Festivals and exhibitions in and around Cordes sur Ciel
Cordes sur Ciel is a bustling little place and all year round something is happening in the town or nearby, although the summer months between June and September are the busiest. A particular favourite is the mediaeval festival in July packed with activities for all the family: watch mediaeval craftsmen at work, see the costumed parades, shop in the mediaeval market and enjoy the firework display.
Temporary exhibitions of modern art are mounted in the Musée d’Art Moderne & Contemporain, open between March and November, in addition to the permanent galleries of 20th century work. The Charles-Portal Museum is open from April to November, and displays its collection of artefacts illustrating the story of Cordes sur Ciel through the centuries in a series of rooms, as well as offering video presentations. The Charles-Portal also holds special temporary exhibitions: in 2012 the theme is games where the items on show have been loaned by the Tarn Département Archive. The town’s history as a centre of excellent machine embroidery is celebrated at La Gaudane, where there the last working loom may be seen in a restored workshop, and there is also a room dedicated to the industry at the Modern Art Museum. La Gaudane is open to visitors between May and October and also hosts a cine club.
Sugarcraft enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the Musée de l'Art du Sucre, where there are some astonishing examples of the craft to be seen. Open between April and October, it’s also possible to attend a demonstration, but places are limited so must be booked in advance.
July sees the Cordes sur Ciel Music Festival, with a series of concerts inside the Eglise Saint Michel, together with a number of street performances around the town, as well as the chance to come and meet the craftsmen who make the instruments. Tickets for the concerts may be booked singly or a pass for the whole programme is available at a discount; there is no charge for street events. Also in July, the Médiathèque du Pays Cordais holds a Poetry Festival with readings and discussions of contemporary verse.
Just outside the town is Les Cabannes, a little village with a big choice of evening activities including open air film shows and concerts each Wednesday during July and August. Les Cabannes is alive to the sight and sound of boules being played every day between 4.30 pm and 7 pm in the Place le la Promenade.
Lovers of fine foods are spoilt for choice in France, not only with the array of restaurants, but also the many fairs and festivals celebrating either single products, or the gastronomic delights of the region. A great example is the Lautrec Pink Garlic Festival in August where you can taste garlic soup, inspect the works of art made from garlic and witness the coronation of Miss Ail Rose de Lautrec. The importance of the grape in the southwest of France is marked with wine festivals, notably the Gaillac Wine Fair where more than 100 winegrowers invite you to sample their wares, both in town and at the vineyard.
Even if your visit doesn't coincide with one of the major food events, there are many traditional markets: there is an open air market every Saturday morning in the lower town of Cordes sur Ciel; it has a genuine countryside atmosphere, with stallholders offering fresh seasonal goods as well as locally produced cheeses, pâtés, cakes and biscuits. In July and August there are special night markets each week, with musical entertainment provided: why not dine out in the market square?