Road Trip, Day 11

The rocky countryside around Aubrac

I’m spending a few days in the far northeastern corner of the Aveyron, where it meets the Cantal and the Lodève départements. My whole trip has been in cattle country, cows grazing everywhere. I’ve spent much of my life in cattle country, but now I live in goat country, and it really is different. Before I left on this trip, my friend Sue said that Aubrac has beautiful cows, and she’s absolutely right. So, more cow photos coming.

This region is remarkably rocky, and as I drive along the winding roads, I see fields full of rocks of all sizes, many far too large to move without huge equipment. Some of the rocks that are “merely” large have been used to create stone walls. Again there’s something different going on here than where I live: the walls in my home region tend to be drystack walls, but the walls here are much lower and tend to look like someone just dumped the rocks there. I think that’s not actually true, but as I drive past, I find it hard to discern a building technique.

And all those rocks have been used for millennia to build structures in the region, from simple shelters to small houses to castles. This is cattle country, but it’s also rock country.

A lovely old stone barn outside of Laguiole.

It was a gorgeous day, one to be outside as much as possible. I took a drive to nearby Laguiole, famous for its cheese and its knives, and made a lot of stops along the way to admire the countryside.

Two stone houses in the center of Laguiole.
Another stone house in the center of Laguiole. This house and the one above both have lauzes roofs.
I stopped by the town of Saint-Urcize and saw this mermaid on a building with a historic marker. She’s from the 15th-16th century. And we’re a long way from the sea.

I wanted to have a cheese tasting, but that didn’t quite work out. Maryse had suggested that I try to have a tour of a buron, which is an ancient style of stone structure, usually found in relatively remote areas (not in town); they were used in the production and storage of cheese. Alas, they are no longer used for this, and many of them have been abandoned. Others are now restaurants, where one can go for a meal of aligot, the soul food of this region. I’m still working on finding a slot; so far, everyone I’ve called is all booked up. Dang, I guess I’ll have to come back!

Aligot, by the way, is a dish that is made of silky mashed potatoes, to which either Cantal or Laguiole cheese is added in copious amounts, plus some crème fraîche, to create a smooth, elastic sort of cheese porridge. It’s a trick to dish up, because it forms long ribbons that just keep stretching. It is total soul food, perfect for warmth and comfort on cold winter nights. It’s usually served with grilled sausage.

Another thing to do in Laguiole is to peruse their lovely knives. This area has a long-standing reputation for master knife-making, and there are shops all over town displaying their wares.

A display of single-blade folding knives with wooden handles. Knives from Laguiole tend to have a bee on the handle, and in this particular range, each knife has a different bee design.

Other bits I saw today
I love this sign for a car wash in Laguiole. That’s a model of a vintage Citroën, and I have no idea why there’s a propeller. Had to have a photo, though!
A stone wall in Laguiole with spring-green moss growing along the cracks.
An Aubrac cow I saw on my way back at the end of a wonderful day. What a sweet face!