Our occasional series of articles using local knowledge to help you get the best out of a visit to different parts of France – the Segala
The Segala is a rural area comprising part of the south Aveyron and northern Tarn departments.
The Segala is an old provencal region also known as the Land of the 100 Valleys. The area is a little known gem often by-passed by sun worshipers on the way to the Mediterranean. Indeed the Aveyron boasts no less than 9 Plus Beaux Villages de France more than any other department. Among these is the bastide town of Sauverterre de Rouergue (12 Aveyron, Occitanie) which has retained much of its medieval charm and throughout the summer many medieval festivals are held here including the
- Fête de la Lumière 11 August 2018 – a festival of lights and candles –
- Fête de la Chataigne 27 October 2019 chestnut and cider festival
To the south of this region is Albi which is an absolute gem with its medieval streets and stunningly colossal 500 year old brick built cathedral. It is also the birth place of the artist Toulouse Lautrec and there is a fine museum of his work next to the cathedral : Musée Toulouse-Lautrec
The region has to be one of the best undiscovered areas of France – stunning landscapes and few people!
Where to stay – self-catering holiday cottages at Les Gîtes du Bouyssou
or B&B in a local castle at Chateau de Lunac
Now available: The Official Guide to the Most Beautiful Villages of France
Where to eat (recommended):
Le Papillon Restaurant 1, bis Rue Toulouse Lautrec, 8100 Albi. Tel 05 63 43 10 77. The restaurant specialises in American-Asian fusion and vegetarian cuisine – it is also excellent value for money.
Where to eat (gourmet):
Le Senechal in Sauverterre de Rouergue is an elegant Michelin starred restaurent. run by Michel Truchon – Tel. 05 65 71 20 00
The Segala is noted for its ‘rosé’ veal from the many herds of limousin cattle -the Veau d’Aveyron et du Segala is renowned throughout France for its quality.
The other local delicacy is Tripoux a stew of veal tripe which is served for breakfast and special celebrations!!
This area is situated between the wine regions of Gaillac and Marcillac which both have AOC status. Gaillac AC wines are widely available in the UK and produce red, rose and white wines, the whites ranging from dry to rich dessert wines. Sparkling wines are also made here – look out for the Gaillac Perle AC – a very lightly sparkling wine made from the local L’En de l’El grape. (Gaillac Wine Fair in early August (8-9 August 2009)
Marcillac wines are seldom seen outside the local area.
Local markets: For authentic ‘French markets then Carmaux on Friday mornings and Villefranche de Rouergue on Thursday mornings are the best. For night markets where cooked food can be purchased from the producers and eaten on the spot – Sauverterre de Rouergue on Friday nights in July and August
Must see: The world famous Viaduc de Millau bridge that crosses the Tarn gorge designed by Sir Norman Foster is only an hour by car. Much closer is the Viaduc du Viaur – an impressive iron railway bridge which must have been as impressive to the visitors of the 1910s as the Millau viaduct is today!.
A bit of culture: Each year there is week long guitar festival in Albi and each August there is a festival of Occitan music and poetry in Rodez
Shopping: Both Albi and Rodez have a good selection of retail outlets and hypermarkets – otherwise the small villages offer essentials and some interesting craft shops.
For a walk: The region has many marked ‘Randonee‘ routes along river valleys and through wooded hills. The local tourism office offers a detailed itineraries and maps of walking trails.
For the children: Head for Cap Decouverte – a converted open cast mine now dedicated as a leisure site. It has water skiing, zip line, open air pool, beach, down hill cart track, dry ski slope, Between Rodez and Millau is Micropolis where the small world of insects can be explored. Or a litle further afield try the Velorail and Train Touristique de Larzac
Getting there: Fly to Rodez from Stansted and Dublin with Ryanair – or to Toulouse from numerous UK airports including Birmingham,
By car: Take the autoroute to Clermont Ferrand (A71) and then the A75 south to St Flour – taking the road to Albi
By train: not on the main TGV routes, but you can travel direct from Paris Austerlitz and book your tickets from the UK and elsewhere at Rail Europe
Getting around: A car is essential – drive down or hire from the airport or railway station.