By Elaine Sciolino
September 22, 2015
La France Profonde
Credit: © Simon Watson


Mercure Rodez Cathédrale
Located in the historical city center of Rodez, the Mercure offers a warm welcome and features the stunning art-deco Le Broussy café, just steps from the Soulages Museum and Rodez Cathedral. Doubles from $108

Le Mas de Rigoulac
Ten minutes from Laguiole, this farm house dating back to 1860 is now a charming bed and breakfast and wellness center, including a hammam spa and seasonally heated outdoor pool. Bonus for weary travelers: the proprietor, Gilles Arnault, is the only licensed osteopath, masseur, and physical therapist at any hotel in the Aveyron. Doubles from $139

Moulin de Cambelong
In the village of Conques, Dominique and Hervé Busset run a 4-star hotel and a 1-Michelin star restaurant overlooking the Dourdou River. Doubles from $211

Restaurants & Cafés

Restaurant Isabelle Auguy
Elegant countryside fare and convivial service with a panoramic view of the Aubrac Mountains. Auguy, the owner-chef, is always there to greet guests. Entrées $21-$27

Le Suquet
Sébastien Bras, the son of triple-Michelin starred chef Michel Bras, has been running the show since 2009 at Le Suquet, which offers high-end seasonal cuisine with a modern touch. The restaurant is part of an intimate, 13-room bed and breakfast that features garden rooms and apartments. Seven course prix-fixe menu $151; eight course prix-fixe menu $182; ten course prix-fixe menu $239 (drinks not included)

Hervé Busset
At the Moulin de Cambelong in Conques, Hervé Busset’s “wild gastronomy,” featuring dishes and ingredients inspired by nature, has one Michelin star. Three course prix-fixe menu $50; five course prix-fixe menu $67; six course prix-fixe menu $83; nine course prix-fixe menu $117

Chez Marinette
In the tiny village of Fel, Chez Marinette serves traditional Aveyronnais dishes like potatoes aligot, truffade (a pancake of thinly-sliced, tenderly cooked potatoes and bacon), and the perfect roast chicken. Restaurant ‘Chez Marinette,’ 12140 Le Fel; 33-05-65-44-52-37; prix-fixe menus $13-$30

Le Belvédère
A locally sourced and seasonally curated menu define Guillaume Viala, who quit his university studies in Biology to earn a hospitality degree, train in the kitchen of Michel Bras, and eventually open his own restaurant-hotel in the town of Bozouls. It received its first Michelin star in 2010. Three course prix-fixe menu $37; six course prix-fixe menu $61; surprise tasting menu $92

Chez Colette
In the tiny village of Cassuéjouls, Colette Pastissier transformed an old barn into Chez Colette, an unpretentious best-keep secret of a restaurant. Every morning, local workmen gather for a glass of red wine with a splash of crème de cassis and a pleurote (oyster) mushroom tart. Chez Colette, Le Bourg 12210 Cassuéjouls. 33-05-65-44-33-71


Soulages Museum
Since its opening in May 2014, the Soulages Museum – named after the “painter of black,” Pierre Soulages – has hosted over 255,000 visitors and is considered one of the great museums of Province by Le journal des arts.

Millau Viaduct
Considered by some to be the Pont du Gard of the 21st century, the Millau Viaduct was seventeen years in the making, from the first sketches drawn in 1987 to the completion of construction in December 2004. It is part of the A75 motorway, on the route between Clermont-Ferrand and Béziers.

Château de Bournazel
With its innovative architecture and ornate sculpture, one of the most remarkable Renaissance castles in the South of France.

Sainte-Foy de Conques
This magnificent Romanesque church and abbey is the only medieval shrine on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela that still survives intact. Founded in 819 A.D., the Abbey of Sainte-Foy has always been an important stop on the medieval pilgrimage route thanks to its possession of the relics of a virgin martyr.

Rodez Cathedral
Three centuries of construction, begun in 1277, gave birth to one of the most imposing gothic cathedrals in the South of France. Constructed entirely in pink sandstone, the building is exceptional for its western façade, which has the air of a medieval fortress. From 2002 to 2007, artist Belzère Stéphane redesigned the seven central and chapel windows, merging traditional Christian imagery with modern glasswork techniques to capture the light and create an ethereal effect. Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rodez, 12000 Rodez.

Fenaille Museum
Dedicated to archaeology and ancient art history, the Fenaille Museum follows man’s arrival in the Rouergue region about 300,000 years ago through its late medieval history, around the dawn of the 17th century. It features more than 1,100 artifacts, mostly sculpture, from Prehistory, Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. The visit concludes in the inner courtyard of the Hôtel de Jouéry, gorgeously preserved from the Middle Ages.

Château Belcastel
It began in the 9th century as a chapel and grew with each new generation of nobles until it became a great stronghold of southern France. It fell into ruin the 16th century, but was restored from 1973-81 by architect Fernand Pouillon, who later made it his home. Although the château remains private residence, the owners welcome public tours of the place, which features both a history museum and an art gallery.


La Coutellerie de Laguiole Honoré Durand
Throughout the world, Laguiole knifes are known for their integrity and precision. The Laguiole knife museum, artisanal workshop, and official store explore the history and artistry of this unique regional product.

Roquefort Carles
Delphine Carles still uses the same secret family recipe for handmade Roquefort cheese that her grandfather, François Carles, originated in 1927.

Maison Fabre Ganterie
In the small town of Millau, three generations of the Fabre family has been making couture gloves and other leather goods since 1924.

Catherine André
Inspired by her travels in Ireland, designer Catherine André founded her Millau fashion house in 1995 on the principles of creativity, quality, and timelessness.

Les savons de mon cœur
All-natural, organic, handmade soaps in such scents as rose-geranium, lemongrass-avocado, and ylang ylang-mango-cardamom. The most fun place to shop them is at the Sunday morning market in the town of Marcillac, under the plane trees at the tour de ville.