One of the most fairytale-like villages in the Gorges du Tarn would have to be Saint-Chely-du-Tarn. Nestled on the steep banks of the Tarn river in southern France, clinging onto and between the rocky outcrops of the gorge, Saint-Chely-du-Tarn has all the charm and melancholy of a French village hundreds of years old with all the modern amenities required by the modern tourist.

With only one way in and out, across a tall stone arched bridge and through a single lane arch cut into the rock of the gorge, and no through road, Saint-Chely-du-Tarn is an idyllic peaceful retreat, and therefore popular with those looking for a quiet get-away. Being almost in the centre of the gorge, it is also a popular stopping off point for those kayaking along to Tarn. Situated on a gentle bend in the river, it also has a stony beach, suitable for children wanting to paddle.


The church at Saint-Chely-du-Tarn

The village is only small, and can easily be covered by foot within a day. One of the first buildings the visitor passes is a small church, all that remains of a monastery that once dominated the village. There are no major sites or monuments in the village, but it still dotted with enchanting stone houses, many of which are now gîtes – homes available for short term rent.

Saint-Chely-du-Tarn is at its most enchanting when the creeks that run through town have a little water in them – such as after a few days of rain. The water runs not only through town, but out between the old buildings to cascade in a waterfall into the Tarn river. (See the photo above, and among the desktop wallpapers.)

An excellent restaurant sits just a little way up the hill from the church, the Auberge de la Cascade. The same business is a hotel with the rooms split between the restaurant building and another on the opposite side of the town square. The hotel’s swimming pool is also connected to the second building, and it sits by the watermill through which the creek falls into the Tarn river.

One of the highlights of wandering around the village must be the tiny chapel nestled beneath a huge rocky outcrop. Known as the Baume de Cénaret, the chapel is a haunting and unique place to visit. As curious as it is from the outside, it is inside that the chapel is at its spookiest.


The chapel known as the Baume de Cénaret


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