The best cycling playground on earth: endless and quiet river, forest and mountain roads, ancient villages and gourmet eating
Highlights of the area
Plaisance is a small, tranquil, medieval village situated between the Tarn and the Aveyron, in South West France, approximately 1.5 hours north east of the city of Toulouse. Other nearby towns include Albi, Carcassonne, Rodez, St Affrique and Millau. The village is surrounded by endless quiet roads of indigenous forests, mountains and the magnificent river Tarn and is situated amongst large protected areas of national nature reserve under the Parc Nationel des Grands Causses. The area is ideal for visitors interested in a combination of healthy outdoor exercise, history and gourmet feasting in a friendly rural environment.
A one to two week program would include familiarizing oneself with the history of the region (particularly fascinating is the 11th and 12th century tragedy of the Cathars which still permeates many of the surrounding villages); cycling (or walking) to different medieval villages through stunning indigenous oak, chestnut and walnut forests (amongst the many villages is Brousse-Le-Chateau, classified as “One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France”); canoeing and swimming on the Tarn; and feasting on local delicacies at the numerous village markets open daily throughout the months of July and August and weekly throughout the year. Typical local produce includes charcuterie delicacies (area is highly regarded for its sausages and other meats), Roquefort cheeses (area is famous for its Roquefort cheese caves which support the largest industry in the area), Gaillac wines (red, white, rose, sparkling), every gourmet duck delicacy, brebie cheeses, jams and chutneys and most fruit and vegetables.
Other activities include canoeing and climbing at the incredible Gorge Du Tarn; the Millau bridge (highest bridge in the world); the only Roquefort cheese caves; day trips to the historic and stunning city of Albi (declared a World Heritage Site due to its famous cathedral, Palais De La Berbie and Toulouse Lautrec museum) and Cordes Sur Ciel (fortified medieval town widely considered the finest in France); dinner at Michel Bras in Laguiole; and plenty, plenty more.
Slightly further afield from Plaisance but within easy reach are attractions that include the Canto Perlic Vineyard (53 km), Domaine Sarrabelle Vineyard (56 km) and Le Musee Art du Chocolat (57 km). The road network available to cyclists around Plaisance is extensive, with 4 or 5 possible routes to any of the numerous nearby medieval villages and towns. The roads are very well maintained and perfect for either mountain or racing bikes and for the very serious or less serious, tourist cyclist. The Tour de France regularly passes close by the village of Plaisance.
The hotel Les Magnolias, located in the heart of Plaisance, is a perfect base from which to explore and enjoy the area. It is reasonably priced and offers delicious breakfasts and dinners. In the evenings the silence and the church bell are usually the only sounds you hear.
Plaisance and Surrounding Towns
Plaisance is a picturesque medieval village with a small population of only approximately 80 people. It forms part of the Department of the Aveyron in the Midi Pyrenees region of France and is surrounded by indigenous oak forests, rivers and mountains. A large portion of its mountainous forest environment is protected under the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses. The closest airports are at Toulouse (125 km), Rodez (80 km), Carcassonne (133 km) and Beziers (124 km).
Albi, Carcassonne, Cordes, Brousse-Le-Chateau and Sylvanes are some of the better known historic and beautiful nearby towns and villages. These are perfect historic daytrip destinations with good restaurants, shops and cafés in cobbled streets and with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.