As a student in Toulouse, I often come back to Villeneuve d'Aveyron, this beautiful little medieval town where I come from. Looking through the Bastides and Gorges de l'Aveyron destination magazine, I see that the tourist office organizes nature walks on the causse. Needing a breath of fresh air after my exams and in love with my region, I took the opportunity and signed up!

It's 10 a.m., the day promises to be hot but the weather is still quite good. I find Ludovic, our guide, and a group of about ten people, including three children. The starting point is at the exit of the old town, in front of the village hall. Without telling us too much, Ludovic explains the course of the walk and invites us to question him at any time.

Dovecote on the causse

Let's go for the ride!

We immediately leave the paved road for a small stone path lined with charming dry stone walls. Ludovic tells us that we are walking in the footsteps of thousands of pilgrims, who have passed through Villeneuve d'Aveyron from Conques, and in the direction of Santiago de Compostela.

From vegetable to mineral: a whole heritage!

The first stop is at the entrance to a field, at the bottom of which is a charming dovecote. In the form of a quiz, we discover its characteristics and its original functions, some of which are quite surprising.

Ludovic gives us something to write about and invites us to write down anything that is potentially edible along the way. After about 200 meters, we take stock. Ok for the blackberries and noix… on the other hand many other things escaped me!

From the landscape is beautiful. Cultivated fields, dry stone walls, a cazelle... Ludovic lends us binoculars and explains to us that the bottom of the valley in the background is a huge geological fault tens of millions of years old. Rich in silver and copper ore, it was essential for the economic development of the region.

Closer to nature

The path continues in a more wooded area, where the freshness is very pleasant. We stop to listen to the sounds that surround us. Some are easily recognizable, others not...

We then enter the edge of a clearing and our guide invites us to sit in the grass. And there… nothing. Two minutes of pure happiness, simply listening to the surrounding nature… The chirping of birds, the rustling of wheat in the wind, the tractor in the distance. An invigorating little break!

Nature walk on the Causse de Villeneuve

Be in your element...

We leave the GR 36 to head back to the village. Don't worry, we're staying on the Causse paths! Passing in front of an old cazelle, Ludovic explains his role and teaches us the basics of dry stone construction. A manual workshop appreciated by all!

A few meters further, Ludovic takes out a small magnifying glass and invites us to approach the low wall. Nobody sees anything until 6-year-old Gabriel discovers an amazing rounded shape! In fact, it is a seashell fossil. Amazed, we learn that the sea covered this territory at the time of the Jurassic! And here we are drawing a gigantic aquatic creature with sharp teeth… occupying the place long before being replaced by the sheep!

The walk continues and we exchange, on the fauna, the flora, the region... Ludovic is inexhaustible!

I would never have thought that this seemingly simple rural landscape, surveyed since my childhood, would have so many things to tell.

West Aveyron Tourism
Tomb of the Giant in Villeneuve d'Aveyron

We arrive in front of a strange construction made of large blocks of limestone, some of which are vertical. Ludovic invites us to reconstruct the puzzle to show us what it is: a vestige of dolmen !

To my great surprise, I learn that the standing stones and dolmens, where the “peyrelevadas” in Occitan, are not contemporaries of the Gauls… Thank you Asterix for the anachronism!

Before arriving at the car park, Ludovic takes a strange little greasy plant on a dry stone wall and puts it in his mouth. He invites us to do the same: a taste of peas… Apparently, it's delicious in a salad… to be tested. I do not tell you his name and invite you to participate in the next nature walk !

1h45 ride, almost no elevation, sun, shade, small heritage and a good time: PERFECT!

Good to know

This nature walk is not a hike, we take the time to live, to appreciate the landscape and to discover the rich heritage, while having fun and in a good mood!

I would like to thank Ludovic once again for his kindness, his knowledge and his availability, which were appreciated by all the participants.

Opening hours July 03, 2024
Wednesday Open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Opening hours July 17, 2024
Wednesday Open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Opening hours July 31, 2024
Wednesday Open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Opening hours August 14, 2024
Wednesday Open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Opening hours August 28, 2024
Wednesday Open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Opening hours October 30, 2024
Wednesday Open from 15 a.m. to 17 p.m.

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