St Antonin is a medieval town with buildings dating back 900 years. You can lose yourself in the warren of narrow, car-free streets where you’ll find wonderful architecture at every turn. Despite this, the town is so compact that you’re never more than a few minutes walk from the centre.
The town has a really nice balance between tourism and rural French life. It’s a popular destination, but life still goes on here for the locals much as it has done for centuries. On Sunday one of the best markets in France spills out from the main square into many of the streets, and there are cultural events and festivals to enjoy throughout the summer.
The town has a wide variety of restaurants, from high-end gourmet dining to simple, traditional restaurants . Choice for vegetarians is unusually good. There are bars too which are great for soaking up the atmosphere and indulging in a spot of people watching. We have wide variety of independent shops and even a rather quirky cinema.
In recent years an arts community has started to thrive, so there are galleries to visit where you can talk to the artists and participate in workshops.
St Antonin is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. There are fabulous walks from the doorstep, and endless road (link to other site) and mountain bike riding. Kayak trips down the river are deservedly popular and are the best way to see the Aveyron gorge. The river, which is warm and very clean is wonderful for swimming. The cliffs towering over the town are the venue for world class rock climbing and parapenting, and there’s caving and horse riding nearby too.
The town is used regularly for filming. Last year we hosted The Hundred Foot Journey starring Helen Mirren, and before that Charlotte Grey starring Cate Blanchett. Last year we came 3rd in a national television competition France’s Favourite Village.
There is a limited bus service, but everything you need is within a couple of minutes walk. We often go for days without using our car!
Parking in the town is free and there are a number of nearby car parks.
The town is in a little known part of France, but within easy reach of a wide variety of attractions which make for good day trips.
There are many medieval villages in the region, and while St Antonin is one of the most impressive, some of the others have a very different character and are worth the trip. Cordes Sur Ciel is 30 minutes away and is perched spectacularly on a rocky outcrop. Its name is well deserved; it really does look as though it’s in the sky. St Cirq Lapopie in the Lot Valley is one of France’s most loved villages, and closer to home are Puycelci and Najac.
For a complete contrast, Toulouse, an hour away by car or train is said to have the best quality of life of any French city and is a major centre of French culture. Much smaller is Albi, also around an hour away with its unique cathedral and Toulouse Lautrec museum.
We’re close to several wine growing regions. Gaillac , known for its light, easy drinking wines is 30 minutes south, whereas the heavy reds of Cahors are to the north. Also nearby are the little known Quercy wines and more as you head through Montauban and towards Toulouse.