Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Midi-Pyrenees: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Midi-Pyrenees, France)
Villefranche-de-Rouergue is in the Aveyron department of the Midi-Pyrenees, 40 kilometres west of Rodez. The town is unusual among the 13th century bastide towns in the south-west of France in that it is very largely uncommercialised and is very much a 'typical French town'.
Perhaps this is because it is a little off the beaten track and there are few other large towns close by, although this is also perhaps the cause of a bit too much new development on the edges of the town.
There are two main streets in the historic centre of Villefranche-de-Rouergue, both attractive, that both lead to the main square and are lined with medieval houses in stone or half-timbered. Other smaller alleys radiate off from these in the centre.
Among the many medieval houses there are some that are particularly noteworthy, including the Maison Gaubert on Rue Marcellin-Fabre, the Maison Combettes on Rue du Sergent Borie and Maison Armand on Place Notre-Dame.
The square itself, the Place Notre-Dame, is an almost perfect bastide town centre, with intact arcades around the edges of the square, and attractive medieval houses above the arcades. This main square in Villefranche-de-Rouergue is also on a slope so from the upper corner you can look down on the lower half. The houses surrounding the square are taller than those found in most other bastide towns.
One corner of the square is, to say the least, dominated by the Collegiale Church of Notre-Dame and its oversized belltower and entrance porch - take a look at the 15th century stained glass windows inside the church.
France This Way comment: the many medieval houses here make Place Notre-Dame one of the most impressive bastide town squares that we have seen anywhere in France
On a smaller scale and also well worth a visit is the Chapelle des Penitents-Noirs: the unassuming outside of the chapel gives you litle clue to the beautifully painted interior, in the baroque style, and the impressive altar.
You can also see a 14th century fountain in the Place de la Fontaine opposite the town museum, the Musee Urbain Cabrol. Other interesting buildings in Villefranche-de-Rouergue include the 19th century Town Hall, originally built as the town Palace of Justice.
You should also wander down to the river, and take a look at the old stone bridge (the Pont des Consuls) and the riverfront. Unfortunately the bridge, with its origins in the 14th century, no longer has the towers that once formed part of the structure but you still get nice views along the river to the hills around the town.
Market day for Villefranche-de-Rouergue is Thursday, and is the liveliest day to visit the town.
The Chartreuse Saint-Sauveur (just to the south out of town on the Gaillac road) is a lovely ensemble of monastic buildings and has two very impressive cloisters (one of them is the largest in France), stained glass windows and some interesting woodcarvings on the stalls among its many features of interest.
Despite the relative isolation of Villefranche-de-Rouergue there is much to enjoy in the surrounding region. Among our favourite places are the picturesque village of Belcastel to the east, and the town of Najac to the south.
Map of Villefranche-de-Rouergue and places to visit
Visit near Villefranche-de-Rouergue with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Aveyron
Villefranche-de-Rouergue has received the following tourist classifications: recommended detour town (plus beau detour); listed town of Art and History
Address: Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Aveyron, Midi-Pyrenees, 12200, France || GPS: latitude 44.351, longitude 2.0369
Villefranche-de-Rouergue reviews and comments
There is now an airport at Dordogne Sud (Nespouls, Brive). Jet2 flights direct to Manchester.
Villefranche-de-Rouergue, France Rating: 3/5 Reviewed by on
Plan your visit to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Midi-Pyrenees
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Gorges de l'Aveyron: site of natural beauty (13km)
- Najac: town of art and history (15km)
- Beaulieu en Rouergue Abbey: national monument (21km)
- Jardins de Quercy: remarkable garden (22km)
- Belcastel: most beautiful village (24km)
- Gréalou dolmen de Pech-Laglaire (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (25km)
- Sauveterre-de-Rouergue: town of art and history (27km)
- Figeac: recommended detour (28km)
- Figeac Hopital St Jacques (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (29km)
- Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: most beautiful village (32km)
Market days in Villefranche-de-Rouergue, France
Regular market(s) are held in Villefranche-de-Rouergue each Thursday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Francais)