On the Aubrac plateau, through the forests or alongside the lakes scattered all over the region, the trails here are an invitation to sightseeing and to the pace of life that goes with it. You can look forward to some great experiences: Laguiole, perched on a hilltop, suddenly appearing as you turn the bend. Estaing, ranked as one of the most beautiful towns in France, as well as Lake Selves (also known as Lake Maury and Lake Saint-Amans-des-Cots) or Lake Sarrans. And take your time, on foot, on horseback or even by bike – Aubrac is a paradise for hikers.
A large number of paths and trails can be found, and in this part of Aveyron, many campsites cater for this leisure activity. The GR 65 is one of the trails. Rich in history, it is one of the most famous paths along the Way of Saint-James, beginning in Le Puy-en-Velay and ending (for the French part) in Saint Jean Pied de Port. It goes through some magnificent areas with religious edifices that are often out of all proportion to the number of local inhabitants, as in Espalion, Conques, where the abbey has been welcoming pilgrims for centuries, Golinhac, Estaing on the left bank of the River Lot or Decazeville.
Fun in the water
And if you prefer the water to hiking trails, you’ll also find what you’re looking for with beautiful rivers and mountain streams to descend, interesting lakes where you can hoist your sails, and not forgetting a chance to try out all kinds of fishing techniques. Added to this is some of the richest plant life in Europe, and generous nature, with perhaps a sighting of a deer or a fox or the sound of the roar of a stag…
Our gourmet friends
But here, too, you are sure to stock up on some reserves: in this region with its pastoral tradition, a good deal of the gastronomy is based on ingredients such as Aubrac beef or cheeses, including Laguiole (AOC). One of the most famous specialities is aligot. Originally, it was made from bread and cheese by monks in Aubrac for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James. For folks from north of the Loire, Aligot is just mashed potatoes with some cheese in it. How wrong they are! It is actually made from potatoes that are lovingly blended with fresh tomme cheese. Aligot is the typical dish in Aubrac. It is delicious served with sausage, a nice piece of Aubrac beef or a leg of lamb.
More stuff of nutritionists’ nightmares is the truffade (slices of potato and cheese) or encalat tart (fromage blanc tart). Bearing in mind that in Aveyron in general and Aubrac in particular, some of France’s best charcuterie is made, food lovers will only be too happy to have chosen this region for their holiday. In Aveyron, too, you will find the wines of Marcillac or Entraygues le Fel. These are wines to drink with friends – fruity and often quite full-bodied wines to serve with charcuterie or nice grilled meat.
The knife of legend
Once a working knife carried in a farmer’s pocket, the Laguiole is today one of the symbols of the region, a collectors’ item, with versions created by designers such as Starck. It is above all a vital tool for all food lovers, who never set off on a picnic or a snack without it. The Laguiole, the real one, is made in Laguiole, but also in Thiers, the knife capital. If you are tempted by one of these beautiful objects, you should know that prices start around €70. For anything less, it’s quite likely that the little bee on the knife… was born in China.
When are you coming?
Aubrac is one of the French regions you can visit almost all the year round. Only the winter is somewhat less interesting, especially because of all the wolves on the roads. Only joking. But in winter, the campsites are not open. In spring, on the other hand, quite a lot of them are all ready to welcome guests. Come and see nature awakening. For us, the end of summer is the best time of year to visit this little piece of paradise, when the weather is still warm. The campsites are still open and the prices are lower. But you should come to Aubrac above all in autumn, with the guarantee of a feast for the eyes and a real fireworks display in nature, and the chance to experience one of those moments of simple happiness that do the spirit good.