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I want to express my delight and complete satisfaction with a recent tour in the “province” of Aveyron, a relatively undiscovered jewel of France which contains an abundance of cultural and aesthetic attractions to please the seasoned traveler. For those with leisure to combine a cosmopolitan stopover in Paris with bucolic serenity and Medieval wonders—or for those who have already seen Paris—Aveyron has much to offer. The combination of sweeping natural beauty, indescribably picturesque villages, and ancient architectural treasures will provide a lifetime of happy memories and offers a welcome change from more-touristed itineraries. Véronique, our “hostess” (too bubbly and affable to be called a tour-guide), delighted to share the hospitality of her cheerfully renovated home and squire us through the length and breadth of Aveyron. The people are quite friendly and approachable: I recall one proud villager inviting us into his home to view his collection of antique motorcycles (he must have had more than 50).
Afternoons would be spent exploring other remarkable sites with dinner at around 7 or 8pm. Particularly alluring to me was the multitude of ancient churches, castles and village architecture which recalled both the simplicity and dangers of Medieval times. And while we saw about a dozen of these incomparable villages, there was ample variety and an assortment of other attractions. Museums, dinner at local farmers’ market, wine tastings, a comprehensive visit to a working farm and &mdash my personal favorite &mdash a tour of the Roquefort cheese caves are just a few of the treats in store for the Aveyron adventurer. My final thoughts: wear comfortable shoes, enjoy the local wines and try the aligot… this is a trip I will remember with pleasure."
~ Tom Mockler, New York, U.S.A.
Heather Walter and Patrick McCloskey
Quelle belle visite en Aveyron!
My husband and I love international travel, and Véronique has found an ideal niche for people like us. Experience (my) France gave us the opportunity to explore the back roads of an unsung region of France with someone who knows the area intimately and could take us off the beaten path—in true French style!
Véronique, as host, was terrific. She not only knows the towns and countryside, but also many interesting people, like vintners and other local producers. She’s even related to one of them! It made such a difference to have her as our guide, translator and fellow traveller. She opened doors for us in a way we could never have experienced otherwise.
The towns we visited were incredibly picturesque, and often situated in beautiful or dramatic landscapes. From our base in Baraqueville (handily located in the centre of Aveyron), we were able to take day trips to every part of the region. We were struck by how varied the landscape was from one corner to the other. Every day was a new and aesthetically rich treat whether we were exploring medieval villages, ancient sites, artisans’ studios or natural wonders like the Roquefort caves.
And every day we ate and drank the best that the region had to offer. Most afternoons we stopped in a scenic place for a delightful picnic of local wines and cheeses, sausages and pâtés. In the evenings we would dine at a different restaurant, or occasionally gather with locals at a weekly producers’ market in a village square. The food was delicious, with many regional specialties. We made it our personal mission to try everything.
We have never been drawn to large organized group tours, so the idea of travelling with a maximum of six people was very appealing. It allowed for some flexibility and down-time in the itinerary, which was great. And one of the amazing things about this trip was how few other tourists we saw—and no tour buses!
We loved our visit to Aveyron, and we would whole-heartedly recommend it to any other independent-minded travellers."
~ Heather Walter and Patrick McCloskey, Canmore, Alberta, Canada.
My tour of Aveyron
I spent 10 lovely days with Véronique, exploring the Aveyron. Aveyron has 10 of the official “most beautiful villages of France” and we visited 9 of them—and several other villages that were at least as pretty. Old castles on the hilltops with stone houses clustered at the base, winding old streets, flower pots and hanging baskets, old bridges over small or large rivers, large and small churches…the Aveyron has lots of them!
It was interesting to cross the pilgrim’s path from time to time—we saw walkers with their sticks in the towns on the route from Puy to the Spanish Camino. Some towns like Conques have relied on tourists [called pilgrims!] for centuries. Apart from the pilgrims and an occasional busload, there were few other tourists on our track. There were plenty of people around, though, at the markets, an art fair, sitting in squares or street corners. In some towns there were quirky decorations described as “Land art”. Being in France, of course we ate well.
