Take a stroll in the woods.
Through the gates at Vigueris, turn right and walk up the track into the woods and the valley of the Seye. There are many tracks in the woods so take good note of where you go.
Drive along the D33 towards Cornusson and visit the Abbey of Beaulieu.
Though the modern art on display there may not inspire you, the splendid old Cistercian Monastic buildings and their setting never fail to impress. See the trout tank (it still works!) through which the River Seye was diverted to provide fresh fish for the monks in years gone by.
Rise early one Sunday morning and drive to St Antonin Noble Val
(best route is down the D33, turn right after Cornusson and the Abbey of Beaulieu climbing up via Espinas and over the top to St Antonin) At St Antonin you will encounter the biggest, and possibly the best, market in the region. Shop, then get a table at the bar in the market place, buy a glass of beer or wine from the waitress, a plate of charcuterie from the stall next to the bar and soak up the atmosphere.
Visit the manmade Lac du Parisot
where you can hire boats, fish, swim in the summer. There are pleasant walks around the lake but it can be busy in the summer. Drive towards Parisot and turn right down the Najac road as you enter the village, you'll find the lake on your right about 1km down the road.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a spell of poor weather
why not visit the cinema (Le Querlys) in St Antonin (20km). Many local shops have leaflets giving film details and times etc, and they often show English language films.
Explore Villefranche de Rouergue
(20 km) which is a living, thriving bastide town. Meander the narrow streets in the old town. Go on a Thursday when it is market day; colourful sunshades over the stalls, old farmers wearing floppy blue berets, housewives bustling here and there. Take an al fresco lunch at one of the restaurants over looking the market or alternately cross the Aveyron and eat at the Globe. After lunch drive north, the 10 km or so to Villeneuve sur Lot for a completely different bastide experience.
Hire a canoe in St Antonin
and explore the Aveyron River. A cool thing to do on a hot summer day.
(17km). Park your car in a permitted parking area (vehicles have no access to the village in the holiday season) and walk to the ruined fortress which dominates the village. There are steep climbs but fine views over the Aveyron and surrounding countryside. The fortress is worth a visit too. Pizzas at 'Il Capello' (on the left as you drive up into the village from Parisot) are excellent, cooked 'au feu du bois' by Lorena the Italian grandmother who owns the restaurant.
Another 'cool' thing to do in high summer is to visit a cave.
The 'Grottes du Bosc' are the nearest (look for signs after leaving Espinas on the road to St Antonin). The caves at Pech Merle and Lascaux are further away, as is the Gouffre de Padirac. Take your pick!
Have lunch at the local 'transport cafe' Le Vallee in Cornusson
(5 min drive). It is no 'greasy spoon' though, here you will find excellent local cuisine (wine-included menus) and very reasonably priced. Or try it in the evening, it is just as good!
Explore a local chateau,
try Chateau St Projet, Chateau de Cas or Chateau de Labro. The latter is very close to the house, just outside Parisot, and was the birthplace of Jean de La Vallette after whom the capital of Malta, Valletta, is named.
Drive to Najac station and take the train to Villefranche de Rouergue
through the Aveyron Gorges. You'll need to check times and don't forget you'll need a return!
Drive to Millau
(2hrs) and cross the new bridge traversing the Tarn valley. Designed by Norman Foster, 2.5km long, 280m highest sections, the world's highest road bridge takes the A75 around what was the bottleneck of Millau. There is an information centre where you can learn about the building of the bridge. Why not visit Millau itself? Now much quieter and more tourist friendly. Here you will find ancient architecture and the products of artisans such as potters, glass blowers, woodworkers and glove makers to name a few, and lots of cafes and restaurants.
The Lot Valley and St Cirq La Popie
(30 km) make a pleasant day out. St Cirq is a well-restored medieval village atop a vertical limestone cliff overlooking the Lot, with magnificent, far-reaching views.
(1hr ½ drive), claimed to be the second most visited site in France, is even more vertiginous than St Cirq. Clinging to the rock face, cliff-hugging Rocamadour hangs almost 500 feet above the Alzou Canyon, definitely one of the most extraordinary settings in France! Visit in summer time and it will be busy, but there is plenty of parking in the valley below and on top of the cliff. (Try to park on top and ride the lift down into the village for the easiest access.) A walk around the Chateau walls with views down into village is a must if you have a good head for heights. A site of pilgrimage for Kings, Nobles and common folk alike, Rocamadour has claimed miracles in the past (Henry Plantagenet of England was cured after a visit) and the statue of the Black Virgin can still be seen in the chapel.
(1hr ½ drive), 'one of the most Beautiful Villages of France'. On the pilgrim route to Campostela, Conqes is a picturesque village with timber framed houses and narrow lanes, nestled in a wild valley and dominated by the Abbey-Church. Of special interest are the religious treasures hidden away for safety by the villagers during the revolutionary years and now returned to the church. The spectacular golden reliquary of St Foy is one of several items now on view in this unique collection.
(50 min drive) on the banks of the Tarn. Dominated by the brick built Cathedral of St Cecile (which must be visited as the inside is as intriguing as the outside) Albi is home to the Palais et Jardins de La Berbie. It is here that you will find the Toulouse Lautrec Museum. The Vigueris Lautrec prints came from here.
(50 min drive), famous for its wines. It is said that the Romans, who planted the first vines here, circa 1BC, would still recognise the wines today. Explore the old town, a maze of mediaeval streets and buildings. Wander down to the banks of the Lot and take a boat ride around the meander in the River Lot which encloses the town, or walk on the Pont Valentre.
Drive to Cordes-sur-Ciel
(45-50 mins), a fortified bastide containing luxurious houses and small palaces built by affluent merchants and noblemen between 1280 - 1350 AD. The town is associated with the persecution of the Cathars. It became a Cathar stronghold and experienced the cruelty of the Papal Inquisition. The town is very popular with tourists - go early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
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