Landscapes… Colours…

This land of rich colour palette from its soils was sculpted by two main rivers, the Dourdou and the Lot. Its rich variety of built heritage will surprise any traveller.

The CAUSSE COMTAL

 (Altitude around 600m)

This karstic plateau was formed by the marine sediments from the secondary Era. These steppe landscapes punctuated by juniper bushes alternate with green meadows (pradas) set on calcareous clay outcrops. To the curious traveller, this karstic relief displays areas of hollows (dolines), enclosed fields with clay layered soil ideal for cultures, outcrops and ruin-like relief (Rodelle, Salles-la-Sources), gorges and canyons (more specifically the Dourdou valley), a few swallow holes and subterranean rivers, springs and resurgence (waterfalls of Muret-le-Château and Salles-la-Source).

Since the ancient times, this land made of poor soil is the land of the sheep (feda) except on the calcareous and clay outcrops (aubugas) where the noble cereals, fodder crops and cow breeding thrive. Its human occupation dates back from Prehistory. This is a land rich in megaliths, more specifically dolmen (pèiras levadas), a few of which have been restored.

The rural settlements, nowadays much scattered, hold their characteristics from the Causse typical architecture: main body of farm quite imposing at times, some monumental sheepfold, pigeon-towers, bread-ovens still covered with lauzes, fortified Cistercian granary-towers (La Vayssière), medieval dens and their military architecture often remodelled during Renaissance (Billorgues, Cadayrac, Lagarde). 

THE ROUGIER OF MARCILLAC

 (Altitude around 200m)

The Vallon (small valley) or Rougier de Marcillac stays under a mild climate allowing the culture of the vine and fruit trees. Everywhere, the red sandstone lightens up the landscape and the villages.

The puechs / puèges or high peaks (Cayla, Kaymard, Panat peaks), the chapels perched high (Saint-Jean le Froid, Servières), the cliffs from the Causse (limestone plateau) offer superb points of view.

Since the Middle-Ages, the abbey-church of Conques favoured a specific vine from this land, the Mansois or fer servadou. The Marcillac wine quickly acquired its fame all around Rouergue and Auvergne, and even further. Today classified PDO (AOP), it is successful even overseas.

In the valleys of Grand Combe or the Cruou River, charming manors or vineyards houses from the former Rodez nobility or burgesses punctuate the landscape. 

The Ségala of Conques

(Altitude: 200 to 707m)

Downstream around Conques, the Dourdou River and its tributaries carved deep valleys inside the schistose rock (visible from the Bancarel site in Conques or Le Pergadou in Noailhac) to finally reach the wild valley of the Lot River (La Vinzelle or Montarnal). In Conques area, the shaded side slops host the chestnut trees. The sécadous / secadors, isolated small constructions, were then used to smoke and dry the chestnuts.

The schistose houses give a sense of harmony to the sites. They are built on the slope and display their pretty framed facades topped with a sharp-angled roof covered by the traditional lauzes and opened by dormers. Even though the schist has the last word in Conques, the cut stones like red sandstone and yellow limestone appear here and there in the clamp and ties of the angles, doors or windows.

The wooded slopes open up on the granite plateau of Sénergues, Saint-Félix de Lunel and their bocage atmosphere. The granite or pèira de barena is difficult to cut. Here it gives a rustic and massive aspect to the constructions, a certain "mountain" charm for these villages of the high plateau. Close-by the pleasant and changeable Lot Valley (Olt in Occitan) is a haven for the aquatic activities.