Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, located at the bottom of the rock of Combalou, and awarded "Site Remarquable du Goût" —exceptional taste location—, is a unique village. Here, and only here, in the caves' depth, is ripened the world-wide known Roquefort cheese.
Roquefort is located in the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park. With only 679 souls, and an altitude of 630 m. (2066 ft.), this village clings precariously to the side of the Combalou Rock in the South of Larzac.
Roquefort seems to be peaceful, but it's also an industrial village; around a thousand people work to ripen the famous Roquefort cheese. Tradition dates back to a thousand years, and the secret is well kept at the depths of its natural caves. Those caves are directly laid out in the slide rock of Combalou.
Origins of the Lacaune sheep breed
1927 video excerpt
The Lacaune sheep breed is mainly a milk one. This breed was born thanks to both cooperation between breeders and various inbreedings of the local sheep breeds form Larzac, Camarès, the Causses and Rodez. It gets its name from the administrative centre of a county situated at the heart of the Monts de Lacaune, in the département du Tarn.
The Lacaune sheep breed forms almost of all the livestock on the territory.
The Lacaune ewe is fully adapted to the terroir and producers managed to impose the best quality. This sheep breed has imposed its qualities to become the only milk producer ewe whose milk is used to make the cheese of Roquefort.
Today, 800,000 ewes form the milk herd all around Roquefort, in the Rayon de Roquefort. The lactation period lasts six months, from January to June.
In the Rayon de Roquefort, there are 2,244 milk ovine farms. They form the first link of the chain. Sheep breeders are very involved in the activity of this territory; they share with you their passion for their work which is at the same time ancestral and modern.
Some farms produce the milk for the Roquefort industry. Others transform it in their own cheese dairy to make pérails or tommes.
Leather and skins
Since the XIIth century, around Millau
–at the heart of the birthplace of the sheep breed- the work of lambskins has been an ancient tradition.
The Lacaune ewes get shaved once a year, in spring, and produce one kilo -2.2lb- of very thin and white wool. This wool was spinned and cautiously rolled as balls or hanks. This is the meticulous work that some artisans have been perpetuating since generations.
The word tawery points out the tanning of small skins of sheep, lambs and goats. They are thin and soft skins. The thinness of skins tanned in Millau
has an international reputation in the haute-couture
When they go out from the tawery, the skins are ready to be cut and transformed, in particular into gloves. The glover artisan selects the skins which will be transformed into gloves according to the size, colour, grain, thinness and softness. He cuts and works the different elements in the leather with tools. Those tools are characteristic of his craft and are called for example the “iron hand” or the “hot hand”; the last one is an implement on which the glove is stood up to take the shape. Millau
glove-makers supply the companies like Poulain, Hermès, Montana, or Yves Saint-Laurent... in Paris. Fashion designers are especially fond of this sophisticated skin.