Montauban travel guide

Photo of Montauban

Visit Montauban (Occitanie, France)

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Montauban is a historical bastide town situated about 50 kilometres north of Toulouse in the Tarn-et-Garonne department.

The town, founded in 1144 by the Count of Toulouse on the banks of the Tarn River, is largely constructed using the attractive pink stone found in the region, like its great southern cousin Toulouse.

Explore Montauban

France This Way comment: in recent years Montauban has been transformed and the two main squares  - the Place Nationale and the Place Roosevelt in front of the cathedral - have been made attractive, and a visit is recommended.

The highlight of the town is at the centre of the original bastide in the Place Nationale. Surrounded by grand pink houses in the red-brick that is unique to this part of France, and set above pretty arcades.

Note that although the site is the historic trading centre of Montauban, this attractive square in Montauban was largely rebuilt in the 17th century after two fires, so it is not the original bastide centre.

cafe in Montauban

The arcades (the arches and walkways that surround the square and historically provided shelter for the market traders) are an unusual 'double' construction with one set of arcades near the house and shop fronts and another closer to the main square.

Intact on all four sides, this central square in Montauban is one of the most impressive to be seen in all of the bastide towns of south-west France and some experts maintain that it is also the oldest bastide town in France.

The centre of the square now features a 'mirror of water' with several tiny fountains and an occasional mist of water, and is very impressive.

After perhaps stopping for a pause in one of the cafes in the Place Nationale be sure to wander around the surrounding streets a little. If you follow the Rue de la Republique you will see a smaller square called Place du Coq which is also charming.

Around the Plazce Nationale, the streets follow the traditional grid pattern of a bastide town, and the straight streets of Montauban town centre around the centre now form a lively shopping centre, with lots of interesting features and buildings to discover.

 
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Keep exploring along Rue de la Republique until you reach the river and a chance to see the lovely old bridge - and old it is, having being built around 1303-1335, much older than most 'old bridges'!

Before you cross the bridge, walk along the Quai Montmurat to see the three historic convents in Montauban, built in the 17th century and now used for other purposes - hotel, government offices and a retirement home.

You can cross the bridge for pretty views of the houses on each side of the river, then walk a short distance south along the rive gauche to again cross the river using the Pont Neuf, a concrete bridge built at the beginning of the 20th century.

From here you quickly reach the Jardin des Plantes, a large public gardens with a wide range of trees and flowers along the banks of the Tescou. The trees come from all around the world so you will see, for example, an American redwood tree and a Chinese Ginkgo tree.

The tourist office in Montauban is in an attractive red-brick building that was originally a Jesuit College dating from the 17th century, although a significant part of the building is a result of later additions and modifications following fire damage.

Religious monuments

Among the highlights in Montauban you will discover the Church of Saint Jacques - an attractive 13th century church with an octagonal belfry and an impressive mosaic entrance that survived the fires that later destroyed much of the town centre.

Despite modifications in the 18th and 19th centuries, apart from the Pont Vieux it is the only medieval building in Montauban.

Another religious monument, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (1739) is built of white stone at the highest point of the town. It is in a classical - baroque style with four statues on the facade and notable as being one of the few buildings in the centre to be built from stone.

Inside the cathedral you can see the 18th century stalls, a 17th century organ and an important painting by Ingres.

Montauban cathedral

Other places of interest in Montauban

One notable attraction in Montauban is the Museum Ingres (next to the old bridge), where you can see the works of renowned 19th century artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and another local artist called Bourdelle.

The museum is found in an impressive palace that has been built on the site of an earlier palace that was occupied by the Black Prince during the Hundred Years War, and you can see remains of the original building in the basement of the Museum.

Other museums in Montauban are dedicated to the Resistance and Deportation during World War 2; and the Museum Victor Brown, dedicated to natural history and paleontology.

Attractions nearby

Among the most visited attractions in this part of the Tarn-et-Garonne are cathedral and cloisters at Moissac to the north-west and the lovely city of Toulouse to the south of Montauban.

You can find more travel ideas in the Tarn-et-Garonne guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also: 

Photos of Montauban

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Visit near Montauban with France This Way reviews

Realville

Realville

The focus in the small bastide town of Réalville is the main square, surrounded by 16th century houses

Realville guide
Moissac

Moissac

Moissac might go unnoticed except it has the 12th century Abbey Church of Saint-Pierre, and one of the loveliest cloisters in France

Moissac guide
Bruniquel

Bruniquel

The cobbled streets, numerous medieval buildings and the castle combine to make Bruniquel a very lovely village to explore

Bruniquel guide
Montpezat-de-Quercy

Montpezat-de-Quercy

Montpezat-de-Quercy village has a lovely centre with arcaded houses and a 14th century collegiale church

Montpezat-de-Quercy guide
Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

The castle and the arcaded buildings around the central square are among the places of interest in Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave

Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave guide
Castelnau-Montratier

Castelnau-Montratier

Castelnau-Montratier is a historic village with an imposing church and central square

Castelnau-Montratier guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Tarn-et-Garonne

Tourist classifications for Montauban

Montauban has received the following tourist classifications: historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History

Address: Montauban, Midi-Pyrenees, 82000, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 44.025, longitude 1.3535

Plan your visit to Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Moissac abbatiale St Pierre (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (23 km)
  • Bruniquel: most beautiful village (25 km)
  • Cayriech: ville fleurie 4* (30 km)
  • Lauzerte: most beautiful village (31 km)
  • Jardin du Pèlerin: remarkable garden (31 km)
  • Jardin et parc du château de Larra: remarkable garden (33 km)
  • Parc du château de Merville: remarkable garden (34 km)
  • Auvillar: most beautiful village (37 km)
  • Rabastens église Notre-Dame-du-Bourg (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (37 km)
  • Abbaye de Saint Maurin (Saint-Maurin): religious monument (42 km)
  • Forêt de Bouconne: site of natural beauty (44 km)
  • Eglise de Notre-Dame (Lacour): religious monument (44 km)

Market days in Montauban, France

Regular market(s) are held in Montauban each Wednesday all day & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Montauban (Francais)

 
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