Visit Aveyron, France
It is the countryside of the Aveyron that best defines its character - not mountainous yet never flat, with deep green valleys falling between forested hillsides hiding rivers and villages unchanged with the centuries - except for the extensive Aubrac plateau to the north-east, a remote and dizzyingly large almost flat area that stretches as far as the eye can see, with its own particular charm and beauty
Selected places to visit in Aveyron
Aveyron sights and places to visit
The Aveyron department is the most north-easterly of the departments within the Midi-Pyrenees region. It falls within the hilly southern reaches of Massif Central region of central-southern France.
Aveyron is home to ten of the listed "most beautiful villages of France". These are Saint Eulalie d'Olt, Saint Come d'Olt, Sauveterre de Rouergue, Estaing, Conques, Brousse-le-Chateau, Belcastel, Najac, La Couvertoirade and Peyre. This is the highest number for any single department!
As well as ten most beautiful villages Aveyron has 6 bastides, 5 Michelin-starred chefs, 4 wine producing regions, 3 famous cheeses (Roquefort, Laguiole and Bleu des Causses), 2 'Great Sites of the Midi Pyrenees' (Conques and the Millau Viaduct) and an airport (Rodez).
For those looking for an active holiday rather than a gastronomic holiday part of the Way to Santiago de Compestella crosses the department. The GR65 enters the department at Aubrac and the route takes in three of the departments most beautiful villages as it heads west to Livinhac-le-Haut. You will walk through the beautiful villages of St Come d'Olt, Estaing and Conques.
For the enthusiastic cyclist there is also a 7 day cycle route which takes in all of the 'most beautiful villages' on its 700km route.
This part of the department includes (to the east) the Aubrac plateau - an extensive raised plateau that spreads into the neighbouring departments. Although at high altitude, the plateau is not mountainous but rather flat and undulating, and quite a harsh environment - one that is also known for the wide range of flora and fauna it contains. It is also home to the distinctive Aubrac cows with their sandy-coloured hides, fine horns and dark eyes.
The village of Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac is among the more notable in the region, and along with the nearby villages (Prades-d'Aubrac and Condom-d'Aubrac) is a good base for exploring this wild yet beautiful environment.
In Aveyron to the west of the Aubrac region are several particularly attractive villages. Highlights among them are certainly Conques, with its abbey and picture postcard setting (and one of our favourite villages in France) and Belcastel, the quiet village in a lovely riverside location a little further south. Other listed villages to visit in this part of Aveyron include Estaing, and neighbours Saint Eulalie d'Olt and Saint Come d'Olt, - each of these has its own particular characteristics and all merit a visit.
Around Entraygues you can visit the scenic region referred to locally as Carladez - best known for the Truyere Gorges and the lakes and dams that comprise the landscape
There are also two exceptional sites to visit in the northern Aveyron. One is the Forge de Laguiole who make the most amazing knives. The likes of Barrack Obama and Nicolas Sarkosy are proud owners of these knives but whilst some reach very high prices there are some lovely affordable knives too. The building and some of the knives were designed by Philippe Starck.
The other site is the Poterie du Don near Entraygues-sur-Truyere where Suzy Atkins makes and showcases her work and she also exhibits potters from around the world. Even the building won awards for its design.
The centre of the region focusses around the market town of Rodez, an important regional centre.
Other highlights here include Najac - a most beautiful village as well as a bastide town. Other bastides in the area are Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Villefranche de Rouergue, La Bastide l'Eveque, Rieupeyroux and Villeneuve d'Aveyron. All these towns are quite quiet and have their own particular highlights.
The village of La Couvertoirade is north of Lodève in the Aveyron department, in the extensive Regional Natural Parc des Grands Causses which occupies much of south-eastern Aveyron. Open hilltops, rolling countryside, and craggy rocks and cliffs best denote this attractive region, centred around Millau. A good starting point for your explorations is around Montjaux (a few kilometres west of Millau).
The parc changes in characteristics as you cross it - very broadly passing from steep forested slopes and valleys, to the red landscapes of the 'rougiers', on to the 'avant-causses and the emergence of the rocky landscapes, then onto to the four causses themselves - high altitude plateaus with great gorges and rock formations and many very scenic locations.
There are numerous small villages scattered throughout the region, many with their own particular appeal. Among the most attractive are Peyre, Severac-le-Chateau and Brousse-le-Chateau. Be sure to see also the renowned new architectural masterpiece - the highest road bridge in the world at Millau Bridge. A consequence of the tourist activity around the bridge is that the town of Millau is also now a popular travel destination.
Note that Rodez airport is a popular arrival point for visitors to Aveyron.
See a list of all Aveyron communes
Map of Aveyron
French version: Aveyron (Francais)