Aveyron valley and gorges by bike : enjoy a sporty and spectacular adventure
- Bruniquel: "Plus beaux villages de France" certified
- Travelling through 3 Great Sites of Occitania: Montauban, Cordes sur Ciel and Medieval towns, Bastides and Gorges of Aveyron
- The Aveyron Gorges: a Remarkable Natural Site and Natura 2000 zone
This itinerary is a véloroute. That means it is shared by bicycles, motorcycles and cars. Don't forget your helmet, yellow vest and lights for going through the tunnels, and take care. Level: easy, a few of the hills are more enjoyable on an electric bike. You can hire one from ALoisir.
You can go back by train from Laguépie station or by bike.
GET, SET, GO: FROM MONTAUBAN TO MONTRICOUX
Before cycling off, be sure to visit Montauban!
This cycling experience begins in an enchanting setting, the sublime Montauban, resplendent in pink brick at the heart of the Tarn Valley. The town of Ingres, Bourdelle and Olympe de Gouges, it never ceases to inspire artists. Before you get on your bike, I recommend taking a walk in its historic centre and ensuring you have plenty of energy by enjoying a flavoursome lunch on the amazing Place nationale. The exit from the town is less romantic, through urban areas, but the countryside is close by
In Autumn, don't be surprised if you see poetic quotes written on the town's windows in coloured felt-tip pen. From mid-November, the Festival Lettres d’Automne invites you to see, hear and share the literary works and artistic world of a writer who is selected to be guest of honour.
FROM MONTAUBAN TO NÈGREPELISSE
An arty stop at La Cuisine!
As you pass through the villages of Saint-Etienne-de-Tulmont and arrive in Nègrepelisse, you travel along flat roads which offer an easy start. In Nègrepelisse, a big surprise awaits you. Here, the old castle fort has been turned into a Centre for Art and Design, dedicated to cookery and contemporary architecture, and appropriately named La Cuisine ("The Kitchen"). As you can now tell, this will also be a gastronomic adventure. Leave your bike on the avenue of plane trees opposite the castle to go and explore this surprising building, and discover designers' enduring works on La Cuisine's island by the Aveyron.
La Cuisine has been renovated by the famous Catalan architects RCR Arquitectes, winners of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. They also designed the Soulages Museum in Rodez.
FROM NÈGREPELISSE TO MONTRICOUX
A gourmet stop at Chez Terrassier
From Nègrepelisse, the adventure continues in Bioule and on through farms and orchards. A few dovecotes adorn the route to Montricoux.
To round off this first section nicely, you have to go 6 kilometres off the véloroute and head to Vaïssac, for the Accueil vélo-certified hotel, Chez Terrassier.
You can confidently leave your bike in the owners' capable hands, for they are bike-lovers too, and enjoy a peaceful night in this little village. Before bedtime, enjoy a gourmet dinner at the restaurant, where you simply must try the famous mushroom omelette that the house is famous for.
SECOND DAY, FROM MONTRICOUX TO SAINT-ANTONIN-NOBLE-VAL
From Montricoux to Bruniquel
Montricoux is an old Templar city. You won't regret going up to the village once you're standing in front of its medieval houses' façades, and especially in the courtyard of the Château that houses the Marcel-Lenoir Museum. Next, the descent along the Aveyron is green and shady, and you feel like you're going through an enchanted forest. Then there's a surprise, as you find yourself on a little bridge over the Aveyron... just above the cliff where the impressive Bruniquel Castles tower over us.
For film buffs: the villages of Bruniquel and Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val are popular film locations! Numerous masterpieces have been filmed here: The Old Gunby Robert Enrico, Charlotte Gray with Cate Blanchett, The Hundred-Foot Journey with Helen Mirren and Charlotte Le Bon…
STOP IN BRUNIQUEL
Hillside castles and sensations guaranteed!
The véloroute does not go through the village of Bruniquel, so you cycle off the beaten track for less than 2km, to reach a place that you simply have to see. You will soon see why Bruniquel is Plus Beaux Villages de France-certified... The architecture of the houses, the rose bushes and other plants dotted about the village, and the buttressed windows will cast a spell on you. The Castles are like a mountaintop you have to conquer, but it's best to go up on foot, leaving your bike opposite the Tourist Office.
Once you arrive, take a breath of fresh air at 90m above the Aveyron from the Renaissance gallery, and enjoy the 360° view of the landscapes opposite you.
Penne, located 8 km after Bruniquel, is your next stop. This village will also charm you with its narrow streets and ruined castle, built on a rocky spur above the Aveyron Gorges. It's best to leave your bike next to the church and explore the cobbled streets on foot.
SPECTACULAR ARRIVAL IN SAINT-ANTONIN-NOBLE-VAL
A magical night at the heart of the medieval town.
After these athletic uphill climbs, the véloroute becomes gentler again, with hills and descents along Aveyron's natural beaches like in Cazals. The superb Route de la Corniche, with its rocky ledges overhanging the Aveyron Gorges, is well worth the effort involved in pedalling up to the hamlet of Brousse les Antibels. Of course, you have to take a selfie break after the passage in the rock, to the right on the way downhill. Next, just carry on until you reach Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, a medieval town where there is no shortage of guesthouses for a magical overnight stay, with a spot of stargazing if you like.
The market in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val on Sunday mornings is unmissable if you want to discover the best of the local gastronomy.
LAST DAY, FROM SAINT-ANTONIN-NOBLE-VAL TO LAGUÉPIE
An architectural stop in Lexos!
When you leave Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, you say goodbye to the dizzying cliffs and head to the green Aveyron Valley, where the river is more peaceful. You can't help but marvel at this trail dotted with pretty villages like Féneyrols and Montrosier.
A stop in Lexos is a must if you want to admire the impressive station, a real monument to 19th-century railway architecture. It's a reminder of the industrial and mining history of this region, which used to connect Brive-la-Gaillarde with Toulouse.
Varen, located less than 3km from Lexos, is worth a short detour. Its 15th-century deanery with defensive medieval architecture will surprise you since life seems so peaceful here: proof that there is also a historical aspect to this bike trip. The abbey church's Romanesque capitals are architectural treasures of the 11th century, especially the animals.
END OF THE ROUTE IN LAGUÉPIE
Enjoy the surroundings!
All that's left is to arrive in Laguépie, where Quercy seems far away since we're at the gateway to Rouergue.
The oak trees and also chestnut trees reign supreme here, hence the famous Laguépie chestnut, which has its own festival on the last Sunday in October every year.
In summer, Viaur's Blue Flag beach is an ideal place for a well-deserved swim. In autumn, you will be content with admiring the red and orange colours of the trees by the river, mingling with the fog in the morning, like something from the movies!
Try out a stepper bike for an hour in the Aveyron Gorges, to work other muscles and have a fun time with Les Vélos de Josette's bikes, on one of the 11 mountain bike trails connected to the véloroute.
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
Le Refuge aux étoiles
If you want to relax or take a stroll on beautiful trails for hiking, ....
Les deux rivières
Campsite "Les Gorges de l'Aveyron"
Located in the heart of the Gorges de l'Aveyron, facing the rock of Anglars, the campsite offers 80 sites...