Visits not to be missed in the Lot, Aveyron and Lozere
. The Regional Natural Parks of Grands Causses, Causses du Quercy and Aubrac
It's called being spoiled by nature! Lot, Aveyron and Lozère are part of three of the most beautiful regional natural parks in France, and Lozère is also part of the Cevennes National Park. Occupying all the southern part of Aveyron, the Regional Natural Park of Grands Causses with its grandiose landscapes (Causse du Larzac, Causse Noir, Rougier de Camarès, lakes of Lévézou, Gorges du Tarn) is the country of the ewe and of the agropastoralism, a unique know-how in the world distinguished by Unesco Classified as a Unesco World Geopark, the Regional Natural Park of the Causses du Quercy (Lot), dazzles with its geological and paleontological heritage made of caves, chasms, canyons and green valleys of the Lot and the Célé. As for the Aubrac Regional Natural Park, straddling Aveyron, Lozère (and Cantal), it brings a feeling of being at the edge of the world with its steep and wild landscapes. A great way to disconnect on foot, by bike or on horseback.
. The Gorges of the Tarn
Located between Lozère and Aveyron, in the Cevennes National Park, the Gorges du Tarn are a breathtaking natural site, one of the most spectacular landscapes in France to be explored on foot, by car or ideally by canoe. Cliffs reaching 500 meters high, breaches, ledges and rocks... Between Quézac (in Lozère) and Le Rozier (in Aveyron), and more particularly Sainte Énimie-La Malène. An imposing display of approximately 50 km where you can paddle or simply put your towel down on a beach along the river for a swim in emerald waters.
. Cahors and the Lot valley
Major stopover on the way to Santiago de Compostela. City of Art and History with the two wonders classified by UNESCO: the Valentré Bridge (14th century), emblem of the city, and the Saint-Etienne cathedral, with its Byzantine style domes, Cahors is also the stronghold of the AOC Cahors, a great vineyard of Occitanie. Nearby, in the Lot valley, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Puy-L'Evêque are two villages not to be missed!
A sacred city between heaven and earth where pilgrims and tourists have flocked since the 13th century. In the Lot, Rocamadour is a medieval wonder, one of the most beautiful villages in France, hanging on the side of a cliff as if in equilibrium at 150 meters above a canyon. On foot or by elevator, one reaches the upper castle. From the top of this belvedere, a vertiginous panorama on the city and its surroundings, territory of the Regional Natural Park of Causses du Quercy, labeled Geopark World by UNESCO.
. The villages of the Dordogne Valley
Meanders bordered by cliffs and dense vegetation, islands of sand, small quiet pebble beaches... From Sousceyrac in the east to Souillac in the west, over a distance of about 60 kilometers, the Dordogne basin, classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, invites you to slow down. You can take advantage of this to visit towns and villages in the Lot, each more charming than the last: the bastide of Bretenoux, Saint-Céré dominated by the castle of Saint-Laurent-les-Tours (which houses the Jean Lurçat museum), but also Souillac and Gramat. Autoire, Loubressac, Martel and Carennac. Four villages classified among the most beautiful in France, are also not to be missed.
. Figeac, the merchant city
City of art and history, Figeac is a medieval town which was a flourishing merchant city, at the entrance of the Célé Valley. You can stroll between urban palaces and half-timbered houses, medieval stores and "soleilhos", these open granaries where fruits were dried. Near the Place des Ecritures, the house where Champollion, the most famous French Egyptologist, was born, now houses the magnificent Champollion-Les Ecritures du monde museum.
Clinging to the cliff, 100 m above the Lot, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie offers an unforgettable view, even more so when you reach it on foot from the banks of the river carved into the rock. Entirely classified as a historical monument, the village with its narrow streets, stairways, hidden passages, roofs covered with plum-colored Quercy tiles and craftsmen's shops is in perfect harmony.
. The chasm of Padirac
Journey to the center of the earth in the Lot like in a Jules Verne novel. At 103 meters deep, the Padirac chasm is one of the greatest geological curiosities in France. You can go there by boat on the underground river and on foot to admire its vast galleries (the one of the Grand Dôme is 94m high!) and monumental concretions, such as the Grande Pendeloque, a giant stalactite of 60 m.
