Montauban is a very old (often referred to as pink – due to the red-brick) and large town, being the administrative centre for the Tarn et Garonne department. It is one of the oldest fortified towns on the River Tarn and was constructed by the Count of Toulouse in 1144 in order to defend the routes to Toulouse.
Here you will find the major hospitals and Government buildings. It is, however, beautifully preserved and visitors will note that it was laid out on a symmetrical pattern working around the market place.
Places of interest include
- The church of Saint-Jacques with its 13th century steeple
- The 14th century Pont Vieux, the bridge spanning seven pointed arches, built in 1335 and making this the best crossing point of the Tarn for miles around.
- The 17th century Bishop's Palace which houses the Ingrés Museum that exhibits the works of Ingrés, Bourdelle, and Desnoyers. This is built on the site of an earlier palace occupied by the Black Prince during the Hundred Years War, remains of the original building can be seen in the basement of the Museum.
- The Place Nationale, which is the red-brick market square with its double vaulted galleries dating from the 17-18th centuries.
- There is also a museum dedicated to the Resistance and deportation during WW2. Montauban played a significant part in the Resistance movement and is worthy of further investigation for those interested in this subject.
- The Cathedral of Notre-Dame (1739) is in a classical - baroque style with four statues on the facade and notable as being one of the few buildings in the centre to be built from stone. Inside the cathedral you can see a 17thcentury organ and an important painting by Ingres.
Montauban is an atmospheric but peaceful town with an historical feel whilst benefiting from modern facilities. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, the shops range from modern department stores, to exclusive boutiques, as well as, of course, traditional markets.