Archive for Tarn et Garonne

Awaken to Saint Antonin Noble Val

Posted in French Affair, French Painters, French Travel, South of France with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I hope you’re doing really well this week. It’s been perfect chaos here with birthday celebrations (a twenty first and a twelfth) both at home- indulging with fine friends, food and late nights. I have come to understand the meaning of no truer words than that of French painter Paul Cezanne when he announced that “we live in a rainbow of chaos”.

We’ve had great times- much laughter, love and also confirmation that sometimes everything can be found within the sanctity of ones own nest or at least in the vicinity of ones own backyard.

This realisation propelled my french awakening to Saint Antonin Noble Val- a tiny town much tinier than the name of the village itself, but a village in a “noble valley” which seems to have it all.

Saint Antonin Noble Val has not much bigger than a postage stamp of inhabitants; about 16 persons per square kilometre- a far cry from the original 6000 inhabitants who lived inside its ramparts in the 16th century! Most of them were at Saint Antonin’s great bustling pub ensconced in courtyard chairs the day we arrived!

This small village (a” Green Resort”according to French Tourism) is nestled in the Tarn et Garonne department in the Midi Pyrenees region of south west France, beneath a backdrop of cliffs offering spectacular scenic views and some of the purest mineral water in France. Limestone cliffs on one side and the National Forest of Gresigne with the beautiful Aveyron River which snakes through the town on the other.

Cast your eyes across le Pont sur l’Aveyron…

Saint Antonin Noble Val has history too. Locals profess that their Bell Tower at Maison Romane is the oldest civil building in the whole of France, built sometime around the 9th century and was originally the residence of the Viscount in 1125.

Within Saint Antonin and its environs, life can be exceptional. There are over sixty different types of activities which are offered to locals and tourists alike. Music, dance, white water rafting and even sports which take full advantage of the rock formations (Roc d’Anglars) above the village. Climb the Gorges of the Aveyron or check out what some of you can do on good soaring days at:

If you’re looking for calm on the other hand, wander the winding streets lined with Medieval stone houses- streets so narrow which make driving through impossible. Have a drink or lunch in the sunny courtyard of Antonin’s pub. Visit the covered marketplace (Place de la Halle) on Sunday morning market day or take in the Museum (Musee du Vieux Antonin) to see all sorts of prehistoric artifacts.

Imagine the tranquility of paddling upstream in your hired canoe, observing others in the shadows of ancient trees at campsites- a popular choice for locals particularly during the Summer months.

If you have more time, a little further afield you can discover the beautiful grottes (caves) such as la grotte du Bosc- a cool enlightenment to escape the heat.

This tiny town is going nowhere. It’s just waiting for you to realise that it offers a passport for a rich and happy way of life.

Just like any good family.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell