Head to the Pont Vieux bridge in Montauban. Its arches have spanned the Tarn since the Middle Ages. This is where the town looks its best and shows off its orange brick architecture.
Right bank: the former bishop's palace housing the Ingres Museum, Natural History Museum, Saint-Jacques Church and former convents along the docks.
Left bank: mansions. They serve as a reminder that Montauban was home to wealthy traders despite its past as a Protestant safe zone which earned it the wrath of Louis XIII.
Montauban rebelled against Catholic authority and was besieged in 1621 by the royal army which it resisted gloriously. You can see the traces of cannonballs on Saint-Jacques Church at the bottom of the belltower!
Get the feel of Montauban at Place Nationale. Surrounded by double arcades, this splendid square with an Italian feel is still the beating heart of the town. A century before the bastide's heyday, the town was built on a checkerboard layout around this square in 1144.
The pedestrian streets around it lead you to little boutiques and food shops taking you past ornate entrances to luxury mansions teeming with architectural details that reflect Montauban's rich heritage.
The Ingres-Bourdelle museum showcases two illustrious Montalbanese: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Antoine Bourdelle.
Ingres was born in Montauban in 1780 and is a master of French Classicism. The sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, one of Rodin's students, was also born here in 1861.
Enlarged, modernized, digitalized ... the museum is today spread over 2,700 m2 with new spaces, enhanced accessibility, a new museography, a sumptuous conservation cabinet housing Ingres ' drawings, an entire floor dedicated to the Bourdelle's work, magnificent rooms for temporary exhibitions, a tea room, bookshop, ...
Vist the Saturday market in the Allées du Consul Dupuy. Stock up on local produce in the shade of the plane trees in a land bursting with apples, cherries, Chasselas de Moissac AOC grapes, Quercy melons and more.
A 20 min walk from the town centre takes you to the Canal Port, Montauban's marina: a haven of peace where locals and tourists get together to enjoy nature. Read a book under the trees, walk along the banks, have a drink as you watch the boats come and go... The Tarn on one side... and the Montech Canal on the other linking to the Canal des Deux Mers in 11km and 11 locks! A lovely bike ride (bike hire at the port) along a green path on the former towpath.
Take a guided cruise or permit-free boat trip through Ingres' town, duck under its 6 bridges then head off to experience the untamed Tarn and its biodiversity. The Tarn is teeming with fish and attracts countless bird species. Open your eyes! You may meet grey herons, egrets and kingfishers on your way.
HOW TO GET THERE
Montauban is the capital of the Tarn-et-Garonne 45km north of Toulouse.
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