Saturday 22nd April 2017 – ‘Day 4‘ of our travels.
A bit of background on Cordes-sur-Ciel:
Cordes-sur-Ciel is located in the Tarn department in the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France. It’s approximately 1 hour 15 minutes north-east of Toulouse and 30 minutes north-west of Albi.
If you’re in the region, Cordes is an absolute must, just be prepared that it’s very steep and can be very busy in high season.
Day four and we were on the move again to our next location but not without wringing every drop of sightseeing that we could in the process. Painfully aware that not only was it a Saturday and so market-day but also a blissfully sunny day, we headed into the small hilltop town of Cordes-sur-Ciel expecting to be crushed in our first French crowds. Instead, though it was undeniably busy, it was cordially so and we were easily able to drive to the very pinnacle and admire the once again glorious views before exploring the town itself.
I honestly feel that our fleeting visit did not do Cordes-sur-Ciel justice. More ‘touristy’ than the places we had seen so far, this was nonetheless very tastefully done with a greater emphasis on local crafts and artisanry than the usual grockle bait.*
Amazingly well-preserved, it was one of the larger bastide’s we were to visit and consequently there much to see and many narrow roads to explore.
Established in the early 13th century, Cordes quickly became prosperous on the back of its cloth, silk and leather trades and the stunning architecture reflects the success of its merchants. Gothic arches abound and almost everywhere you turn there are beautiful sculptural touches to the buildings in an array of differing styles.
Much of the towns surrounding walls are also intact and we would often turn a corner to see a grand and imposing gateway framing a picture-perfect view of the skies and valley beyond.
Cordes-sur-Ciel is a must see in the region and we were very lucky to see it in such glorious sunshine and relatively calm. It is noted for its crowds once the season starts in earnest.
*Grockle bait. A phrase is taken from the south of England where ‘grockle’ refers to the migratory tourists that flood into the more popular coastal towns of Devon and Cornwall the minute the sun so much as peeps out from behind a cloud. ‘Grockle bait’ therefore refers to those products and/or stores which cater almost exclusively to said, tourists. Usually overpriced, under-appointed and thoroughly scowled upon by the natives. We saw the same brand of pâtés de Foie gras being marketed as produced locally in just about every town and village we visited…
Special thanks to Amanda for her wonderful photographs and words for this post.