Rodez, Castres, Albi, Gaillac, Foix

If you live in or near one of these towns I would be interested in some feedback on the experience. We currently have a holiday home in a semi-rural location and are exploring vibrant towns with train links to Toulouse.

Rodez - Not great and far from Toulouse

Foix - Ok to visit but I couldn’t live there, too chilly at times. I much prefer Pampiers which is a bit closer to Toulouse.

Castres - is ok but not such a pretty town to live. Cooler in winter and very windy at times. An old military town with dubious architecture. Not for me but ok to visit.

Gaillac - Not bad and handy for Toulouse. Practical for most services and worth looking at though not as pretty as places like Albi.

Auch - Nice place to visit but quite run down or not as prosperous as other places.

Albi - The best of the bunch for me , a pretty town with loads of character and good shopping. Regular trains to Toulouse. Different climate to nearby Castres .

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Drove through Rodez many years ago, by mistake, as it turns out…reminded me of footage of the days of “Solidarity” in Gdansk.
I like Castres…it’s got good & not so good bits.
Wasn’t keen on Gaillac.
Albi’s nice.
Foix…can’t recall ever going there, but I may be wrong.

Better response already, agree with peter who lives in albi ; best town of the bunch although i like foix too for the mountains ( keen racing cyclist, done the ariégeoise xxl a couple of times) but there are a lot of baba-cool dropouts in the town centre. Rodez is good but different, not obvious at first, worked there for a few years, daughter born there, family there but still prefer albi :wink:

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As an aside, Andrew, I’ve not come across depour before. Google gives it as dropout but it isn’t in my dictionary. Am I behind the times on terminology?

Thanks Peter - this is very useful. Any thoughts on Agen?

Thanks Bob - the frankness is appreciated.

Hi Martin, Agen is a nice enough place though I wouldn’t want to live that close to a nuclear power station. ( 25 K ms), but that’s being picky.

I lived in Cahors for a few years and loved it.
Montauban centre is lovely but the rest is nowt special.

Really like visiting V illeneuve sur Lot but it’s quite a poor place imo but house prices there like Marmande are quite low.

I live a couple of miles from Albi centre in Lescure in a nice residential area. I love the area and especially Albi but this area does get warm in summer which is my only criticism.

“dropouts” typed on my mobile!

Ah… you are a “modern young person” then :smiley: I don’t use a smartphone…

We’re usually one of the hottest and Albi held the record a couple of years ago at over 41° if I remember correctly. Miles from the ocean, back against the wall of the massif central which blocks off any cooling from the sea too. A real heat-trap and our biggest criticisms too climat wise. We head for the mountains when we can in the summer.

Des racines et des ailes (on France 3 this evening) is based in Albi, well worth a watch :wink:

Thanks for the tip - we’ll try and catch it on the Internet. We stayed in Albi briefly last summer and loved it, the only issue being that we’d ideally like to live within walking distance of the centre and, as discussed on an earlier post, the most appealing residential areas are further away. We are a bit spoilt in Lewes where we live, and the ‘ideal’ in France would be somewhere similar in character and structure to Auray in Brittany, which we visited this year and which my wife knows well. Here there is a lively, cosmopolitan commercial centre and a riverside area with bars and restaurants all a stone’s throw from an attractive residential quarter. That’s our challenge!

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I think you’re talking about Decazeville not Rodez, Bob. :wink:

We looked for properties within walking distance of Gaillac centre and found very little for sale.
I know Auray and can guess what you’re looking for. A place very similar around here size wise would be somewhere like Lavaur with the town centre close to residential areas. We looked there and Rabastens and Lisle sur Tarn which is a lovely town, all within easy reach of Toulouse.

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That’s very helpful - we’ll take a look.

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Entirely possible Andrew; it was January 2003; overnight ferry from Portsmouth; very little sleep; knackered Transit; pulled up by plod under a motorway bridge in a deluge; left the, then incomplete motorway to “save time”…ha ha; what was I thinking ?!
Saw quite a bit or rural Aveyron/ Tarn though.

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They closed the opencast mine in the centre of Decazeville around 2003, the town isn’t much better now ( i left there 8 years ago and haven’t been back since!)

Peter, Lavaur looks lovely as do your other suggestions. When we can get down we’ll take a closer look.

Rodez is my nearest city, here’s its plusses - the large mediaeval city centre is on a hill high above the modern industrial estates that travellers drive through. It certainly has better quality shops than most places in the region, a good market, some very good restos, an excellent contemporary art museum and a decent arts and culture scene. The surrounding area has stunning scenery and loads of beautiful mediaeval villages (the Aveyron has more Plus Beaux Villages than any other dept).

Minuses: it’s a very long way from Toulouse! Bitter cold in winter and too hot in summer. Villefranche, also in the Aveyron looks good in photos, but has become very run down in recent years.

Switching from the Aveyron to the adjoining Lot - Cahors is a much closer to Toulouse than Rodez, but I don’t think it’s as attractive or prosperous as Figeac (not mentioned previously, but not far from the A20 and with a direct train to Toulouse). Both places have reasonable shops and architecture, but Figeac’s market’s much bigger and cheaper (though for value and sheer quality of produce neither compares with much maligned Decazeville above!) I’d also argue that the countryside around Figeac is more interesting than that around Cahors and further south.

It’s worth looking between Figeac and Cahors (Cele and Lot Valleys) popular with tourists, stunning scenery, lots of lovely rural properties, rich mediaeval architecture and close to the A20.

Hope that helps


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