Bienvenue en Aveyron
Along some 200 kilometres from north to south, Aveyron unrolls its contrasts, straddling torrents, prairies. Located at the crossroads of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, just south-west of the Massif Central. Aveyron is part of the region known as Midi-Pyrénées — not to confuse with Avignon though or even Lubéron which is in Provence.
It's a place where the north and south winds meet, bringing influences from both the mountains and the "Midi". But history's alchemy has modelled a strong identity, as if to better marry the contrasts that show its wealth.
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A land of the past and the future
Factories producing car parts have taken their place beside the more traditional industries of Aveyron, in recent decades.
Laguiole (pronunced [lajɔl]), forges its world-known knifes still, while Millau has its name attached to haute-couture gloves, and now as well to the tallest bridge in the world.
From the crests of the Lévézou to the plateaus of Saint-Affrique, ewes' milk are used for Roquefort cheese.
While Séguala's calves, and Aubrac's cows are grazing on plateaus' slopes, pilgrims are passing by, thus following ancestral paths towards Santiago de Compostella.
Aveyron prepares its future, as well as anchors its renewed success, nonetheless through respect for its natural and architectural heritage.
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Good to know; Aveyron boasts more than any other department in France! There are ten (yes 10), "plus Beaux Villages de France" located only in Aveyron. Namely Belcastel, Conques, Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, Sainte-Eulalie d'Olt, Najac, Brousse-le-Château, La Couvertoirade, Estaing, St-Côme d'Olt, and Peyre.
It’s as if Mother Nature had singled out this part of the world for special treatment, showering the Aveyron with far more than its fair share of her riches.
Natural riches that the people of the Aveyron have cultivated over the centuries; weaving them into the fabric of their cultural heritage. So don’t make the mistake of rushing through the Aveyron en route to the beaches of the south or the cities of the north. Instead, take the time to stop and catch your breath. Take the time to experience the rich flavours of the Aubrac and Larzac plateaus; the abundant plant life; the rich verdant valleys; the redearth lands of the Rouergue, charged with history.
Relax beside its peaceful lakes and tumbling rivers. Run your hands over stones shaped by long-departed masons, and feel the marks that history has left on every châteaux, every farm, every village. Aveyronnais cuisine is world-renowned, and this is truly a gourmet’s paradise. The mouthwatering flavours of award-winning locally reared lamb, beef and veal, authentic cheeses and market stalls full of garden-fresh vegetables.
Aligot: a rich creamy purée of potatoes, "tome" cheese and a hint of garlic prepared in enormous cauldrons by men armed with huge wooden paddles and even larger biceps. Signature dish of the Aveyron, its simple warming richness seems to define the spirit of the region and its people. And look out for stockfish or "estofinado" – a dish of salt cod that brought the taste of the sea so many miles inland in the days before refrigeration. Alongside this wealth of traditional dishes, the modern Aveyron menu has ample space for the innovative creations of its talented young chefs who understand that the best food will always be based on the best local produce. The perfect place for a gastronomic get-away.
Aveyron is a land of a myriad of small villages and it is in their narrow streets and busy market squares that you’ll find the true spirit of the region – little wonder that ten of the "plus beaux villages de France" are here. As you travel across the Aveyron, you’ll notice that the roofs of the village houses change considerably from north to south bearing witness to changing demands of the elements. From the sturdy iridescent "lauze" of the north that changes colour with the light to the terracotta tiles of the south. A rich diversity of styles that has evolved over the centuries; where the medieval sits comfortably alongside the modern. Where the need to bridge a chasm becomes an opportunity to construct a thing of beauty.
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