Rodez - things to see and do
capital city of the Aveyron department, Rodez was for a long time well
off the tourist trail. Hard to reach by rail and just as hard by road,
it was one of the most isolated small cities in France.
from the Soulages Museum to the Place d'Armes and Notre Dame cathedral
that has changed, and while Rodez remains at the heart of one of the
most rural regions of France, it is now firmly on the tourist map. The
2014 opening of a stunning new museum to house a large collection of
paintings and works by the artist Pierre Soulages has
Rodez firmly into the twenty-first century.
Rodez is located in the north east of the Midi- Pyrenees region,
between the foothills of the Massif
Central and the plains of the
southwest. It is accessible by motorway and dual-carriageway road from
Toulouse and Albi
the southwest, and
is 45 km from the A75 Paris-Beziers motorway to the east. There are
trains, comfortable but rather slow, from Toulouse (direct) and
at Brive la Gaillarde). Rodez has direct flights to
the UK - Southampton - with Eastern airways/Flybe.
The airport is also served by Ryanair flights from Dublin and
Charleroi (Belgium), and can be reached by Eastern Airways
flights from Paris Orly..
A long time ago the hill-town of Rodez
called Segodunum, and was the Roman capital of the land of the Rutheni.
While no more than a short section of town wall survives from the Roman
period, the historic heart of modern Rodez is still clearly enclosed in
the perimeter of the old Roman and mediaeval city walls, or which parts
and several towers survive to this day.
Due to the city's relative isolation in previous centuries,
historic centre of Rodez is well preserved, and consists of a
network of old narrow streets and attractive squares, flanked by
mediaeval and renaissance buildings built in one or other of the local
stones, either a red sandstone or a creamy pale limestone.
Sunset over the skyline of old Rodez - a hilltop city
At the edge of the city centre, on the paved Place d'Armes
Notre Dame cathedral, one of just a handful of fine gothic cathedrals
in the south of France. Particularly noteworthy is the cathedral's
intricately carved flamboyant gothic tower. The historic centre is also
home to two of the city's three museums, the Musée Fenaille
its remarkable collection of carved prehistoric menhirs or headstones,
and the Musée Puech, with its collection of 19th &
century sculpture and early 20th century painting.
Four hundred metres from the cathedral,
in an attractive city park, stands the impressive new Soulages museum,
that opened in 2014. Recognised as the greatest French artist of the
second half of the 20th century, Pierre Soulages was born in
Rodez. In 2005 he bequeathed over 200 of his works to his
city. The new museum now houses this collection, and also presents
temporary exhibitions of works by other modern and contemporary
artists. After the Picasso exhibition in 2016, the museum will be hosting an Alexander Calder exhibition in 2018.
modern - the new Soulages museum in Rodez
Designed by Catalan artchitects RCR Arquitectes, the museum is
a significant building in its own right, a masterpiece of
"minimalist spatial composition" clad in weathering steel plate. It is
part of an coherent ensemble of contemporary buildings including a
brasserie run by Michelin three-starred chef Michel Bras, and
multi-screen cinema complex, all opened in 2014.
the area - discover the Aveyron
The Aveyron department
Rodez is not just an attractive small city in its own right,
is the centre of for discovering the Aveyron department, one of the
largest and most diverse in France. The north of the Aveyron comprises
an area known as the Aubrac, which is the southern flank of the granite
heartland of the Massif Central mountains. At an altitude of between
1000 and 1300 metres, the Aubrac is a fairly desolate area, famed for
its beef cattle.
In the east of the Aveyron, crossed by
the A75 motorway, lies an area known as the Causse du Larzac, an arid
limestone plateau. This is the heart of an area that produces France's
most famous cheese,
The south of the Aveyron is hill country, including an area
known as the Ségala which is now a prosperous agricultural
region. The west of the Aveyron, warmer and lower-lying, is known as
the Rouergue; the low limestone hills are quite forested.
Attractions in the Aveyron
- (Conques slidehow)
a UNESCO world heritage site, and one of the most finely preserved
romanesque churches in France, on the old pilgrimage route to Santiago
- small town 15 km from Rodez, on the scarp of a steep valley, and
famous for its waterfalls, its site, and its rural crafts museum.
Rouergue: one of the larger bastide towns
of southwest France.
Sauveterre de Rouergue : two more attractive bastide
attractive small town on the river Tarn, very meridional.
The Millau viaduct:
the world's most impressive motorway viaduct, over the Tarn valley,
deigned by Norman Foster & partners.
Viaduc du Viaur:
between Rodez and Albi. One of the two great 19th century viaducts
designed and built by Gustave Eiffel
: between Rodez and Millau. Large modern museum of the world of insects.
Lévezou. a series of lakes in the hills south
of Rodez. Sailing.
le Chateau. Impressive mediaeval fortress beside a small
town 45 km east of Rodez, on the way to...
Les Gorges du Tarn
- Running between Aveyron and Lozère, the Tarn gorge, a very
dramatic a deep limestone gorge, is one of France's grandest natural
sites. The Tarn gorge is now overflown by magnificent vultures, a
species successfully reintroduced in the 1990s.
- minuscule walled city,
once a bastion of the Knights Templar, on the Larzac plateau.
- home of the famous cheese. Visit the underground caves where the
cheese is matured and stored.
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cottages near Rodez