The Aveyron is in the rugged Midi- Pyrénées region in the south where the natural landscape is so extremely rich and the scenery so spectacular that it takes your breath away. Wild moorland, vast lakes, rolling hills, rivers, waterfalls, fertile valleys and the most dramatic gorges this side of Arizona is here in the Aveyron. Deep valleys alternate with eerie and vast limestone plateaus, peat bogs, and hot springs. Some of Aveyron's caves are big enough to shelter the Rodez cathedral. Forests and woodland that shelter deer and wild boar; fields strewn with poppies, narcissi and wild orchids; skies where kites, kestrels, eagles and even vultures fly free this is area is the land that time forgot.
Here are a thousand castles, more than a thousand megalithic tombs, innumerable Gallo-Roman ruins, and some of the most remarkable Romanesque architecture in Europe, as well as Norman Foster's architectural marvel, the Millau Viaduct—the world's tallest bridge and an unmatched feat of engineering.
Apart from exploring this amazing area it is also a popular area for white water sports such as kayaking and river rafting. There are 4 rivers here from the Tarn, Dourbie, Lot and Aveyron and each river provides a different approach. On the Lot and Aveyron, you can peacefully drift pass some lovely village such as Espalion, Estaing and Hajac to name a few. If you want more of an adrenaline rush then venture onto the Tarn and the Dourbie which are two crystal clear rivers. At the heart of the gorges these are perfect for white water rafting.
There are some beautiful villages in this area and listed below are some that are definitely worth a visit for beauty, history or excellent markets.
St. Antonin Noble Val is a pretty medieval town on the banks of the River Aveyron that may look familiar to those who saw the Charlotte Gray film with Cate Blanchett as much of the filming took place here. Saint Antonin Noble Val is the oldest town town in the Rouergue and Quercy region and takes its name from the early evangelist Saint Antonin, who introduced Christianity to the area. It is a town which still retains an atmosphere of the Middle Ages. The town hall built in 1125 is an early example of civil architecture in France and now houses the Museum. The beautiful old house fronts and shops bear witness to a wealth of history. There is a good market on Sunday selling local produce, bric-a-brac and textiles and pavement cafes.
Najac is situated south of Villefranche-de-Rouergue and is one of the most atmospheric villages of the region. The views from the main town square looking westwards along the rocky ridge on which the town is built are incredibly photogenic. And the walk to the château is memorable. There are there lots of shops and also several first-class restaurants.
Villefranche De Rouergue is a wonderful old fortified town where Occitan is still spoken in parts. It is situated on a bend in the Aveyron River and is the largest market town in the region. The Thursday market in the beautiful arcaded market square is popular for miles around and definitely worth a visit. On the east side of the square is the church of Notre-Dame which has some lovely 15th century stained glass.
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