Want adventure? Explore the Bastides and Gorges of Aveyron by van. Three days on the pretty roads of Western Aveyron in Van Life mode, between viewpoints, villages of character and unmissable sites.

What is Van Life?

The Van Life is having a little home on wheels that takes you anywhere. This way of life is attracting more and more people with its many advantages. But before taking the plunge, fitting out your van and then setting off on the roads of France and Navarre, it is sometimes good to try out the experience first: that is the subject of this article!

The stay: practical side
Length of stay: 3 days and 2 nights
Distance to cover on the route: about 100 km
Chosen service provider: La Petite Vadrouille
Departure and arrival point: Villefranche de Rouergue
The Little Mop
Van La Petite Vadrouille at Saut de la Mounine

Meeting with the van

La Small Mop is an adorable blue-green Volkswagen van directly inspired by the 70s made available by Hotel Les Fleurines de Villefranche de Rouergue: a wheeled room that gives you all the comfort you need to travel the roads of Aveyron. Are you ready to follow us? We already are! Here we go !

14 p.m.: Alli, my friend, joins me directly at Villefranche-de-Rouergue. I pick it up at the station and we go up on foot to quietly reach the Hôtel des Fleurines: our place of departure for the next 3 days.

On site, Jessica welcomes us warmly! Our house on wheels awaits us just outside the entrance. The van is even nicer in person! Jessica makes the presentations and gives us some advice on the unmissable destinations.

On their site there is already a pre-established route over 7 days and usually they give a roadbook to follow. But for us, I admit to having already studied our route (It's the advantage of living in the region). However, I will add a couple of his recommendations!

Day 1: head to the Causse de Villeneuve d'Aveyron by van

15 p.m.: it's time to leave, and fully live this Van Life experience. The shapes of the Villefranchoise bastide fade little by little in our rear-view mirror and we come to the causes. First, I want to show my friend Villeneuve d'Aveyron. This city built over two centuries impresses me each time with its architectural differences. This is especially evident in church. The latter also houses medieval frescoes on the theme of the road to Santiago de Compostela. Between pilgrims and Vanlifeurs, we have things in common, right? After this stroll through the alleys, we visit the Jean-Marie Perier Gallery ! 200 shots of the famous photographer are exhibited there. In a Yéyé atmosphere, we contemplate Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Françoise Hardy, Alain Delon. All these portraits of stars are splendid!

18 p.m.: We leave the Gallery and its celebrities to reach our evening drop-off point: le leap of the Mounine ! This natural site overlooking the Lot is impressive. The view is superb!

We ordered Jessica a “Aveyron gourmet pack” (for 60€): perfect for tonight's meal, we just have to sit down to eat!

It is with these good products and this preserved environment that our first day on the road will end.

Aveyron gourmet pack from La Petite Vadrouille

Day 2: the route of the bastides by van

8 a.m.: Wake up early in the morning with the superb panorama which is offered to us! By opening the door of the Van you can smell the good smell of the countryside in the early morning, the song of the birds, the bleating of the herds around. We prepare a small coffee in the kitchen of the Van and all these elements together are undoubtedly the best to start the day in a good mood.

Yesterday, Jessica advised us to visit the prehistoric cave of Foissac about ten kilometers from here. This will be our first visit of the day!

We put away the Van, we check not to leave anything on the spot and we get ready before hitting the road again!

11 a.m.: The discovery of this cave leaves us speechless. About 1 hour underground, cut off from the outside world... What happiness! We contemplate the amazingly shaped concretions while following our guide who teaches us more about the discovery of the cave, its history and its particularities.

As we go back to the surface, we realize that the hour of noon will not be long. To refuel, we go down to Villefranche. I know that on a Saturday morning small market stands in Notre Dame Square! Just enough to do for our future meals.

13 p.m.: to eat with a beautiful view, I decide to take my friend Alli to the Calvary ! This perched chapel of Villefranche offers a beautiful view of the city.

Once up there, we park in a dirt parking lot with the van and take out our outdoor table. We prepare a salad with freshly bought fresh market products and we take advantage of this new spot.

16 p.m.: after this meal and above all a good nap, we decide to leave for our evening stage which will be: Najac !

Villefranche de Rouergue from the Calvary

Head to Najac!

To get there from Villefranche I choose the road that passes through Orlhonac, Monteils and Mazerolles. The arrival on Najac by there is spectacular because this road is a balcony on the village.

The Storytellers
Pont Saint Blaise, on the way to Compostela in Najac

We choose to post at St. Blaise Bridge. This little Romanesque bridge is just the width of our vehicle: 2.20m! In a Motorhome you shouldn't risk it, but with Petite Vadrouille you can sneak in everywhere.

After parking the van, we decide to walk a little on the banks of the Aveyron. Going south, the village narrows and we enter the gorges. At the end of the day as now, it is very pleasant to walk there.

18 p.m.: Back in the van, two choices are available to us: bivouac like the night spent on the banks or go to the campsite or to the motorhome service area. To fully live this experience, we decide to stay where we are.

The van is equipped with an outdoor shower: after this day we use it then move on to preparing the meal, with our products from the Villefranche market. By the river and sheltered by the trees, the evening cools off enough and we decide to cook hot and eat in the van. Everything has been studied inside and it's very pleasant: you feel like in a little cocoon !

Day 3: Najac, in the heart of the Aveyron gorges

9 a.m.: this second awakening in the van is just as pleasant as the first! On the edge of river as here we are lulled by the gurgling of water flowing all night and at this hour we hear a few kayakers pass.

10 a.m.: strongly motivated on this Sunday morning, we decide to reach the perched village of Najac by a path that allows us to connect the Pont St Blaise to the lower district of La Pause.

I thus make my friend discover the village: district of the break, St John's Church, fortress, Governor's House and finally we go back to the Place du Faubourg with its Sunday market! Believe us, it's climbing! But what joy to survey the site in this way!

After a lunch served on the terrace, we decide to return to the van but this time we go through the path of the Gabanel fountain! This quickly brings us back to the banks and from there we join the Van.

16 p.m.: It's time to reach Villefranche and bring the Van back to the Hôtel des Fleurines. On site, Romain is waiting for us this time. We collect our personal belongings and return the keys. Bye The Little Mop !

These three days were exceptional! We had a wonderful experience with my friend, and as we return to the station we are already remembering these moments with the certain desire to leave again one day…

Does the experience tempt you? Book your van

California Coast Wolksvagen model, the small mop van will seduce you with its very compact and handy size, perfect for traveling the roads of Aveyron.

The vehicle is equipped with every comfort, and we have added leisure equipment such as the inflatable paddle to enjoy our lakes.

17 boulevard Haute Guyenne
12200 Villefranche-de-Rouergue
Calculate my route

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we cook in the van?

Yes, the van is equipped with a sink, gas burners and a 42 liter fridge.

Can we shower in this van?

An outdoor shower allows you to shower, this one uses the 30 liter tank of water.

Is the van equipped with WC?

Yes, chemical toilets.

Where to find service areas for vans and motorhomes?

Find the list of service areas of the destination of the Bastides and Gorges of Aveyron.


About Clemence

Originally from the Pyrenees, I arrived in the region by chance. I found in the Bastides and Gorges of Aveyron a wild and heritage region that made me stay. To be able to walk both in narrow gorges which
reminds me of my mountains or on airy causses is what I like the most! Although the local cuisine also interests me, farçous, spit cakes, aligot: even a vegetarian finds happiness...
Every day for work I cross the centuries over my guided tours: you never get bored in West Aveyron!

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