-sur-Ciel
Before starting our list of must-sees in Cordes-sur-Ciel, here are some tips for your next trip.
Where is the city of Cordes-sur-Ciel (exactly)?
This charming village of barely a thousand permanent inhabitants is located in the Tarn, north-east of Toulouse, a few kilometres from Albi (map). The town is on the national road 122 and on the left bank of the Cérou, a tributary of the Aveyron.
Why does Cordes-sur-Ciel mean?
The origins of the name seem clearly to be Hispanic. At its foundation, the town bore the name of “Cordoa”. “It is possible that the Count of Toulouse named the city thus to refer to Cordou, Cordoba in Spain, famous at that time for its leather craftsmanship. But also, more generally, it was common to give new towns names alluding to towns in Christian Europe,” notes the newspaper, Le Tarn Libre. The addition of “sur-ciel” would come from the poet Jeanne Ramel Cals, due to the fact that the city sometimes overlooks the clouds, and was formalized in 1993.
Which hotel should you choose in Cordes-sur-Ciel?
What is good about Cordes-sur-Ciel is that its hotels match the charm of its streets. We could recommend many establishments in the region, but here are three that caught our attention and are located in the city.
First, one of the most popular: La Maison au Puits. Here is a hotel that knows how to marry authenticity, especially in the common areas and outdoors, and modernity, as far as the rooms are concerned. Perfect for a hassle-free stay nestled in the heart of the medieval city. The meals are also good and portions generous.
Another establishment to consider is the Hotel Raymond VII. Situated in a beautiful period building with a very pleasant little courtyard, this hotel offers all the necessary comfort for the perfect holiday with the bonus of a superb view of the surrounding valley. Many customers also praise the good food that is on offer there.
Finally, to read about our third establishment, the Escuelle des Chevaliers which also serves as a restaurant, read on.
🔝 The 8 essential things to do in Cordes-sur-Ciel
There is no shortage of things to see in Cordes-sur-Ciel, so to save time here are our eight essentials.
Stroll through the medieval streets
This is impossible to miss! Enjoy the view while strolling along the medieval cobbled streets of Cordes-sur-Ciel. On the way, there is a good chance that you will find a nice souvenir in one of the local shops that line the alleys, selling, among other things, handcrafts, paintings, and jewellery, such as at Chris Dupuy Joly, a specialist ceramics shop. Let yourself be charmed by the slew of Gothic houses in the town centre and admire the fortified gates and large period vaults!
Stroll through the Garden of Paradise
Once you have visited, you will understand why it bears this name. The Garden of Paradise is a private garden located on Place du Théron. This immense green space is over twenty years old. Over the years, a multitude of species have been added to the collection, making the place exotic and colourful. It boasts a fountain like no other, placed on a staircase, Koi carp in a period washhouse, ponds housing water lilies, aquatic plants, and many other specimens. The atmosphere is fresh and relaxing – truly a taste of paradise!
Awaken your appetite at the Museum of Sugar and Chocolate Arts
A name to arouse the curiosity and make the mouth water. The Museum of Arts and Chocolate (official site) features a permanent exhibition of different masterpieces composed of sugar and chocolate. They were made by the talented Yves Thuriès and other professionals, all crowned Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. During the visit, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the career of this great chocolate maker, Mr Thuriès. However, they save the best for last: each visit ends with a free tasting.
Explore the Saint Michael’s church
Whether you’re a believer or not, you won’t want to pass by Saint Michael’s Church without taking a look inside. Inside and out, this building, classified as a Historic Monument in 1922, conceals magnificent ornaments. From furniture to period stained glass, the chapels of the Saint-Michel church are impeccably decorated. This building remains open to visitors, and with luck, you can even attend a guided tour.
Fill your stomach at the Escuelle des Chevaliers
Need to take a break? Are you looking for a good meal, or a bed for the night? Don’t look any further. Like the rest of the town, L’Escuelle des Chevaliers (official site) is a medieval-style inn dating from the 14th century. Old but still charming and well-maintained, this building is full of stories.
L’Escuelle des Chevaliers | 87 Grand rue Raimond VII, Cordes-sur-Ciel,
Discover the Carjac Mill
The Carjac Mill is no ordinary mill. Located a few steps from Cordes-sur-Ciel, it is the perfect place to take a deep breath. The icing on the cake? You can even stay in this idyllic setting. The place is provided with all the necessary comfort, including musical instruments there. Imagine playing a little tune accompanied by the chirping of birds…
Take a break at the medieval halls
Originally, these halls housed strong commercial activities. A treasured historic site, they have greatly contributed to the dynamism of Cordes-sur-Ciel. Nowadays, they are the ideal place to take a short break and enjoy refreshments, especially in summer.
End your day well at the Manufacture Gourmande
This is a charming restaurant with superb views over the surrounding valley. The menu is always rich and varied, with a famous house specialty: crunchy almonds from Cordes. Take advantage of the tranquillity that reigns over the area to savour your meal in peace. Everything is conducive to a good time, alone or in company.
Manufacture gourmande | 3 rue Fontournies, Cordes-sur-Ciel
There you have it, our selection of the best things to do in Cordes-sur-Ciel is complete. However, if you have other suggestions, do not hesitate to let us know in the comments.