The medieval city of Rieux Volvestre in Haute Garonne is like a little sister to Toulouse. La Cathedral of Sainte-Marie bears a striking resemblance to the Jacobins in Toulouse, with it’s impressive octagonal steeple. Rieux Volvestre is one of the stops on the Via Garona.
Known as one of the “most beautiful detours in France”, I can attest that it is a stop well worth taking. Rieux Volvestre is less than one hour south of Toulouse, half way between the city and the Pyrenees.
It is also known as a “green station” so labelled for its rich natural environment. It is a touristic label given to places favouring nature tourism, respectful of the human and natural environment. A sort of eco tourism accolade.
On the Auriac Bridge, the Chapelle, or oratorio protected the city from the Huguenots (protestants) and against flooding.
If you are not actually on la via Garona, you may want to venture off on one of the area hikes. PR26 “Balcony of the Pyrenees” for example will afford you wonderful views of the Pyrenees as well as a striking panorama of the ancient sector of Rieux Volvestre, notably of the cathedral. It is 7.5 km, with a gentle elevation of 120 metres. Another local walk is the Path of Renaudis, a loop which is fairly easy as well. It starts off a bit hilly and then opens onto a plain with an amazing view of the cathedral and its steeple as well. This one is a little shorter at 6.5 kilometres, with an elevation of 95 metres. The PR12 “from the cathedral to the Gallic Village” is slightly longer at 11.7 km, and has an elevation of just 45 m. It departs from the cathedral and takes you along a panoramic walk on the Garonne plain arriving at the Village Gaulois.
As well as the detailed walking and cycle routes you can also wander along the riverbanks of the Garonne, l’Arize, la Leze, la Louge or Volp rivers and take in the local scenery at your own stride. There are fishing spots and equestrian centres which you can enquire about at the Office du Tourism. If you are lucky you will find Stéphanie, who is passionate and knowledgable about the region and likes to speak English.
For the little ones:
It is a great stop for families as well with the eco museum of Gaulois, (hopefully reopening sooner than later but Covid be the boss on that one). On the side of the Garonne sits a 27 acre replica Gallic village where you can see craftsmen working with metal, wood or on the land much as our ancestors did 2000 years ago.
The Region and other things to do:
The main towns of Volvestre are: the episcopal city of Rieux-Volvestre, Montesquieu-Volvestre, Carbonne and Sainte-Croix-Volvestre. All with their own charm and beauty.
There is a place to learn wake boarding if you need a new nautical sport to add to your list. Visit www.lasourcewakepark.fr for details.
If you are more of a stargazer head to the Latrape planetarium. Visit www.les-pleiades.asso.fr for information.
There is a paragliding centre not super far away in Gouzens, : visit www.parapenteattitude.com
Between Rieux-Volvestre and Carbonne is the ‘retenue de Mancies’, a 35 acre recreational body of water made up of a section of the Garonne River between the Carbonne and Cazères dams organised into a leisure spot. You can enjoy boat excursions, windsurfing, tennis or pétanque. It is also the starting point for more hiking trails.
As you can see there is quite a bit to do around here and at the very least it is a detour worth the effort.
I hope that you have enjoyed this post about Rieux Volvestre. Follow me to keep up with me on my travels around beautiful Occitanie
………………à bientôt Christina