. The cave of Pech Merle
In Cabrerets, a stone's throw from the beautiful Célé Valley in the Lot, Pech Merle is a cave with authentic prehistoric drawings, a masterpiece of European cave art dating back 30,000 years. On site, you can visit the Quercy Prehistory Museum which presents 350,000 years of human occupation in the region: from Neanderthal to Gaul.
Seen from afar, the capital of Aveyron seems to be levitating, emerging like a victorious fortress from the surrounding valleys. We take even more height by climbing to the bell tower of its splendid cathedral. From the top of its 87 meters, a 360° panorama of the countryside, the plateaus of Aubrac and the mountains of Lévézou gifted to visitors. Rodez also conceals a unique museum, the Soulages museum, with its contemporary architecture, its corten steel armor and its collection of works by the great French painter, Pierre Soulages, a native of the city and fascinated by the colour black.
Here is one of the most beautiful villages in France in Aveyron, a major stop on the Way to Santiago de Compostela. Forty five minutes from Rodez, in a magnificent natural environment, Conques is another 'Grand Site Occitanie', a small, thousand year old city bathed in a gentle spiritual atmosphere. You can visit the Treasure of Sainte-Foy in the heart of the abbey church, a masterpiece of Romanesque art whose 104 stained glass windows were created by Pierre Soulages.
. Millau and its viaduct
At the gateway to the Gorges du Tarn, Millau, a city of art and history, is the capital of glove-making in France. Celebrities and fashion designers, from Nicole Kidman to Dior to Daft Punk, all have a crush on the Millau glove! But the medieval city is also futuristic, renowned for its Viaduct. This highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, designed by architect Norman Foster, looks like a sailboat in the sky. The best way to admire it? A paragliding flight. Will you dare?
. The Abbey of Sylvanès
Founded in 1136 in a green setting not far from Millau, Sylvanès Abbey is a Cistercian jewel. A high place of spirituality and culture with the European label of Cultural Center of Meetings, it welcomes vocal art courses, concerts and numerous animations. In summer, the abbey organizes the very famous International Festival of Sacred and World Music.
. The Royal Fortress of Najac
Bastide perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Aveyron Gorges, the Royal Fortress of Najac is an extraordinary example of medieval military defense. This fortress was involved in the struggles against the Cathars and in the Hundred Years War. Perched 200 metres above the Aveyron gorges, it truly is an unforgettable view!
. Villefranche-de-Rouergue and the bastides of Aveyron
Villefranche-de-Rouergue, a royal bastide founded in 1252, like Najac, it is one of the many bastides in Occitania. A town created from scratch between the 12th and 14th centuries with a checkerboard plan. In Villefranche-de-Rouergue, the streets cut at right angles around the beautiful Notre-Dame square and its collegiate church surrounded by arcades and gothic houses.
Welcome to Laguiole, the capital of Aubrac. Perched on the plateau, at an altitude of 1000 m, in a wild and fascinating lunar landscape. You come here for its cutlery (one of which was designed by Philippe Stark) and to learn all about the making of the famous Laguiole knife, but also to smell, taste, savor and take away a small Laguiole. This delicious cheese with a controlled designation of origin, a specialty of Aubrac and still made according to ancestral know-how in the surrounding farms. For foodies and lovers of local cuisine, it is also in Laguiole that Sébastien Bras welcomes you to Le Suquet, his two-Michelin star restaurant.
In the heart of Lozère, between Margeride, Aubrac, Causses and Cévennes, Mende is the capital of Gévaudan, a city with a remarkable heritage. You have to climb to the top of the Saint-Privat cathedral bell tower for the extraordinary view and then find the beautiful private mansions in the alleys and on the squares of the historical center. On the banks of the Lot, the Notre-Dame bridge spans the river since the Middle Ages. Nearby, Javols, a Roman city, Marvejols, a royal city at the gates of Aubrac, Châteauneuf-de-Randon, the stronghold of Du Guesclin, or Chanac and its dungeon are worth a stop.
