When invited to visit a city in the clouds in the Tarn department of Midi-Pyrénées, it was as if my childhood fantasies were revisited – a medieval stronghold or bastide so high up, on occasion, it is hidden from view among the clouds hence its name, Cordes-sur-Ciel.
Entrance is through a portcullis and just inside, above a door, you can still see the illustrated signs for artisans & their trades – many people didn’t read in 12th century and relied on pictorial clues.
It is when you walk up the hill to the summit however that the medieval nature of this stronghold is most in evidence (there are five lines of defence to negotiate) … and the views near the summit are just breathtaking.
Every summer, the town celebrates its heritage with a medieval festival and to get you into the right spirit, you can even eat like they did in the Middle Ages at L’Escuelle des Chevaliers. Little tip – If you come to the festival in costume, you receive free entrance.
We drank mead and dined on a beef stew served in a bread basket – quite delicious. no forks were in evidence – apparently in days of yore, you made do with just a spoon and a knife.
There is a vibrant arts and crafts scene in Cordes-sur-Ciel and we were warmly welcomed by talented textile artist, Rowena Maybourne, who showed us around her renovated home and her studio.
Then it’s back down the winding narrow streets of this hillside garrison, stumbling over the cobbles, to the entrance again. A wonderful little town and well worth a visit.
Contributor and Photographer: Sue Lowry
The Tarn is part of the CRT Midi-Pyrénées which is a client of Magellan PR. Follow them on Twitter – @tourismemidipy and Facebook: Tourisme-en-Midi-Pyrénées. The Tarn is also on Twitter – @TourismeTarn and on Facebook: tarntourisme.sudouest
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