The south of the Massif Central
departments of Lot,
Aveyron, Lozère and Ardèche
the southern edge of the Massif
The four departments of the southern Massif Central, the LALA fringe,
constitute one of the wildest and most sparsely populated areas of
France, stretching from the Lot
in the west, through Averyron and Lozère in the middle,
to the Ardèche
in the east.
While the Lot and the western Aveyron, in the west, bordering on the
gentle countryside of southwest France, are milder and greener areas,
the limestone highlands, stretching from the Aveyron
through the Lozère
and to the Ardèche
offer a wild landscape, where the bedrock is seldom far below the
surface. In the past, agriculture in this region was very poor, and the
arid steppes of the area known as the "Causses
little more than subsistance farming and the rearing of sheep. Perhaps
the most famous product of the area is Roquefort
celebrated blue cheese made from ewe's milk.
On the upland marches of the
Aveyron and the Lozère, the Aubrac plateau is an upland area of
forests and open prairies, famed for its cattle.
large areas, the land is covered by scrub and woodland, and the region
is penetrated by deep river gorges, notably the "Ardèche gorges" and
the "Tarn gorges" in the Aveyron and Lozère, the most spectacular
canyon in France. Reintroduced in the late 20th century, vultures have
now reestablished a presence in this area, drawing in bird-watchers
form far afield. The pilgrimage village of Rocamadour, in the Quercy,
is one of the most visited sites in France. Until the opening of the
A75 motorway with its celebrated "Tarn
the highest bridge in Europe, the region suffered from serious problems
of accessibility. But today access is no problem.
There is not a lot of holiday
accommodation in this
area: most of the gites and cottages are geared for people wanting to
relax well away from the stresses of city life, or enjoy outdoor
pursuits in the wide open spaces of the uplands.
Getting to the south of the
from Calais or Lille: 9 to 12 hours under normal
driving conditions, depending on destination. Access via A20 (west),
A71/A75 (middle), or Lyon and A7 (south) See Driving in France
Peripheral airports: Limoges, Toulouse, Béziers, Montpellier, Lyon.