Véronique's house is simple but comfortable. Baraqueville itself is a rather ordinary town, but excellently placed for travel all over Aveyron. And on market day, the market comes right up to the front door of Véronique’s house.
Véronique grew up in the area and has explored it further, so her knowledge of places is amazing. She is a good driver and has an amazing ability to find her way along the twisting roads. she also seems to know the most interesting street corners in every town. The tour was altogether a great experience...
~ Effie Best, Adelaide, Australia
Susan Jacobs and David Rowbottam
Enjoy the experience of living at the French pace of life in one of France’s most diversified départments. Véronique will guide you through the weekly markets and small towns with their festivals, showcasing their way of life. From a comfortable home base near Rodez in Aveyron, visit Roman ruins and the towns and castles built since. A unique experience with the opportunity to wine and dine on the local produce, including a visit to the world famous Roquefort cheese caves. Véronique can also tailor your itinerary if you have a special interest; a most enjoyable way to see a very interesting part of France.
~ Susan Jacobs and David Rowbottam, Perth, Australia
Thank you Véronique for a most memorable vacation. Some of my favourite memories of Aveyron are of being driven through the department on tiny back roads that I would NEVER have found, driving from one small village to another to find an amazing vista, or castle or lunch. I think of the towns by the food we ate there. Duck in Estaing, aligot in Najac, mushroom filled pastries in Marcillac. The villages are ancient and magnificent and full of history that Véronique really knows well.
Véronique knows Aveyron so very well and is eager and excited to show it off. We got exactly what we were looking for, an insider’s view of that part of France. And we were the only ones there. Virtually everywhere we went we found few other tourists, and sometimes we were the only ones at a site.
This was in the beginning of July. I was especially impressed with our accommodations. That big, beautiful, bright house in Baraqueville was comfortable and very homey. It was certainly not a hotel, but Véronique’s home of which she is justifiably proud. After 10 days in Aveyron we felt we had had an adventure, found a treasure, and made a good friend.
Thank you Véronique. I really did love to Experience your France.
~ Richard Rigaux, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
We had never thought to go on an organized tour of another country. Not for us the regimental time clock, but this was a stay with someone who knew the country and we would see it from her perspective.
We had such a good time! Véronique was such a great hostess! She was a competent guide and really fun to be around.
We loved our room with the windows wide open and no screens!
I was told by someone before I went to France that I would starve, but no...that was not the problem, we had so much to eat.
Our favourite...sitting on the terrace in the restaurant in Estaing and eating roast duck. We had wine, and amazing duck and fabulous weather and wondered why we don't have this more often. And then there was the amazing view from the café in Conques, and the first aligot eaten overlooking the valley in Najac.
And markets! Loved the amazing variety of the markets, and in Villefranche de Rouergue, eating at the night market.
Véronique knew her restaurants and their food and where the best Roquefort was to be found.
All in all an excellent trip, highly recommended.
~ Anita Rigaux, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
A really personal experience of Aveyron, a region of France I had never heard of. You know so much of its history which you impart so well.
This tour was to be a subjection to the French language to me as well as anything else. I felt overwhelmed sometimes but I did improve my understanding of it. I must continue in order to improve.
I think David coming for some time was really pleasant too.
Bonne chance et nous gardons le contact.
~ Wendy, Alberta, Canada
You made this 10-day experience a very special moment, with your bubbly personality and verve.
Thank you for sharing your lovely home and meaningful experiences with us, as well as your love for this beautiful part of France.
May God bless you and your family with joys and laughter that only a loving and united family is blessed with.
~ Pauline Hoche, Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.A.
Thank you very much for looking after me so well —just three days, but a chance for me to visit with Wendy, see your beautiful place and countryside, and enjoying your hospitality.
I've been spoiled, I will find it all then more difficult to return to the Camino as a result —but the memories will help keep me going.
~David Colpitts, Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Thank you for making my stay with you so enjoyable.
I feel that you took me as a friend besides, taking me on a tour around your loved area of Aveyron.
This has been one of the best experiences of my traveling life.
I will always remember this wonderful meandering with you!
~Sharon Leong, Oakland, California, U.S.A.