The department of Aveyron is found at the south western point of France’s Massif Central where the Rivers Lot and Tarn flow through breathtaking scenery and deep dramatic gorges. Aveyron has been wonderful walking country since the days of medieval pilgrims. Lakes and hills, wild moorland, forests and grassland are home to deer and wild boar, eagles and kestrels, poppies and orchids. In Aveyron, there are ample opportunities for river sports, horse riding, cycling, golf and even potholing.
Aveyron’s most famous export is undoubtedly Roquefort, the blue cheese made from ewe’s milk and matured for 3 months in limestone caves. Visits to the caves and tastings can be arranged at the little village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
Architecturally, Rodez, the capital of Aveyron, is packed with Gothic masterpieces, most outstandingly the cathedral of Notre-Dame with its magnificent bell tower. All make a perfect backdrop for the medieval market, including actors and jugglers, and the free concerts and shows of L’Estivada - Occitan music festival - both held here each July.
The picturesque old tanning town of Millau, once a major glove producer, has shady squares with cafes and restaurants. In former times, a Roman ford crossed the River Tarn here and now travellers marvel at the Millau Viaduct, an exceptional piece of civil engineering with masts higher than the Eiffel Tower.
The Sainte-Foy abbey church in the medieval hillside village of Conques was a stopping place for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Today’s pilgrims must also visit parts on foot as the streets are too narrow for tour buses! Several villages in Aveyron such as Belcastel, with its chateau, and Najac, have been classed as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Najac is also the place to try a piece of traditional patisserie - a cake flavoured with orange-flower water known as Fouace de Najac.