A relaxing road trip through the French Countryside that begins by crossing the Millau bridge, and entering the Aveyron department, in order to arrive to one of the most isolated and least populated lands in French territory, and one of the great natural parks in France: the Aubrac. Enjoying kilometers of nature and many cows, we will arrive at the medieval city of Figeac.
Viaducte du Millau, un inicio espectacular de roadtrip
To enter the Aveyron region when coming from the south of France on the A75 motorway, you have to cross a monument, the Millau. Viaduct A fascinating moment to admire this work of modern engineering up close.
Once you cross the bridge, and if you have time, we recommend you stop at what in France they call “Aire”, a rest area, to eat, go to the bathroom, and generally find out about the tourist attractions in the area.
The Aire del Viaducte de Millau is particularly attractive, since, among other things, you can reach a Belvedere that allows you to have a spectacular view of the Viaduct. In the main building, you can eat, and watch videos about what the region has to offer, presented inside a spectacular stone building.
In one of the rooms, you can see some models of the bridge and a video that explains the construction of the viaduct.
After the Aire de Millau, a little further on continuing on the A75, you will be able to admire on the right, the mountainous formations of the Grandes Causses Natural Park. If you have time to stop a little longer in this area, you can visit the Caves of Roquefort.
Further up you will change departments for a few kilometers and enter the Department of Lozère. Where we delight in its dense vegetation and its large trees.
One of the Biggest Natural Parks In France:The Aubrac Regional Park
At exit 38 of the A75, we take via Nasbinals for the D900. Initially, we are surrounded by a little forest, but a few kilometers later we begin to see some incredible grazing meadows, and many, many cows. The meadows are divided by low walls made of clusters of gray stones, which make the landscape spectacular and incredibly beautiful. The fields are lost in infinity, and you only see some large rustic houses very occasionally.
The landscape is amazing, and for a moment the infinite green and the rocks reminded us of the typical Scottish landscapes.
After a point called Marchastel and before a tiny town called Montgros, there is a stone bridge that crosses the Bès River. The GR65 hiking path passes right through here.
The way to Santiago . The GR65
GR in French means Grande Randonnée (great hike). The GR65 is one of the main French hiking routes on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
This stage starts in Puy-en-Velai and ends in Figeac, and takes between 10 and 12 days. Even if you are not doing the Camino de Santiago, you can take this hiking route to enjoy the Aubrac landscapes.
The landscape around the bridge completely fascinated us, with the river and the meadows, they make a perfect combination, it is a place where you have to absolutely stop for some photos. Here, you will also find a space to park if you want to do part of the hiking route, as we did.
Further on we come to Nasbinals, with its classic houses in the area, with gray slate roofs. Very pretty and characteristic. This can be a point to stock up, if you need to buy some things, or put gas.
We continue our way to Saint-Chély-D’Aubrac, where we had previously located a “Buron” to eat meat and the traditional aligot.
From a distance we can see the small town of Saint-Chély d’Aubrac. The church’s dark stone bell tower can be seen in the distance and contrasts with the deep green landscape. The vision of the town before arriving is magnificent.
Without knowing it, we arrive at a town famous for people who walk the GR65, where they often stop for lunch, and then continue hiking.
We ate at Buron de L’Aubrac, there were a couple of other places open, but we wanted to eat in a traditional place. We ate on the terrace, we had a wonderful day, and we could admire the fields and cows in the distance, from the terrace.
The options on the menu are quite limited, but for us who wanted meat and aligot, they were more than enough. The meat was of exceptional quality, fresh and soft, you can really enjoy a great local product. For the Aligot, a guy comes over with a big saucepan and malaxes a bit, stretching out a good chunk of aligot to a little less than a meter high, to show off his springy point and give us a nice show every time he served someone. If you are very hungry, you can ask to be served again.
After eating you can take one of the hiking trails and burn calories. Or simply sunbathe in a kind of square that overlooks the meadows, right in front there is a small botanical garden open to the public. The town is small but very lively and very welcoming.
Short Stopover : LAGUIOLE
From St Chèly d’Aubrac we traveled about 20 km until we reached Laguiole, a famous village in France for the manufacture of artisan knives with the name of the village.
In fact, the town is full of shops where they sell these famous knives, and just outside, there are a couple of points where they are manufactured and that allow visitors, and have a sale of these items. Attention, they are high quality knives, but they have a high price. Prices can easily start at €100 per knife.
Apart from the Laguiole knives we did not find it to be a particularly interesting town, but it is pretty and can be considered as a stopover, take a look at the shops, and visit if you like the Private Laguiole Knife Museum, the town also has an interesting viewpoint that should not be left aside if you go through there. From there there is a nice view over the valley.
A glance of The Medieval times : Figeac
Figeac is a small city, located in the Lot department in southwestern France. On the way to this city you will be able to admire small medieval towns that seem to come out of a story.
In fact, if you stay in Figeac you can use it as a starting point to visit many small towns considered to be one of the most beautiful in France. Among them: Capdenac-le-Haut, Marcilhac, Saint Cirq Lapopie, Rocamadour, Autoire, Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie, Cardaillac… It is also easy to admire medieval castles and the Lot riverbed from the roads.
An exceptional hotel: The Mercure Figeac Viguier du Roy
Initially, we decided to stay in Figeac because we found a hotel there that seemed to meet our expectations and that in the end far exceeded them: the Mercure Viguier du Roy
This hotel is inside a historic building from medieval times, despite being in the heart of the center of Figeac, the structure is quite large because this place is not just an accommodation, it is a visit in itself. Inside there are beautiful gardens and medieval halls that transport you to another era.
They have a restaurant that deserves to be tried, where we enjoyed an elegant dinner in one of the historic rooms, with a menu full of excellent local ingredients, and excellent service.