The District

Chèvrefeuille is situated on the Rue du Tailleur (Street of the Tailor) in the village of Brens on the left bank of the River Tarn. Brens is a delightful little fourteenth century village of around 2000 people with a general store, cafe/bar, boulangerie (bakery) hairdressers, pharmacy and a clinic. It has a noteworthy church and a fortified gate. Some of the street names evoke its medieval beginnings - Rue des Tisserands (Street of the Weavers), Rue des Forgerons (Street of the Blacksmiths), Rue des Treilles (Street of the Vine Trellises), Rue des Tonneliers (Street of the Cask-makers). The charm of Brens is captivating and a stroll through its picturesque streets is delightful.

Across the River Tarn, one and a half kilometres away, is the town of Gaillac (population 13,200). Gaillac is the centre of one of the oldest wine producing areas of France with cultivation of vines on the banks of the Tarn dating back 26 centuries.

The Benedictine monks who established a monastery in 819 and who in the thirteenth century constructed the Abbey of Saint-Michel were responsible for a charter guaranteeing the quality of Gaillac wines. The left bank of the Tarn produces red wines while the right bank produces reds and whites. Gaillac rosé is a summer delight. A wine festival is held each August in the grounds of the Chateau Foucaud.

There are four museums in Gaillac as well as the splendid Foucaud Park with a garden designed by Le Notre.

Within 15 kilometres of Brens and Gaillac are ten villages offering archaeological sites (Gallo-roman potteries, 100 BC), an archaeological museum, 13th 14th, 15th and 16th century churches and fortified villages and a 13th century chateau. Albi, the cultural centre of the Midi-Pyrenees is 25 kilometres from Brens. It is the best-known and most decorative of the brick towns of the Tarn and Garonne valleys.

Albi is dominated by the massive Cathedral, built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to re-affirm the defeat of the Cathar (Albigensian) heresies. The architecture from the Middle Ages is so well preserved in Albi that this Episcopal City was world heritage listed by UNESCO in July, 2010. In addition to Sainte-Cécile Cathedral, (the largest and oldest brick cathedral in the world) are the Berbie Palace, Saint-Salvi Collegiate Church and its cloister, pont-vieux and the banks of the Tarn. A total of 19.5 hectares.

The chic boutiques and restaurants of Albi are in the pedestrianised area south of the Cathedral.

The artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born within sight of the Cathedral in 1864. The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum near the Cathedral houses 210 of his paintings and over 600 drawings as well as works by Corot, Bonnard, Matisse, Dufy, Rodin, Bourdelle and Maillol.

Toulouse, the capital of the region is 45 kilometres to the south-west. Many splendid churches and museums are to be found in the old town centre which is enclosed by concentric boulevards. Toulouse has a summer music festival (July and August - classical, jazz and folk) and a piano festival in September. It is France’s fourth largest city and has an extensive main shopping district filled with department stores and boutiques. The Place Saint-George is surrounded by fashionable shops and is almost entirely taken over by cafe tables for most of the year. Toulouse is also home to the Airbus aeroplane factory which can be toured.

Most supplies can be bought in Brens and there are supermarkets in Gaillac. Market day in Gaillac is Friday. A full list of nearby towns and their market days is available at the house.

Remember that most shops, museums and other public buildings and banks are closed on Monday and generally on the following public holidays:

1 January (New Year's Day)
1 May (Labour Day)
8 May (Victory in Europe Day)
Ascension Thursday
Whit Monday
14 July (Bastille Day)
15 August (Assumption Day)
1 November (All Saints Day)
11 November (Armistice Day)
25 December (Christmas Day)