PLACES OF INTEREST
This area that comprises the southern part of the Cantal and the northernmost part of the Aveyron offers a wide range of interesting subjects to study and places to visit. The region is steeped in history with many of the nearby towns and villages having their origins in medieval times from before the Hundred Years War. A number of such places, both near and far, are shown below.
Junhac is the nearest village to the gîtes. The walk takes about 20 minutes either by a quiet country road or by the old road which winds its way through farmland. Many of the houses in the main street have recently been renovated in the local style. You will find two café/bars where you could have a refreshing drink before your return journey. Every year, Junhac participates in a floral competition and the displays of flowers make it a very pretty village to visit.
Montsalvy, 4 kms away, is an 11th century fortified hill town and the name is derived from its role as a place of refuge for pilgrims. The town is more in keeping with a large village than a commercial town; it is compact, quaint and very attractive with narrow streets encircling the 11th century abbey. There are a number of shops, butchers, bakers, supermarket etc., providing most daily needs. It is well provided with two good restaurants and a number of bars. One kilometre out of town is the Puy de l'Arbre, the highest point in the area. The viewing table here offers a magnificent panorama over the Cantal massif, the Carladez, the Barrez, the Aubrac, the Causses, the chestnut groves and Aurillac Basin.
Le Fel, a mere 10 minute drive away, is the small winemaking community. This village not only offers unparalleled views but also visits to a number of small-scale bio wine producers. Nearby is the Poterie du Don, a ceramics gallery and boutique presenting the works of renowned artists and potters from around the world.
Entraygues, which is situated at the confluence of the rivers Truyère and Lot, is a charming old town. Particularly attractive is the Rue Basse which has preserved its medieval aspect almost intact. A 13th Century bridge spans the Lot and a Gothic bridge spans the Truyère. Explore the back streets of the town and notice the ancient doors and alleyways. There is a chateau with pepper-pot roofs, typical of the area.
Marcolès is another ancient village fortified in the 13th Century. It has picturesque narrow streets and the 15th Century gateway bearing the Coat of Arms. In August of each year famous names from the Tour de France attend a cyclists 'Criterium' with tests and time trials.
Conques, only 40 minutes away by car, is one of the premier Plus Beaux Villages de France. Conques is a must see for any visitor. It was an important stopping place for pilgrims en route to St. Jacques de Compostella and today it is a European Centre for Art and Medieval Civilisation. The abbey has a superb example of a Tympanum of this period; study this carved and sculpted panel over the Abbey door to see a graphic representation of the Last Judgement. This is a photographers’ paradise. Explore the narrow streets, the backs of houses, the ancient doors and the arrangement of stone walls and wooden beams. If you climb the steep alleyways your eyes will be drawn down to the fascinating juxtaposition of the stone roofs.
Figeac, an hour away by car, is a most beautiful medieval trading town. Here you will find a jumble of narrow streets and alleys with ancient timber-framed houses fronting on to them. Figeac is also the birthplace of Champollion who first deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics with its associations with the Rosetta Stone. A museum celebrates his life and work. A market on Saturday morning is one of the largest in the area.
Rodez is the ancient county town of the département of Aveyron built around the cathedral Notre Dame, a Gothic master piece that dominates the town and its surroundings from the top of its 87 metre bell tower.
Further afield, a number of other towns and Plus Beaux Villages de France will be found including Espalion, Estaing, Rocamadour, Cordes-sur-Ciel, St Cirq-Lapopie, Belcastel and Cahors.
If historical sites and natural scenic beauty get too much then a visit to the Viaduc du Millau, less than two hours drive away, is a must. Millau viaduct holds the world record for the tallest bridge, culminating at 343 metres (higher than the Eiffel tower), 2,460 metres long and touching the bottom of the Tarn valley in only 9 places. A truly ouststanding feat of design and engineering.
Many activities await you in this area and you will undoubtedly find something of interest. Children need special consideration during the holidays and here they can indulge in a number of exciting diversions. Your hosts, Gary and Denise, will be on hand to offer advice to ensure that you make the very most of your holiday.
It wouldn't be France if there wasnt a market on somewhere. Locally, there are excellent markets in Aurillac (Wednesday and Saturday), Salers (Wednesday), Maurs (Thursday), Decazeville (Friday), Rodez and Figeac (Saturday) and Marcillac (Sunday). Further afield there are very good markets to be found in Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Thursday) and Sarlat-la-Caneda (Saturday). Most markets start early and finish by lunch time.
On Wednesday evenings, during July and August, there is a marché de producteurs (producers market) in the nearby town of Entraygues where you can buy local food and wine and sit and enjoy your purchases in the company of fellow travellers and locals whilst listening to music and perhaps even dancing. It's a great experience and one that you should experience during your stay with us at Lagarde. A similar market is also held in the riverside village of St Parthem.
The Cantal and the Aveyron both have a considerable number of lakes, reservoirs and rivers and the many pleasures which water can bring include canoeing, paddle boarding, kayaking and rafting on the River Lot, and canyoning with guided descents of waterfalls, dinghy sailing and wind-surfing. Canoeing and paddle boarding are run from centres in Entraygues and another in Le Port, close to Vieillevie. A few miles downstream from Grand Vabre a company offers boat cruises, with and without lunch, a pleasant way to while away a few hours and see the river from its best vantage point.
Whilst many walks can begin from Lagarde, the more adventurous will want to head for the volcanic mountains of the Monts de Cantal, just over an hour away by car. The highest point is almost 6,000 feet and the views over much of the Auvergne are superb. This landscape offers high level ridge walking at it’s finest. The sign-posted trails can be easily followed at a leisurely pace. Take a baguette, a lot of water (and a little wine!) and some Cantal cheese for a wonderful day out. The Aubrac, a large volcanic and granitic plateau that extends over an area of 1,500 km2, also provides an excellent hiking experience. Although lower and more level than the nearby Monts de Cantal, walking in the Aubrac is, at any time of year, not to be missed.
Cycling is a popular activity in this area. Excellent road surfaces and little traffic allow for some fast times either on a road or mountain bike and is a wonderful way to explore the hidden parts of La Châtaigneraie. Tackling the Puy Mary is a classic hill climb for a real enthusiast. Cycling around the Cantal is always an up and down affair but then, that is why you have 27 gears to choose from! In the 2004 Tour de France the route for one stage was through Junhac. In 2016 the route for an early stage went through Montsalvy. Bikes can be hired locally in Labesserette just a few minutes away by car.
An 18 hole (6,208 metres), par 72 course near Aurillac is in a beautiful setting. It has open air and covered driving ranges, with introduction and improvement training available. Equipment can be hired. Golf is also available in Rodez.
At Super Lioran, about one hour away by car, there is an adventure circuit with a number of guaranteed ‘sensations’ for all the family. Out of the winter season a challenging Go-Ape style tree adventure can be found in this beautiful mountain resort. Other activities in the immediate area to Lagarde include cart racing, tennis, horse riding, rock climbing and both lake and river fishing. Licenses for fishing are available from many local shops.
At an altitude of 580 metres, winter usually arrives at Lagarde in the middle of December with falls of snow occurring up to the end of March. Temperatures can drop to as low as -20ºC. In the mountains the snow can be metres deep and stay until May. Head for Super Lioran, a major centre in the Monts de Cantal for winter sports about an hour away. Here you have a choice of alpine skiing with over 40 kms of pistes, 140 kms of cross country routes and an ice skating rink. You can also continue your trekking across the mountains on snow shoes. The Aubrac also offers similar winter sport facilities, with less emphasis on alpine skiing and more on cross country and snow shoe routes.