Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Midi-Pyrenees: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Sauveterre-de-Rouergue (Midi-Pyrenees, France)
Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is a small bastide town tucked away in the far south of the Aveyron, south-west of Rodez. The village is a royal 13th century bastide which was fortified at a later date.
The ramparts around the town are still partly intact in Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and the houses have been beautifully preserved, giving the feeling that this village has been suspended in time.
Like many of the bastides in the area the key to this village is the central square which is flanked by grand town houses towering above the classic arcades. Many of the buildings are half-timbered construction and capped with the regional lauze rooves, incredibly steep, housing one or even two layers of attic rooms looking out over the cobbled square.
The surrounding streets also contain medieval houses, many of which are half-timbered houses with interesting features. The main historical monument of importance in Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is the Collegial Church of Saint-Christophe, and you can also see two of the original entrances into the town through the fortified walls.
More often than not when you visit Sauveterre-de-Rouergue you will find yourself alone in the central square, left to enjoy the peace and tranquillity even in the height of the season. This all changes, however, when you visit the town during one of its frequent ‘events’. There are many to choose from throughout the year, but our favourites are the Nocturnal Markets, the Fête de la Lumière, and the Fête de la Châtaigne.
The Nocturnal Markets are held every Friday evening during July and August. The village square is covered with tressle tables and the local producteurs arrive and set up their stalls around the arcades.
Opening at 6.30pm, you arrive and tour around the stalls making your selection from local specialities such as ‘warm goats cheese salads’, local ‘fois gras’, the traditional Aveyronaise dish of Saucisse Aligot and crêpe suzette all washed down with a locally produced bottle of wine. Then you just sit amongst the other visitors and enjoy an outdoor ‘picnic’ in a superb setting. There is always some form of local entertainment, perhaps a singing group or maybe traditional dancers in Aveyronaise costumes dancing to an accordion.
The Fête de la Lumière held on a Saturday at the beginning of August in Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is a spectacle not to be missed if you are in the area. As you pay your entrance fee (children enter free) and crowd into the square you are handed a tea light which you place with hundreds of others on the floor in the central square whilst you wait for the darkness to fall. Around 10pm the spectacle begins.
Each year a performance troop puts on an amazing theatrical display, entertaining everyone well into the night. For example, on year the performance involved two ‘human insects’ performing incredible feats suspended from wires strung across the square and up onto the roof tops. The evening ends with a quite amazing firework display lighting up the whole area.
The Fête de la Châtaigne occurs in late October, often coinciding with the UK half term holiday. For a small entrance fee (children enter free) you enter the square and can browse through craft stalls exhibiting handicrafts made in the local area. Traditional dancers entertain throughout the afternoon and at the far end of the square the chestnuts are roasted in large barrels over hot coals. In the centre of the square large apple presses produce sweet apple juice which everyone is welcome to enjoy.
Also boasting the accolade of being among the ‘most beautiful French villages’, Sauveterre-de-Rouergue is definitely worthy of a visit at any time of year.
It is principally the countryside and outdoor activities that attracts visitors to this region, and the chance to discover an unspoiled region of France. There are various historic villages that you can visit while you are here, with our favourites including Belcastel to the north of Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, and Najac and Cordes-sur-Ciel to the west.
Map of Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and places to visit
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Sauveterre-de-Rouergue has received the following tourist classifications: listed town of Art and History ; one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Baraqueville-Sauveterre, Rodez, Aveyron, Midi-Pyrenees, 12800, France || GPS: latitude 44.221, longitude 2.3186
Plan your visit to Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Midi-Pyrenees
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Belcastel: most beautiful village (19km)
- Gorges de l'Aveyron: site of natural beauty (25km)
- Villefranche-de-Rouergue: recommended detour (27km)
- Najac: town of art and history (27km)
- Jardin d'Eden du château du Colombier: remarkable garden (29km)
- Tindoul de la Vayssière: site of natural beauty (31km)
- Jardin de Paradis: remarkable garden (34km)
- Brousse-le-Chateau: most beautiful village (35km)
- Eglise de Saint-Cirice (Brousse-le-Chateau): religious monument (35km)
The French version of this page is at Sauveterre-de-Rouergue (Francais)