In the south of France there is a natural treasure: Aveyron. It is one of an extensive countryside of contrasts and incredible beauty. Between green meadows, fairy woods, stone farms and medieval villages, we can find some of the best craftsmen in this country.
Aveyron, slow food and handmade
The Millau viaduct opens the doors to Aveyron. Here you will find many villages recognized as les villages plus beaux de france. From the beginning, the balance between tradition and modernity will be one of the signs of this region.
An example of this is Millau, the first large city and home to the Causses Gantier, the century-old leather manufactory. His gloves are known all over the world for their quality, design and elegance. It is not surprising that among its clients is the Channel firm or Karl Lagerfeld himself. It is worth getting closer to the store and entering the exhibition hall to learn the secret of its success.
Millau is situated in the heart of Larzac, a picturesque region where stones and shrubs dominate a dry and pastoral landscape. A few kilometers away there is Roquefort-sur-Souzon, a must for lovers of cheese and slow food. You must visit one of the 7 cheese factories that produce the mythical Roquefort, the best blue cheese in the world. We recommend the family company Papillon. It is the only one that makes its own penicillin naturally and its Roquefort is a living example of commitment to local producers.
But if you only have time to visit one of the villas in Larzac, La Couvertoirade is the best option. It was built by the Templars to give protection to the pilgrims who made the way to Santiago. Today it is a beautiful stone village, full of craftsmen and restaurants. July and August are the months of greater activity, but it is always a pleasure to walk through its streets, where history has imprinted its stamp in every corner.
Aubrac and the green meadow
To the north of Aveyron are the high lands of Aubrac. It is another of the essential of Aveyron and its landscape will not leave you indifferent. Green hills and leafy chestnut forests cover this volcanic plateau. Behind is the dry and warm landscape to give way to a totally opposite. This is where the famous cows of Aubrac are raised, a delight for the most foodies. In this rural setting, it is easy to find them in the extensive meadow. Only the barbed wire separates the country road. Here the fences are a constant and it’s a shame that there are not too many places to stop, picnic or trekking.
In autumn, the landscape flushes and the villages are hidden under the misty curtain between mountains. It is a good occasion to take some photos at dawn, when the light sculpts each silhouette and the landscape opens to a new day.
Laguiole is one of the most important villages in Aubrac, known worldwide for its knives. It is worth losing the timidity and entering one of the forges to meet their artisans. His dominance of steel is impressive. Each knife is a unique piece, elaborated by hand and they learn to realize them with a technique that passes from generation to generation.
But Laguiole offers us much more than knives. Here is also the famous cheese made with the traditional Aligot, a regional dish that combines with potato and crème fraîche. If you have time, visit the Anne et Pascal Auriat bakery. They make one of the best breads and sweets in the area. You should only follow the smell of anise and freshly baked bread to find it.
The Lot villages
Aveyron is crossed by the River Lot. On the banks of its winding course are some of the most charming villages of this region. Conques, Estaing or Espalion are the most outstanding. In summer they overflow vitality, but it is in autumn and spring when the colours acquire their greatest contrast. The light changes every moment, revealing an atmosphere full of magic.
Close to Espalion you will find the Abbadia de Bonneval. Founded more than a thousand years ago and abandoned after the French Revolution, it returned to its religious activity in the late nineteenth century. Since then, the Cistercian nuns who live there perform a curious activity every day: they make chocolates. The visit to this abbey is quite an adventure, but the end rewards it. Handmade chocolate with an intense and natural flavour. In addition to the imposing abbey, you can visit the shop and buy this delicious chocolate or stroll along one of the roads that cross through the valley.