Perched on its peak at 627 metres above sea level, Rodez overlooks the course of the river Aveyron.
The city is located in the centre of the département — similar in size to a county — of which it is the capital, between Conques up north and the Millau viaduct south, making it ideally situated for discovering all the riches of the Aveyron.
The city was founded by the Ruteni, a Celtic people and the inhabitants of Rodez — called Ruthénois — have inherited their name.
Known in latin as Segodunum, the Roman conquest brought a vast array of public monuments and buildings whose memory is preserved in the Fenaille Museum to this day.
In the Middle Ages, the city was divided into two districts each defended by its own walls, known respectively as the Bourg and the Cité.
Headed by the Counts of Rodez, the Bourg welcomed the great trade fairs of the age upon which it built its prosperity. Many houses built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries still testify to the wealth of certain merchant families.
Opposite the Bourg, the Cité stretches to the foot of the Notre-Dame cathedral (built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries). It was administered by the bishops of Rodez who were jealous of the economic power acquired by the lords - consequently the rivalry between the Bourg and the Cité grew deeper as time passed. However the Hundred Years' War put an end to the conflicts when the two communities were united against the English behind a single city wall. Restored and maintained until the seventeenth century, this imposing barrier was destroyed at the end of the eighteenth century, leaving the city free to expand.
One can also admire the 16th century Cartusian monastery, now converted as the French National Stud Farm, the Fenaille museum which boasts a unique in Europe collection of standing stones (statue-menhirs).
Right around Rodez, and now part of what's called the Grand Rodez are small communities with treasures; Sainte-Radegonde, a fortified 14th century church, Le Monastère and its old bridge, Sébazac-Concourès with an 18th century castle, and its geological curiosity, a 47 m swallow-hole in the limestone plateau with an underground river, Onet-le-Château and its inposing 15th century castle.