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Tarn Explorer

Timeless scenery of south-west France
Promising beautiful views over the valley, this wonderfully varied holiday offers self-guided cycling, combined with walking, sightseeing and canoeing on ‘stay put’ days. Your luggage is transported between the welcoming country inns, where you savour the flavours of south-west France.

Holiday information


An activity holiday in the Tarn

North-east of Toulouse, the River Tarn meanders past old stone villages and through rolling hills cloaked in woodland of oak and chestnut. Birds of prey survey the timeless scenery from on high, while herons stand statue-like at the water’s edge. Trout and perch from the river feature widely on menus alongside cassoulet and duck – classic flavours of the south-west.
Starting and finishing in the small, red-brick city of Albi, which has gained renown for its excellent museum devoted to the works of its most famous son, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, this holiday is wonderfully varied.
Three days of cycling – featuring many riverside sections – alternate with ‘free’ days on which you have the chance to walk, sightsee in Albi, or simply relax. There is even the opportunity on one day to take to the water in a canoe if you so wish, offering you a different perspective of this enchanting region.


The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 9 11 14 16 20 24 27 27 24 19 13 10
    mm 77 79 74 66 61 46 22 43 65 104 101 78
  • Arrival in Albi
    Night 1: at Hotel Chiffre (the first of two nights).
    As your first night's accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of cycling.
  • Explore Albi
    Your first day is free to explore intriguing Albi, often referred to as ‘La Ville Rose’ because of its faded red-brick buildings which glow pink under the setting sun. We provide notes for an optional self-guided walking tour that starts with the city’s imposing cathedral – the largest brick building in the world – then explores the medieval streets of half-timbered houses and merchants’ mansions before finishing at the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. The gallery (pay locally) houses the single largest collection of works by Albi’s most famous son, with over 1,000 pictures, lithographs and drawings, and is a fascinating place to while away a couple of hours.
  • Cycle from Albi to Ambialet: 26.5km; longer option: 28km
    After collecting your bicycles, you head out of the city and pedal east to Arthès, from where you have a choice of routes. One option winds along the Tarn’s scenic north bank (along which there are several good spots for a lazy riverside picnic), while a slightly longer route loops north of the river, passing through several sleepy villages that nestle in the hills. Whichever you choose, you are likely to sight birds of prey gliding high above the valley. Your destination for the next two nights is the Hotel du Pont in Ambialet.
    Albi to Ambialet: 26.5km
    Longer option: 28km
  • Free day in Ambialet

    Explore Ambialet
    Ambialet is uniquely positioned on a presqu’île (‘almost island’) created by an oxbow in the River Tarn. For a lazy day, stroll to the 11th-century priory which stands on the peninsula’s highest point before returning to the hotel and its inviting outdoor swimming pool.

    Circular walk from Ambialet: 14km, 5.5hrs
    If you can tear yourselves away from the pool, we recommend striking out on foot on a circular walk which leads up, via the pretty village of Le Perié, to the cultivated plain above the River Tarn. From here, you descend through fields and woodland, crossing streams and passing abandoned mills to reach the river once more.
    Circular walk from Ambialet: 14km
    Ambialet's priory
  • Cycle from Ambialet to Villeneuve: 30km
    Back in the saddle once more, you head eastwards along the north bank on scenic country lanes which echo the curls of the river. You then cross the Tarn to join an undulating country road through the picturesque hills framing the River Rance to the village of Plaisance. Spend some time wandering through the narrow streets, admiring the church’s fine stained glass windows, and drinking in the views from the top of the village, before heading across rolling hills dotted with farmsteads back towards the River Tarn. For the final leg you ride on quiet lanes that keep close to the south bank, so you may spot herons as you approach the Hostellerie des Lauriers in Villeneuve-sur-Tarn, where you spend two nights.
    Ambialet to Villneuve: 30km
    Approaching Villeneuve
  • Free day in Villeneuve-sur-Tarn

    Circular walk from Villeneuve: 16.5km, 5.5hrs; shorter option: 13km, 4.5hrs
    Our varied and pretty walking route from Villeneuve-sur-Tarn explores the hills and valleys to the south of the river, passing many farmsteads and sleepy hamlets. The highlight is the section along a panoramic ridge overlooking both the Rance and Tarn valleys, from where you can choose between a longer or a more direct route back to your base.

    Canoeing on the Tarn
    For a different perspective of the valley, you can hire canoes from the village on the opposite bank, and enjoy a gentle paddle to a point downriver where you will be met and taken back upriver by minibus (pay locally).
    Circular walk from Villeneuve: 16.5km
    A local market
  • Cycle from Villeneuve to Albi: 39km
    The cycle ride back to the Hotel Chiffre in Albi leads along the north and south banks of the river, offering a different perspective of the valley as well as glimpses of the cathedral as you draw nearer. We recommend taking an evening stroll on to one of the bridges as the sun sets so that you can admire the city in all its glory.
    Villeneuve to Albi: 39km
    Albi's magnificent cathedral


You start and finish in Albi, where you can take your pick of the restaurants. Elsewhere, you stay in authentic country inns which serve delicious dishes typical of south-west France.