Nestled at the foot of the Méjean plateau, in the south of Lozère, Florac-Trois-Rivières enchants with its very natural atmosphere, between the Cevennes and the Gorges du Tarn, Mont Lozère and the Grands Causses. A meeting place for many hikers, the old Protestant bastion with its maze of narrow streets, picturesque vaulted passages and numerous workshops of craftsmen and art creators offers a pleasant break in the heart of spectacular landscapes of the Cevennes National Park.
. La Garde Guérin
Here is another one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France... La Garde-Guerin is a fortified medieval hamlet which dominates, from the top of its plateau, the impressive canyon of Chassezac. A former strategic site in Lozère on the Voie Régordane linking the Languedoc to the Massif Central, La Garde-Guérin was attacked several times but has kept its watchtower as well as its typical habitat and its stone-paved streets.
Experiences in the Lot, Aveyron and Lozere
. Walking with or without a donkey on the Stevenson paths
Alone, with family or friends, with or without a donkey, embark on a hike through the Cevennes, along the GR70 or Stevenson Trail. The Scottish writer, one of the pioneers of trekking opened the road in the 19th century with his donkey Modestine. On the program, for a weekend: nearly 50 kilometers of gentle roaming in Lozere in the footsteps of Robert-Louis Stevenson, from Pont-de-Montvert and its beautiful houses to Cassagnas, passing through Florac.
. Leave on the Chemins de Compostelle
Walking on the roads to Santiago de Compostela? Nothing could be easier in Occitania where the three major routes converge. For some beautiful stages, the Way of Puy-en-Velay called Via Podensis (GR 65) crosses Aveyron on 102 km in splendid sceneries (mounts of Margeride, immensities of Aubrac, light of Quercy) and offers two alternatives in the Lot, starting from Figeac, to reach Cahors through the bucolic Célé valley (Espagnac-Sainte Eulalie and its priory converted into a gite for pilgrims and walkers) or by making a dizzying detour to Rocamadour and its sanctuary.
. Introduction to trail running
For a race in nature, Lot, Aveyron and Lozere bring out the big game in terms of landscapes. Numerous courses are available. The Espace Trail Millau-Grands Causses offers 19 fully marked trails, from 9 to 120 km, with free access. To cross the Causse Noir or the famous plateau of Larzac, before plunging into the Gorges of Jonte or Tarn...
. Hike again and again
Stevenson's Way (or Grand Trail Stevenson) and Compostelle's Way... So much for the classics but many other GR and hiking trails are to be found in the Lot, Aveyron and Lozere. Why not, for example, head for the Grands Causses and the Gorges by following the path to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert? Or hike in the footsteps of Pope Urban V, a native of Lozere, or take the Régordane Trail? The thousand-year-old route of transhumance and crusades that takes you back in time in a beautiful way.
. Fill up on specialties on the beautiful local markets
Rodez, Figeac, Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Cahors, Mende. In all seasons, the towns and villages of the Lot, Aveyron and Lozère collect colorful and tasty farmers' markets. In Occitania, we love good food and you will be like a rooster in dough whether you taste farçous, foie gras, Aubrac beef, Quercy lamb, aligot, truffade, fouaces, honey, walnuts, roquefort or small cabecou from Rocamadour.
. Spinning aligot in Aubrac
For a good aligot, go to Aubrac and its wild high plateaus straddling the Lozère and Aveyron regions. Originally, aligot was a soup made of broth, bread and fresh cheese, served by the monks of Aubrac to pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The potatoes have since replaced the toast but the best aligot is still shared according to tradition in the burons, these small stone shepherds' houses of the Aubrac and Aveyron plateau. Far away from the world, in the middle of nature, you can enjoy your meal and you can even ask for lodging!
