Region 3: Aveyron

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The way into Conques is lined with roses.

Main cities and villages along the way

  • Aubrac
  • Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac
  • Saint-Côme-d’Olt
  • Espalion
  • Estaing
  • Golinhac
  • Espeyrac
  • Sénergues
  • Conques
  • Noailhac (as part of an alternate route)
  • Decazeville
  • Livinhac-le-Haut

The landscape

This stretch of the way has less elevation change than before, and the landscape is still fairly rural. Most often the way follows farm roads through fields and sometimes forest paths full of chestnut trees. Frequent low hills provide lovely views of the river Lot winding through country villages and fields. An abundance of Medieval villages and churches provide lovely stops every few miles.

A typical route

It’s useful in this region to research ahead and plan which villages you can’t possibly miss because there are so many lovely possible stops and detours. In one convent off the beaten path live nuns who make famous chocolate.

Don’t miss

Conques is a major destination for many pilgrims and tourists because of the steal-your-breath-away Medieval village and high forested hills all around. The Abbey-Church of Saint-Foy is a gem of 12th century Romanesque architecture, and it runs a unique and rigorous schedule of prayers and activities. The brothers present a pilgrims’ benediction every evening, and sometimes pilgrims read scripture in multiple languages. Afterward, a brother or the abbot hosts a chuckle-inducing explanation of the tympanum decoration over the main church doors, which depict contrasting lifestyles in heaven and hell. Finally, there’s an evening service of organ music, and paying tourists are allowed into the upper floor for a perimeter tour of the column capitals, each uniquely carved in patterns and figures. After all that came before, though, and with the thundering chords of “House of the Rising Sun” echoing in the vast church, it’s hard to study minutia. It’s enough to just walk around, jaw hanging, and wave across the church at travelers you’ve met along the way.

Conques tympanum talk
Tympanum talks draw crowds at the Abbey-Church of St. Foy (Faith) in Conques. They are not translated in English, so try to make bilingual friends.

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