Road Trip, Day 12

Calves! As I drove past this field, I saw a mamma licking her calf; by the time I found a place to stash the car and walk back, they were all having a siesta. It’s still cute.

Today’s forecast virtually guaranteed rain, so I hopped in the car to explore some of the tiny roads in the region—one of my favorite ways to see a new area. My plan was to see as much as I could before the skies opened up, but they never did. It was another full day.

I began by taking a turnoff from the larger road between Nasbinals and Laguiole, and found myself almost immediately in terrain that was even rockier than what I saw yesterday. I turned up a narrow track toward a place called Recoules d’Aubrac.

Recoules is an immaculate and lovely stone village/hamlet that boasts a big claim to fame: it was founded by the Knights Templar. I wanted to visit the Templar church, but it was closed (I’ll see if I can get in before I leave the region). But even without the church, it’s a lovely place to have a stroll.

I’ve been talking to you about lauzes, the thick, flat stones that are used for roofing around here. I finally found a place where I could photograph it for you, so you can see what I’m talking about.

Here’s a fabulous roof that’s covered in rounded lauzes (tiles made of stone, often a thicker piece of slate).
Here’s a closer view of the lauzes tiles. Like slate, if they’re of good quality and well-installed, they can last a lifetime (or beyond).
A closeup of the extremely durable lauzes tiles for roofs.

Like all the other settlements in the area, nearly all the buildings are made of stone. Here are two from the village of Recoules-d’Aubrac.

The windows and door on this house have exposed stones that probably date to the building of the house, while the remainder of the exterior finish is probably “newer” (even though it, too, looks plenty old).
This place looks abandoned, although it’s still oozing charm.

As you walk or drive through this area, you begin to notice large stone huts in the hills. These are burons, and they represent a way of life that has all but disappeared. In the summer, men would move the cattle into the hills (this is called transhumance); the buron was a home base. The structure was built into the hillside, to take advantage of the cooler temperatures provided by the earth. The buron provided a simple home for the men working with these animals, as well as the work space for producing and storing the cheese. These men were called buronniers.

This is the ancient method of production of Cantal and Laguiole cheese. Laguiole cheese dates to the 12th century, and its younger form (tome fraîche) is what is used to make the local dish called aligot (cheese and potatoes, a perfect combination).

Today, many of the burons are abandoned, and others have become popular restaurants that typically specialize in… yes, aligot! It turns out to be difficult to get a reservation, so I have to save that experience for my next trip to the Aubrac.

I saw this buron yesterday on my drive along winding, narrow roads.
I love turning down an unknown road, preferably small, and seeing where it will take me. Today I found a road that turned into a dirt road, although that’s a generous description. It was made of small stones, larger than pebbles, that sometimes made a good driving surface and sometimes sank like a soft pillow. Anyway, treasures are often to be found along such roads, and this buron was one such treasure.
A front view of the same buron. The cows in the fields across the way watched as I walked up and down the road to make photographs. I wonder what they were thinking as they watched.
Some of the stone walls I mentioned yesterday, many of which look like someone just dumped stones in a pile that eventually turned into a line. I’ve no doubt there’s more to it than that, but it looks a bit random.
I stood on a stone bridge that crosses this waterway south of Nasbinals.
This is the village of Aubrac, where I’m staying for a few days.


4 thoughts on “Road Trip, Day 12”

  1. So it’s not stacked stone like Ireland or Greece. The 2 I have seen. Fascinating, especially the stone tile roofs. Wondering about the weight of the roof and how they counter that. 🤔

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  2. Hi Bobbie! I’ve wondered about that weight issue too, but clearly they know what they’re doing because these roofs often outlive the people who built them. It’s also common to see slate tiles on the windward side of a house, which seems even less structurally sound. They do it to protect against damage from water + freezing in the winter. Glad you’re enjoying your armchair tour! Bisous, Lynne

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  3. Bonjour Lynne! I got completely waylaid these last several days but just got caught up on your travels. Thank you SO MUCH for researching and sharing all the most interesting information about the places you have visited and your stunning photographs. What a gift, my friend!! Enjoy the last couple of days. Mary

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    1. Thank YOU, Mary, for writing such generous words. I so appreciate it. This area where I’m staying has a lot of raptor birds. I keep trying to get photos for you, but… not on a phone. Some are peregrine falcons, others are bigger. I’ve been surprised at how many there are, and I can often hear them screeching. So cool, raptors and cows. Bisous, Lynne

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