. Go down to the cellars of Roquefort
Roquefort, the king of cheeses and the oldest French AOC (1925), refines its secrets in the centuries-old cellars of the small village of Roquefort-sous-Soulzon in Aveyron. It is impossible to miss the visit or the tasting in these veritable underground cathedrals ventilated by the fleurines, cracks created by the collapse of the Combalou rock: they house thousands of Roquefort cheeses for maturing according to the rules of age-old know-how.
. Take to the sea in a canoe
There is no better way to take it easy in the Lot, Aveyron and Lozère than by paddling at your own pace on the many rivers that cross them. On the Tarn river, under the piles of the Millau viaduct, in the Aveyron Gorges, in the winding and charming Célé valley between the causses dotted with cazelles (small stone huts), on the Lot river (where you can also navigate on a houseboat) or on the Dordogne river between elegant castles, limestone cliffs, typical villages and pebble beaches. To your paddles and watch out!
. Sleeping under the stars
In the Lot, Aveyron and Lozere, the quality of the starry sky is exceptional. In the famous "black triangle of Quercy", the brightness of the stars is even total! Since 2018, the Cevennes National Park is labeled "International Dark Sky Reserve" (IDSR) and it is now the largest IDSR in Europe! Spend your nights with 1,000 stars in a mountain hut, a cabin in the woods or a cottage in the wilderness, far from the world.
. Putting on a pair of jeans in Florac
Since 1892, the Tuffery workshop in Florac has been making the oldest French jeans. Labelled as a living heritage company and concerned about the environment, the workshop produces its washes in an ecological way, finds its raw materials nearby and sells them in boxes made in Toulouse. Why don't you give it a try?
. Counting menhirs in Lozere
And yes, it is possible! With its 154 granite menhirs, the site of the Cham des Bondons in Lozère is the second largest concentration of megalithic monuments in Europe, after the Carnac alignments.
. Taste the truffle
Beautiful black truffles to sublimate dishes at the height of French gastronomy, you can find them in the Dordogne Valley, in the Lot and more particularly in Lalbenque, the undisputed capital of the black truffle of Quercy. Its market which takes place on Tuesday from December to March is not to be missed.
. Pedalling with views
The Aveyron Valley cycle route, the section of the Grande Traversée du Massif Central in Lozère (labeled "Vélo & fromages"), the loop around the Causse Méjean, the little Mongolia of Lozère. Lovers of cycling and mountain biking (including electrically-assisted cycling) can pedal to their heart's content on dozens of marked out cycle routes. And what a pleasure, after a beautiful day of cycling, to refresh oneself in the crystal clear waters of the Tarn or to share local specialities during a comforting dinner for two.
. Meet the beast of Gévaudan
Are you a wolf ? Yes, in the legendary land of the Beast of Gévaudan, observe in real life and in complete safety the wild residents of the animal park of the Wolves of Gévaudan in Saint-Léger-de-Peyre, 40 minutes from Mende.
Discover the wines of Cahors
Four thousand hectares of vineyards on both sides of the river Lot, punctuated by charming villages (special mention to the small medieval town of Puy-L'Evêque), beautiful churches and castles. Impossible to miss the AOC vineyard of Cahors, for the beauty of its landscapes and for its Cahors Malbec: this famous black wine with a strong character is to be discovered directly at the winegrowers, at the Espace Malbec Lounge.
. Sharing the life of shepherds
On the Larzac plateau in Lozere, you will come across huge flocks of sheep. Overlooking the Tarn Gorges, the Grands Causses and Cévennes territory, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is an example of a unique and secular pastoralism. For centuries, shepherds have shaped these vast expanses by creating natural water reservoirs (dolines) or built (lavognes). You can also admire old caussenard farms, sometimes fortified and vaulted sheepfolds. Visits are possible at the Domaine des Boissets in Sainte-Enimie or at the Ferme Caussenarde d'Autrefois in Hyelzas.
. Horseback riding in the Cevennes
The name of Florac is associated with a famous endurance horse race. The 160 km of Florac, organized in September since 1975. Several equestrian centers in the region offer horseback rides to discover this mythical itinerary, crossing some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Cevennes National Park.
Going to the Lot, Aveyron and Lozère, in Occitania