The Area culture
Many villages and hamlets in our region have fine old buildings of dressed stone, and romanesque or gothic churches.
Saint-Flour has a renaissance upper town built on a cluster of vertical basalt columns, and an austere cathedral containing an ebony statue of Christ dating from the 14th century. Murat is a medieval fortified hill-town at the foot of the Cantal mountains, flanked by three great rocks, formerly volcanic chimneys. The XIth-century priory church of Bredons, perched on one of these rocks, is the start of an old Cluniac path which crosses the Cantal mountains and wends its way to the chapel at Manhaval in the Aveyron. In August each year a fine concert is put on in the church at Bredons.
Chaudes-Aigues is a charming old-world spa which is proud of having a hot spring (exploited since Roman days) with the hottest water in Europe, at 82oC.
The towns and villages hold regular street markets, and organise local festivals and concerts in the summer tourist season. Pierrefort has a Fête des Tersons (cattle fair) two weeks before Easter, and the European Championship of Square Boules! played on the steep streets in August. For details of local events, visit the website Pays de Saint-Flour.
There are two fine examples of civil engineering well worth visiting as part of your stay. The Garabit viaduct (40 minutes from La Roche) was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1881-84 to take the railway across the Truyère gorge. The Millau viaduct (2 hours 30 minutes from La Roche), was designed by Norman Foster and opened at the end of 2004: it takes the A75 motorway above the Tarn valley for 2.46 kms, and has the highest towers of any cable-stayed viaduct in the world.