The tiny town of Lautrec is famous for being one of plus beaux villages de France (meaning “most beautiful villages in France”).
It is nestled on top of a hill, a few miles away from the Pyrenees mountains and the Canal du Midi, one of the world’s greatest waterways. Located in the Tarn department of the region of Occitanie, the village is home to several listed historic buildings.
Only 1800 people live in this village which has been settled since Celtic and Roman times. Later, Charlemagne is believed to have stopped at Lautrec and laid the foundations for an earlier version of the imposing Collégiale Saint Rémy church that has now disappeared.
Now, you may have heard the name Lautrec before. The noble family of the Comtes de Toulouse-Lautrec have their roots in this village, their most famous descendant being the legendary French artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. (You will find a museum dedicated to him in the nearby town of Albi.)
While you won’t see much of the Toulouse-Lautrec family in the village, there is plenty more to explore in this lovely little village. So let’s get to the best things to see in Lautrec, shall we? Allons-y!
Things to see and do
1. The Village
Most of the village is pedestrianized so leave the car behind in one of the village’s parking lots and take a stroll around.
Most of the buildings have been constructed in a colombage medieval style and date back centuries. There are plenty of small boutiques and artist shops offering their wares so don’t hesitate to pick up a few souvenirs.
And be sure to pop into the Saint-Rémy de Lautrec collegiate church as well, a building that was classified as a historical monument in 1999.
2. Moulin de Lautrec (windmill)
Walking through the village, you will notice high on a hill the moulin de Lautrec, a 17th century windmill that used to be used to produce wheat.
It was actually built on the site of a 14th century windmill, and is one of the symbols of the village. There is an accessible path to the park around the windmill for strollers and wheelchairs.
At certain times of the year, you can enter the windmill for €1-2/adult to have a look inside. Either way, there are wonderful views of Lautrec and the surrounding countryside all around.
3. Calvaire de la Salette (Chemin de l’Abreuvoir)
If you want to go even higher, you can climb up to the Croix de Lautrec (meaning “Cross of Lautrec”), which is at an altitude of 328m.
Note, this part of the climb on the Chemin de l’Abreuvoir is not as handicap and stroller-friendly.
4. Pink Garlic (Ail Rose)
Lautrec is famous for its ail rose (meaning “pink garlic”), which is a protected geographical IGP designation and a Label Rouge from France.
It is a unique type of garlic found only in Lautrec and the Occitanie and has an aromatic and subtle taste. It is sweeter and milder than regular white garlic and also keeps stays fresh much longer. Pink garlic can stay fresh for a good six months, usually being harvested in June.
There is even a festival of pink garlic every year in Lautrec in early August, bringing fans and tourists of this lovely condiment flocking to the village.
5. Sunflower fields
If you visit the south of France in late July – August, you will notice the vast sunflower fields everywhere. (If you are looking for lavender fields, you have to go slightly more east.)
Cultivated in the area since the middle ages, sunflower harvests are used to make oil and exported all over the world.
Vincent van Gogh, who lived in the area in nearby Arles, was famous for painting several paintings featuring the sunflower.
But you don’t have to go to Arles to find sunflowers. Right around Lautrec you will find plenty of fields of sunflower harvests to take pictures and enjoy this wonderfully delightful plant. (Assuming you visit in the summer, that is!)
How to get to Lautrec?
Lautrec is about an hour away from Toulouse by car or TER train.
To get to Toulouse, you can take either the TGV high-speed train from Paris (4h20) or fly into its international airport.
How many days should you spend?
When is the best time to visit?
As I mentioned, there is a festival of pink garlic, known as the Fête de l’Ail Rose de Lautrec, every year in Lautrec in early August. It is followed by the Fête du Pain et Le Festivaoût in mid-august to celebrate French breads and the Assumption.
Where should you stay?
Lautrec is a small village, so there is not much accommodation in town. I would recommend staying in Toulouse and visiting Lautrec as a day trip.
Hotels in Toulouse:
- €€€ – Hôtel Le Père Léon
- €€€€ – Crowne Plaza Toulouse
- €€€€€ – La Cour des Consuls Hotel and Spa Toulouse
If you enjoyed that article, you may want to read more about traveling around the Occitanie region of France. A bientôt!