Set on the banks of the River Tarn, Montauban is a historically rich city north of Toulouse. It is built predominantly from a reddish-coloured brick that gives the city an ochre glow. Montauban is home to a secret vault where Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was hidden during World War II.
Things to do in Montauban
At the heart of Montauban is Place Nationale, an arcaded square lined with alfresco cafes, restaurants and bars. A short walk away is the Musee Ingres, where you can admire the personal collection of 19th-century painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. The museum also features an entire floor dedicated to the work of Antoine Bourdelle, a prolific sculptor who was born in Montauban.
Occupying a restored Jesuits’ college is the Centre du Patrimoine, which explores the political, cultural and economic events that have shaped the city. Changing exhibitions take place in its gallery spaces, usually with a focus on specific historical periods or local artists. Adjacent is the charming Church of Saint Joseph with its beautifully painted ceiling.
Spanning the River Tarn is the Pont Vieux, a magnificent arched bridge that dates back to the 14th century when it was constructed to defend the city against the Abbots of Montauriol. It has witnessed some of the most tumultuous events in Montauban’s past, including the takeover by the Huguenots and their surrender to the Catholics. Today, it offers impressive views of the Episcopal Palace and the Church of Saint-Jacques.
Getting around Montauban
Montauban is around 45 minutes’ drive from Toulouse and 40 minutes from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Regular trains connect to the Montauban Ville Bourbon railway station and buses travel throughout the commune. The centre of Montauban can easily be explored on foot.