Extend your stay

Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 7 nights: 01 May 2020 - 31 August 2020 & 01 September 2020 - 04 October 2020

    Start varies according to season | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 21 May 2020 £895 £235
    22 May - 25 Jun 2020 £945 £240
    26 Jun - 27 Aug 2020 £975 £250
    28 Aug - 27 Sep 2020 £945 £240
    3rd & 4th person discount -£60
    Single traveller supplement £60

    Includes accommodation, meals, bike hire, luggage transfers and any other services integral to the holiday as described, plus cycling notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

    7 nights: 01 May 2020 - 31 August 2020 & 01 September 2020 - 04 October 2020

    Start varies according to season | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 21 May 2020 £1295 £235
    22 May - 25 Jun 2020 £1360 £240
    26 Jun - 27 Aug 2020 £1390 £250
    28 Aug - 27 Sep 2020 £1360 £240
    3rd & 4th person discount -£185
    Single traveller supplement £185

    Includes all elements in the 'cycle price', plus standard-class travel by Eurostar from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet International to Lille or Paris, with onward travel as described below.

    Included travel: UK–Paris (Eurostar), Paris–Montauban (TGV/Intercité) approx duration out 8h30/home 9h & taxi transfer (1h).
    > More about 'by rail' prices
    > The 'rail experience': what to expect

    If you book your holiday less than 6 months in advance of your travel date, seats may no longer be available at the tariffs on which our prices are based, but we may be able to offer you seats on the same services at a supplement.

    7 nights: 01 May 2020 - 31 August 2020 & 01 September 2020 - 04 October 2020

    Start varies according to season | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 21 May 2020 £995 £235
    22 May - 25 Jun 2020 £1060 £240
    26 Jun - 27 Aug 2020 £1085 £250
    28 Aug - 27 Sep 2020 £1060 £240
    3rd & 4th person discount -£150
    Single traveller supplement £150

    Includes all elements in the 'cycle price', plus a return ferry crossing between Dover and Calais with P&O Ferries for your party and one car.

    A supplement of £35 per car per single journey applies for outward travel on 3-5 & 10-12 April 2020, and for homeward travel on 12-13 April 2020. A supplement of £47 per car per single journey applies outward on Fridays & Saturdays 22-23 May & 10 July-15 August 2020 and homeward on Saturdays & Sundays 30-31 May & 18 July-30 August 2020.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Hotel du Pont, Ambialet
    Superior: 01 May - 04 Oct 2020 £12

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Prices include an extra day’s hire of a standard bike except at Hotel Chiffre.
    Hotel Chiffre, Albi (B&B) Double room Single room
    10 Apr - 04 Oct 2020 £76 £116
    Hotel du Pont, Ambialet (with dinner) Double room Single room
    10 Apr - 14 May 2020 £90 £116
    15 May - 15 Sep 2020 £100 £126
    16 Sep - 04 Oct 2020 £90 £116
    As an alternative to flying, we can arrange rail travel from London

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  you may need to fly via an airport not listed. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Aberdeen - Toulouse (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Toulouse (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Toulouse easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Durham Tees Valley - Toulouse (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Toulouse Ryanair 
    Edinburgh - Toulouse (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Edinburgh - Toulouse (via Amsterdam) Air France 
    Edinburgh - Toulouse (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Toulouse easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Toulouse easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Toulouse British Airways 
    Heathrow - Toulouse (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Toulouse easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Toulouse Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Toulouse (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Toulouse (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Newcastle - Toulouse (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Southampton - Toulouse (via Paris) Air France 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  you may need to fly via an airport not listed. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service (£60 for India and Nepal). Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Toulouse

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    rail Toulouse-Matabiau to Albi (1h10), hotel transfer Albi to hotel (0h05) £21 1600
    direct taxi Toulouse airport to hotel (1h10) £80 flexible
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    hotel transfer to Albi (0h05), rail Albi to Toulouse-Matabiau (1h-1h25) £21 1100
    direct taxi hotel to Toulouse Airport (1h10) £80 flexible
What is included
  • 7 nights
  • 4 dinners
    7 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • high-quality bicycle

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >



If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help.
  • Our chosen bike rental shop will provide you with a hybrid bike with 18 or 24 gears; a waterproof map case on handlebars; panniers/saddlebags; pump; puncture repair kit; and a lock.
  • While we would always recommend that you take your own well-fitting helmet, they can be hired locally for a small fee. Please let us know at the time of booking if you would like to hire a helmet.
  • Yes, we will provide GPX tracks for this holiday prior to departure so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. (We also provide maps and our tried-and-tested route notes.)
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. On mornings when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation so that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.
  • You do need to make sure you’re covered, because it’s you who is responsible for any damage to or loss of the bike during the holiday. You should always lock it (preferably to an immovable object) and remove any easy-to-steal accessories when leaving it unattended. The travel insurance policy that we offer covers you for loss and damage (provided you’ve locked or stored it appropriately). If you are arranging your own insurance, but it doesn’t cover bikes, we can provide bike-only cover. See the FAQs section of the main cycling holidays page for more details.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our travel insurance policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your alternative policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to France, but not a visa. If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC). You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). UK citizens should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by applying at a Post Office or at The EHIC allows reciprocal health care but should not be seen as a substitute for travel insurance.
  • The official language is French. The currency is the Euro. French time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them when the UK withdraws from the European Union (EU).

    It currently seems highly likely the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will take place on 31 January 2020, at which point the UK will enter a minimum 11-month transition period through to the end of December 2020. During this transition period there will be absolutely no changes to current arrangements for UK citizens travelling to an EU destination, so you can book your 2020 holiday certain that there will be no disruptions or complications caused by Brexit.
  • The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
Last fetch time is : 7/12/2020 5:13:27 PM