Holiday in Villefranche-de-Rouergue
This pretty town in south-west France is also a town of art and history, as it was founded in 1252 as a bastide by Alphonse de Poitiers, Count of Toulouse.
With a backdrop of woody hillsides and sitting on the banks of the river Aveyron, the mediaeval architecture of Villefranche-de-Rouergue will delight those with an interest in the period. The town is built around Place Notre Dame, the starting point of its streets, which are arranged in a rectilinear layout, a characteristic feature of new towns of the period. A number of buildings show off the town's architectural heritage. One unmissable destination is Notre-Dame Collegiate church, which was completed at the end of the 15th century after 300 years of work. Here you can admire the incredible stalls by André Sulpice and climb its 163 stairs for a view over the town, to look out over the Bastide and to admire the Gothic splendour of Chartreuse Saint-Sauveur. The baroque Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs, with its stunning paintings and sculptures, will be your next stop on this historic and religious journey which, if you're so minded, could become a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, following the 14-mile Villefranche-Najac route. Whether you embark on a pilgrimage or not, the route will certainly satisfy hikers as it takes in the hillsides and gorges of Aveyron. A real treat!
For those who prefer a nature or sport-themed break, the enchanting gorges of Aveyron offer a broad range of activities, from canoeing and kayaking, to paddleboarding, climbing and canyoning, to name just a few. You'll have plenty to do!
Villefranche-de-Rouergue also offers superb cuisine. You can enjoy ewe's milk cheese, Aveyron and Ségala veal, aligot or estofinado. There are plenty of restaurants nestled in the town's mediaeval streets or around Place Notre Dame, and plenty of ways to treat yourself. Every Thursday, the square also hosts a large market where you'll find the local and regional products you've enjoyed.
Villefranche-de-Rouergue can be reached by car, train or by air, with Toulouse airport being the nearest, offering connections to London.