Tarn: France’s ‘little Tuscany’ in demand among domestic holidaymakers

Three other Occitanie departments were also included in an Airbnb list of trending summer destinations, reflecting a growing preference for holidays in the countryside in favour of city breaks

11 August 2021
An image Albi, the capital of the Tarn department

Albi is the capital of the Tarn department Pic: yvon52 / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

The rural department of Tarn, Occitanie, is one of the most popular among French domestic holiday makers this summer, a new Airbnb study suggests. 

The holiday rental company has released a list of this summer’s trending French destinations based on figures from June and July, and four departments in Occitanie have made the top 10. 

Among these sought-after locations were Aveyron, Hautes-Pyrénées and Gard, but it was Tarn, with its quiet medieval villages and peaceful countryside, that proved to be the most desirable visitor destination.   

Green landscapes and atmospheric towns

The Rocks of Sidobre are situated in the Tarn countryside Pic: goumi / Shutterstock

Situated in the centre of the Occitanie region and named after the river which runs through its principal towns, Tarn - sometimes referred to as France’s ‘little Tuscany’ - boasts green, rolling landscapes, complemented by the historic highlights of its capital, Albi, which has been classed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2010. 

Visitors to the town can soak up the ancient feel of its 1000-year-old Old Bridge, its Saint-Salvi quarter and its towering Gothic cathedral, which is said to be the largest brick building in the world. 

Meanwhile, nestled within Tarn’s peaceful countryside sit the Vineyard of Gaillac and the mysterious Rocks of Sidobre. 

Celebrating the growing appreciation for this understated department, a spokesperson for Tarn Tourisme said: “The current health crisis has changed traveller habits, creating a desire for tourism in local, natural environments. 

“Tarn’s touristic offering chimes perfectly with these new expectations: the need to disconnect, to find new ways of holidaying far away from the bustle of towns and cities, and the desire to be in nature. 

“Tarn can be characterised in two words: beautiful and warm. With its varied landscapes, friendly people, local cuisine, rich historical heritage and gentle style of life, this area has it all.”

Between January and June of this year, 2.2 million nights’ worth of Airbnb stays were recorded in Tarn, an increase of 12.8% on the previous year, which contributed €93.5 million to the local economy.

The medieval town of Cordes-sur-Ciel is one of the jewels in Tarn's crown Pic: Alberto Loyo / Shutterstock

New Airbnb hosts in the Hérault and Gard departments of Occitanie were also among those who had received the highest revenue between April and July 2021.

Other popular destinations included in Airbnb’s list were Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur and the Jura Mountains, where Doubs proved to be the most in demand of all the French departments. 

This leaderboard reflects a general movement away from city breaks and towards rural and mountain holidays, continuing a trend noted by Airbnb last October. 

At this time, the company observed that their most popular destinations for French holiday makers were also non-urban, with departments in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Pays-de-la-Loire and Occitanie topping the list. 

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