Heading for the sun? Why not stop a while in Aveyron, at the crossroads between Auvergne, the south west and Languedoc, before meeting the crowds on the Mediterranean. Here, you can enjoy the space, take your time and get back to nature. Move beyond the fleeting whims of fashion, come and discover Aveyron and the timeless joys of authentic and profound experiences.
Discovering Aveyron means walking along the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage trails to see Aubrac and Conques, a masterpiece of Romanesque art, or listening to a concert of religious music at Sylvanès.
Discovering Aveyron means trying a plate of aligot in a buron, visiting Larzac and the Templar region, or rediscovering the Gallo-Roman era at Graufesenque just outside Millau (The Millau Viaduct). It means gazing in amazement at the sites along the Route of the Lords of Rouergue, in the Lot valley, looking up from the foot of Rodez cathedral, an taking the wonders of the Gorges du Tarn. It means visiting the largest collection of Megalithic stones in France, entering a new dimension at Micropolis, the world of insects, in Saint-Léons, home of Jean Henri Fabre, and exploring the circuit of bastide towns around Villefranche-de-Rouergue. But above all, discovering Aveyron means meeting people who cultivate a unique tradition of warm hospitality.
Belcastel on the Aveyron river
Cordes sur ciel
At the heart of the mountainous region of Aveyron, stretching towards distant horizons, the volcanic plateau of Aubrac unfolds as far as the eye can see and beyond.
Across its 2,500 square kilometers, the plateau is a land of forests and pastures, where the cattle graze peacefully during the summer months beside the innumerable bothies, known as 'burons'.
A magical land, where the changing light dramatically sculpts the landscape and the rocks, creating an atmosphere that is both unique and surprising. In winter, the snow transforms this vast plateau into a Nordic landscape, where downhill and cross country skiers can revel in the wide open spaces.
This vast landscape is ideal for all sorts of outdoor pursuits. A huge network of footpaths, bridle paths and tracks offers the opportunity to discover the region on foot, mountain bike or horseback, whether hiking from village to village or simply going out for a stroll.
The Aubrac breed, an emblem.
These cattle, with their distinctive black patches around their eyes, their magnificent horns and their honey coloured hides, are the aristocracy of the plateau. From the day of the transhumance at the end of May until the onset of cold weather in the autumn, they are to be seen grazing on the pastures of Aubrac.
The Bastides of Rouergue
At the beginning of the XIII century, the growth in population, the need to exploit their holdings and to organise economic exchange led the landed aristocracy, the bishops and the kings to implement a policy of rural development. Thus were born in the south west, during the period lasting 150 years dating from 1229 - 1373, some 315 bastide towns, new towns built to a geometric pattern, with straight streets and regular sized blocks. Aveyron boasts five such towns: Najac, Villeneuve-d'Aveyron, Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and finally La Bastide l'Évêque.
Visits of discovery, accompanied by accredited guides, will enable you to become initiated into this world of medieval town planning. From one bastide to the next, the door opens to reveal these prestigious monuments...
The medieval equivalent of a new town, Villefranche was founded in 1252 by Alphonse de Poitiers, Comte de Toulouse and brother of the king Saint-Louis. Its layout is characteristic of the bastides : very regular, with streets intersecting at right angles, converging towards a central market place surrounded by arcades, the centre of commerce and exchange at that time. The collegiale is also worth visiting. Starting from Villefranche, set out on a tour of the bastides...
The Route of the Lords of Rouergue
Visit the castles
The medieval châteaux in Aveyron open their doors to you: 23 castles which guarantee you a warm welcome, with lots of background information provided and reliable opening hours, as per their charter, (accompanied or unaccompanied visits, games for children, events, illuminations).
For groups, these castles offer themed evenings: medieval banquets, cabaret evenings, costume balls...
Culture and traditions
Come discover the Aveyron of the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage trails, the Aveyron of the mountains and Causses, the Rougiers or the Ségalas, the Aveyron of rivers and valleys, each with its own character, its own accents and its own recipes.
Perhaps it's while dining, a glass of Marcillac in hand, that you'll really come to understand what makes the Aveyronnais tick.
It is not enough to simply drive through the region in order to have visited it. Aveyron is not a museum, but an inexhaustible, living culture to be discovered.
The legendary Laguiole knife and Roquefort cheese are the department's ambassadors throughout the world, epitomising the traditional Aveyronnais know-how that's been handed down through generations…
Gorges de l’Aveyron – Vallée du Lot
Covering a vast zone in the western part of Aveyron, a mosaic of terroirs. At the heart of this land of contrasts, discover the architectural jewels, such as the bastides of Rouergue, (Najac, Villefranche, Villeneuve, La Bastide l'Évêque), and numerous châteaux.
Conques - Marcillac
Situated at the foot of the Causses, the vale of Marcillac symbolises la dolce vita, with its mild climate throughout the year, its houses made of red clay, its fruit trees and its terraces of vines. Conques, a Romanesque jewel, is a major staging post on the road to Santiago de Compostella.
Ségala – Pays du Viaur
The land of 100 valleys " extends from the Lévézou lakes to the valleys of the rivers Aveyron and Viaur. From ridgetop roads, one plunges down towards the streams and rivers which carve their way down the wooded slopes. Le Ségala is dominated by its jewel, Sauveterre de Rouergue, a magnificent bastide.
Rodez – Vallée de l’Aveyron
Starting from Sévérac-le-Château, the source of the river Aveyron, the river will lead you naturally to Rodez, a town founded two millenia ago. Situated in the heart of Aveyron, the préfecture will welcome you in the shadow of the cathedral said to have the most beautiful belfry in France.
Lac de Pareloup – Lac de Lévezou
On this vast plareau between the valleys of the Tarn and the Aveyron, no less than six vast and beautiful artificial lakes, including lake Pareloup (1200 hectares), the lake of Pont-de-Salars and the lake of Villefranche-de-Panat. The hills of Lévezou create a picturesque backdrop of wooded hillsides and pastures, making the region a popular holiday destination.
Millau – Gorges du Tarn
Stretching way beyond the horizon, the plateaux of Larzac, Méjean, Sauveterre and Causse Noir straddle the depths of the Tarn, Jonte and Dourbie gorges. At the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses, you will discover a rich architectural heritage, notably the renown Templar and Hospitaller sites on Larzac.
Le Pays du roquefort
From the foothills of the Lacaune mountains to the renown Larzac plâteau, passing through the Rougier de Camarès and the Tarn valley, the countryside around Roquefort a land of contrasting colours, criss-crossed by numerous rivers and streams. Realm of the ewe, it is here that the famous Roquefort cheese has been produced for centuries.
The Viaur river