La Malène rock manor Gorges du TarnLa Malène village in the Gorges du Tarn.
©La Malène village in the Gorges du Tarn.|Rémi FLAMENT
DiscoverLa MalèneA must-see village in the Gorges du Tarn

La Malène

La Malène is a picturesque village in the heart of the Gorges du Tarn, nestled between the cliffs of the Causse de Sauveterre and the Causse Méjean. Labelled a“Petite cité de caractère”, this village is renowned for its heritage and cobbled streets, but also for being the only departure point for the famous boat trip down the river.

La Malène

in the heart of the Gorges du Tarn

Situated in a talweg (path leading down to the valley), making it easy to access from the Causse de Sauveterre, this village is a must for your vacation in the Gorges du Tarn. It’s the starting and finishing point for canoeing and kayaking, as well as for a number of beautiful hikes (notably the new GR736 Gorges et Vallée du Tarn), and above all, it’s the only starting point for a boat trip with Les Bateliers des Gorges du Tarn. Whether you’re paddling or canoeing, or just swimming, the town is ideally placed for exploring the center of the Gorges. From La Malène, you can also access the Causse Méjean from one of the most beautiful roads in the whole of the Gorges: “les lacets de la Malène” (10 vertiginous hairpins!).

Classified as one of the “Petites cités de caractère” (Small towns of character)

An exceptional heritage

La Malène is one of the most beautiful villages in the Gorges du Tarn, and there’s a good reason for that: its heritage contributes to it! The 12th-centuryRomanesquechurch of Saint-Jean-Baptiste has been listed as a Monument Historique since 1928. In the center of the village, you’ll find the Manoir de la Malène, the 15th-century Manoir de Montesquiou, now a hotel-restaurant. Stroll along the village’s cobbled streets and admire the sometimes semi-troglodytic dwellings at the foot of the limestone cliffs (le rocher de la Barre) overlooking the village. Alongside the river, you’ll also find a mill that used to produce flour until the early 20th century; now it generates electricity and is also a canoe rental point.

Above the village, on the promontory, you’ll find some exceptional ruins: this is the“Castel Merlet“, a site that has been occupied since antiquity, but is best known for being the oldest known Merovingian castle in France: it is thought to have been built between the 6th and 7th centuries. Since 2008, various excavation campaigns have been undertaken on the site, which has yet to reveal all its mysteries… We’ve found houses with colonnades, amphorae, Roman baths… The buildings were sumptuous for their time, and commerce seemed to flourish.

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