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In Aveyron, in southern France, you’ll discover a region that’s truly authentic, fairy tale pretty and has oodles of charm, a land that time forgot…

Fairy-tale Aveyron

Ever since Peter Mayle put Provence on the tourist map, tourists have led a long procession to enjoy its charms but there is another south of France, a land that hasn’t been discovered by the hordes. Unspoiled, uncrowded and irresistibly pretty, Aveyron is hardly known outside of France.

There are great hiking and cycling routes, horse riding, kayaking and more. And this area is blessed with some of the most beautiful villages in France, the most glorious countryside and the tastiest food. Roquefort cheese is produced in the area, it’s truffle country, and dishes are flavoursome, rustic and utterly delicious.

Traffic free roads, the Millau bridge, marvellous markets and ancient towns and villages galore – this isn’t a region to be rushed but savoured and soaked up…

Must-sees in Aveyron ancient Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route

The jewel of the region is Conques, a captivating town on the ancient and most celebrated of pilgrim routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela. Conques is famous for its UNESCO listed 11th century Saint-Foy abbey church which has an ornate interior and is filled with treasures including stained glass windows by Pierre Soulages, France’s most famous living artist. The pilgrim's bridge that crosses the Dourdou River is also UNESCO listed as part of the World Heritage Sites (Route to Santiago de Compostela through France).

Rodez museum – an artist and a chef create a winning, inspirational combination at Rodez Museum. Pierre Soulages, internationally renowned artist, shows more than 500 works. Take a break in the museum restaurant where food meets art as 3 Michelin Star chef Michel Bras creates dishes that are themselves works of art.

Belcastel with its medieval castle is a “plus beaux villages de France” and is quite astoundingly beautiful, with the gentle tumble of water from the River Aveyron in the background and its steep, cobbled streets leading up to the castle. If you’ve got the time, have lunch at the Vieux Pont (a Michelin star restaurant in the village) and then walk off your indulgences with the climb (and it really is a climb) up to the castle.

Najac, one of the most beautiful villages in France…

Head to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, one of the region’s five 13th century “new concept” bastide towns with a distinctly southern feel. Every Thursday morning the rather sleepy town bursts into vibrant life as the market fills the main square, Place Notre Dame. Fruit, veg, spices, sticky sweets, warm breads and patisseries, herbs, flowers, meats slow turning on the spit and vast pans of steaming shell fish, all teasing and tempting you into the many backstreets where the market spills out to.

This is the France you imagine in your dreams, with ancient and impossibly gorgeous villages, magnificent houses, chateaux and churches that date back a thousand years. Here the culture of France is laid before you, wonderful local produce and authentic dishes, delicious wines from the local vineyards, historic buildings, arts and crafts and the nurturing of traditions.

French Connections has dozens of beautiful holiday homes in Aveyron – we love to help you make your holiday dreams come true…