“Aux Volets Bleus”, at Milhars, is situated in the north of the Tarn, between Cordes-sur-Ciel to the south and St Antonin-Noble-Val to the west. Not only is the area one of outstanding natural beauty, it also has a fascinating history. During the Middle Ages and the period of the Crusades, the conflict between the Catholic Establishment and the Cathar Conspiracy gave birth to the Albigensian Crusade, with the building by the Cathars of the many “Bastides” – the fortified hill-top villages so typical of the area.
The area offers wonderfully varied activities.
Bird watchers should bring their binoculars – buzzards are common and other rarer raptors, such as goshawks, can often be spotted. Many other species, some not seen in the UK, can be seen at Aux Volets Bleus or in the river meadows. The list is long, but here is a taster: Sparrows, gold finches, golden orioles, green woodpeckers, kingfishers, hoopoes.
Those of you who are botanists will relish the amazing variety of wild flowers, from common sages and aquilegias, to many different orchids and the millions of cowslips, there is something to interest you at every step. Butterflies love them too and you will be rewarded by seeing some unusual varieties.
To the west of Milhars and north of the Gaillac wine region, with its celebrated vineyards, the forest of the Gresigne dominates the higher ground and is home to deer, wild boar and red squirrels, as well as other wild animals.