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Aveyron Facts

- Surface area:
- Elevation:
  144 m (472 ft.) to
   1,463 m (4799 ft.)
- Land use:
  Farming, 59%
   Forest, 30%
- Population:
  roughly 280,000
- Population density:
  Aveyron 31/km2
   France: 112/km2
- The highest density of
   paved roads in all of
  66,600 kms!!


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Espalion is located on one of the great pilgrim paths of Santiago de Compostella.

The "Pont-Vieux", is the most famous monument of the town. It's built of pink sandstone. A parchment from Conques Abbey shows that it already existed in 1060. Many times altered, it long boasted three towers, twenty-odd shops and a drawbridge. The Lord of Calmont levied a toll for the upkeep of the bridge. Closed to traffic, it is still used today to let go of herds of cattle. This cattle passage is also known as "transhumance", herds go then graze the Aubrac mountains, at the end of May each year.
The "Place du Griffoul", was the main square of the town. “Griffoul” means fountain. The square has been altered since the Medieval times; the building of a new bridge, "Pont Neuf", houses removal on the banks of the Lot River, between the two bridges, and the building of the "Quai Henri Affre". On the right bank of the Lot, between the two bridges, one can see the old tanneries (“calquières”) and picturesque houses, with corbelling and wooden balconies. The flat stones, jutting out, called “gandouliers”, were used to wash the hides. The staircase lay-out enabled the hides to be immersed, whatever the level of the water.
The "Vieux Palais", is a Renaissance castle –built in 1572. You will appreciate its mullion windows, its corner turret and its “loggia” overlooking the Lot River.
Le Foirail”, is an old cattle market, the ideal place to get a special view of the "Pont-Vieux" and the “Vieux-Palais” reflecting in the waters of the Lot River.
The “Chapelle de la Confrérie des Pénitents”, built in 1700, out of stones of the "Pont-Vieux", has its facade decorated with a modest portal, a curvilinear pediment and an oculus.
The “Place du Puits”, an elegant Renaissance period building, was the birthplace of Pierre Assézat. He made fortune in the trade of pastel-dye. He had built, at Toulouse, the sumptuous Assézat Renaissance Hôtel.
The old church of St-Jean, whose construction began at the end of the 15th century, was built on the site of the hospice of the town. It served the parishioners until 1883. It then became the Town Hall until 1948. In 1978 it became the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions new house.
Photo by Claude GeourjonThe Joseph Vaylet Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions presents a traditional Rouergat interior of the 19th century (“cantou”, scullery and furniture collection) as well as a rich collection of bedside wash-stands.
The Diving Museum has been created around the inventions of Rouquayrol and Denayrouze (both locals) who, in 1864, invented the first modern autonomous diving machine in the history of diving. The first trials were carried out in the Lot River. Numerous rare, indeed unique pieces are exhibited and attract specialists from all over the world. 
The Perse Church is a jewel of Roman art dating back to the ninth century. Built of pink sandstone in the town’s cemetery, it is located on the pilgrim path of Santiago de Compostella. Long a parish church, then the town spread towards the west around the bridge.