Sidobre
[sidobre]

Sidobre
Sidobre   Le Sidobre
 

North of the Montagne Noire, in the Tarn region, lies a mysterious area which is called the Sidobre. Here we find strange stone formations such as the so called trembling stones (Roches Tremblantes). The area is so old, that the first human being who set foot on this strange landscape, thought the place was sacred. Soon, the rocks were given names.

Sidobre

Today it is a tourist attraction, complete with visitor center, walks and car roundtrips. The routes are clearly signposted.

Sidobre
  But how did this extraordinary landscape came into existence? For this we must travel back millions of years into time. About 300 million years ago molten magma produced from the rocks in fusion was trapped about 10 km below ground under a huge mountain (Heveynian Range). Eventually, the magma cooled producing a crystalline rock called Granite which is made up of 3 minerals: Mica, Quartz and Feldspar.

Then the congealed magma clump underwent intense weathering in the damp tropical climate of the Tertiary period which followed. This made the clumps crack into pieces which lied snuggly in the sediments, which enabled the rocks to lie on each other in the most strange positions. Then erosion in the later Quatrain period took the sediments away and the stones surfaced. This created the bizarre trembling stones which balance on a much smaller rock underneath.
 
The extraordinarily shaped rocks that one can see in the Sidobre, such as le Roc de l'Oie, La Peyro Clabado, Le Saut de la Truite, Les Trois Fromages etc., have been created by the constant flow of water eroding the rock. The principle industry in the area is quarrying the stone which is then used to make gravestones. Characteristic of the area are the fields of rounded boulders which lie everywhere. There are several souvenir shops which sell granite but also many other different stones which are handcrafted into nice souvenirs.

Sidobre
  When you decide to visit the Sidobre, then go to the visitor center (Maison du Sidobre) first and plan your roundtrip from the information you get there. There are some beautiful walks, e.g. the one you make at Chaos de la Balme.

Walking through the area is as if you are back in prehistory. Apart from the stone formations and landscapes, there are several lovely little towns you can visit. The area is very small, and discovering 'as you go' is also possible.

But do take refreshments with you, there are little or no facilities near most of the less crowded beaches.


Sidobre

Copyright Anneke Koremans -www.panoccitania.com
 
Albi

Albi
 
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Castres

Castres
 
The city of Castres lies in the south-west of the Tarn department in the Midi-Pyrénées. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery, the Tarn countryside being home to many lovely chateaux, with glorious sunflower-filled fields providing a perfect backdrop for these elegant houses of days gone by. Castres is built on the River Agout, and the old houses on either side lean their upper stories out over the water as though reaching out to the opposite bank. These were once the homes of the weavers and the dyers, and this connection with the textile industry is still important to Castres today. Castres is full of history, and there are reminders of its past very much in evidence in the modern city. The city was founded around a Benedictine Abbey, but also existed in Roman times as Castroum. Monuments worth seeing are the Church of Saint Benoit, the fountain and the statue in the Place Jean Jaurès, the town hall which lies in the old Bishop’s palace, and the Quay of the Jacobains, viewed from the Pont Neuf. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Goya Museum, which houses the largest collection of Spanish art in France. Castres is an excellent place to be if you are one of the many people who love the buzz and colour of French markets. The town has two daily markets, with fresh produce on offer in the main square, and a bric-a-brac or flea market in the Place Albanique. On Saturdays the general market stretches down the riverside, making a most picturesque place to shop!...
 

 


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