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A VISIT OF THE AVEYRON, IN SOUTHWEST FRANCE 

May 3 to 14, 2024

8 participants max

4 seats LEFT.

INCLUDED:

4 nights in Cransac ~ 1 night in Espalion ~ 1 night ner Millau - 2 nights near Sylvanes

~1 night in Albi ~ 1 night near Toulouse Airport

8 dinners - 9 lunches - 9 breakfasts - Books - Maps - Accident/sickness insurance

Transportation: Toulouse Airport and back + transportation all throught the tour, to all hotels and sites. 

State Licensed Architects and Interior Designers, also members of AIA, ASID, IIDA. IDCEC

can receive up to 24 hours of Continuing Education Credits., or more if needed.

 

(There are many European airports having direct flights to and from Toulouse:

Amsterdam, Brussels, Francfort, Geneva, Istanbul, Lisbon, Londres, Madrid, Montreal, Paris.

Look into Air Canada or Air Tansat to Montreal, then direct to Toulouse,

Lufthansa to Frankfort, then direct to Toulouse, TAP to Lisbon, then direct to Toulouse,

Air France/ KLM to Amsterdam, then direct flight to Toulouse.  

 

TWO SEATS LEFT out of FIVE

 

$2555 per person in double occupancy ~  $2855 supplement in single occupancy

PS: I have tried this company to get airline tickets for less. Sometimes, they do. I have no commercial interest with them. It is just a tip.

It is call ASAP TicketsServices

You can call either Ashanti at 855 803 8067 - ashanti.l@asaptickets.com Wed to Sun 07:00AM to 04:00PM EST 

or Blash at 844 859 5393 - blash.g@asaptickets.com

The motto of Aveyron is: "Always real." It is really true, because places, sites, villages, landscapes are the way they are, and a lot the way they were years and years ago.

That is what makes the charm and beauty of the Aveyron. It is one of the most beautiful "Department" of France, with less tourists, people who are very friendly, with forts, renaissance castles, gorgeous landscapes, very old churches, and 10 of the most beautiful villages of France.

Considering the weather pattern around our World, Aveyron is rather blessed for having less heat, a little of rain to keep things cool, and no fires.

Itinerary

Day ONE – Friday May 3, 2024:

You will be flying from the US to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS). Airline fare not included.

 

Day TWO – Saturday May 4, 2024: L1-D1

After arriving to Toulouse, you will be taken to your hotel in Cransac. Your hotel in is in a parc, with a large swimming pool, a bar and a restaurant. All the rooms have an en-suite bathrooms, and air condionned. Breakfasts will be at the hotel, but lunches and dinners will be taken in many diffenrent villages and cities.

On the way from the airport, we will stop in a small town, with an interesting architecture, some pleasant houses from the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as a large square surrounded by buildings on arched walkways, plus a very unusal church from the 13-14th Century.

 

 

Day THREE - Sunday May 5, 2024: B1-L2-D2

Belcastel is an amazing 1000-year-old fortress, that was a total ruin when an architect in 1973, Fernand Pouillon, fell in love with it.

With the help of ten Algerian masons, who quarried stones from a hill above the castle, during the next EIGHT years, they rebuilt all the walls and towers, without the use of cranes or machines. Glaziers lived and worked on the property while creating 85 windows with XVIth century hand-painted center panes. It was an amazing tour-de-force, that you will certainly appreciate. The castle is owned by an American lady, who had several art galleries in the US. The village of Belcastel is also on the list of Most Beautiful French Villages, a former stop on the road to Santiago de Compostela. On the banks of the Aveyron, stone houses and slate roofs rise in tiers at the foot of the fortified castle. 

 

The Chateau de Bournazel’s innovative architecture and the quality of its sculpted decoration makes it one of the most remarkable Renaissance châteaux in the South of France. Enriched with period furniture, objets d’art and paintings, this château and its garden plunge the visitor into the humanistic and literary atmosphere of the Renaissance. This is the story of a how a couple fell in love with a ruin, and decided to have it rebuilt the way it was during the French Renaissance period. They are still at it, after so many years, finishing the restoration of a major medieval tower.

Then we will go to Conques, a beautiful medieval village, that was an important stop for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostella

We will go there late in the afternoon, and have dinner, before visiting  St. Foy abbey-church, from the 15th century. Its tympanum of the Last Judgment, a true Romanesque art piece, is illuminated at night, reproducing the polychrome colors that originally decorated it, but were erased by time, winds, and rains. 

The one hundred and four church’s windows, were designed by Pierre Soulages, a French painter, printmaker, and sculptor, who died last October at the age of 102.  

Another day, we will visit his museum in Rodez, a building that brought the 2017 Pritzker Prize, to RCR arquitectes, Rafael Aranda, Carmen Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, from Girona, Catalonia, Spain.

Day FOUR – Monday May 6, 2024: B2-L3-D3

We will spend the day in Rodez, an ancient city with a fscinating history, visiting also its  beautiful Cathedral with intricate and complex decorations on the exterior, and many beautiful smaller chapels with frecoes, paintings and sculptures, inside.

An interesting Rodez museum, is the Musée Fenaille, about archeologie, a great place to look at menhirs closely, many being as old as 3000 years BC. It is the largest European collection of Menhirs. The other collections are about Prehistory, Ages of Metals, Classical Antiquities, Medieval Era, and the Renaissance, all related to the Aveyron area. 

The Musée Soulages is designed as a series of parallelepipedic volumes, respecting the landscape environment that surrounds it.

The intervals are also reminiscent of the traditional Aveyron fenestras, which offer a view of the horizon, and thus, are conducive to contemplation.

Open to the garden, the south facade does not exceed 10 feet, while to the north, the boxes are cantilevered above a walkway.

The cladding, which is also the architectural strength of this museum, is made of Corten steel, also called self-weathering steel. As it oxidizes, this material creates a protective patina, and the nuances of this steel evoke the work of Pierre Soulages.

Day FIVE: Tuesday May 7, 2024: B3-L4-D4

We will go to Villefranche-de-Rouergue, a beautiful bastide, a city built on a grid, like the center of Manhattan. Many historical movies have been shot there because it is really an exquisite town, with many interesting old structures, illustrating the history of Medieval and Renaissance architecture of the region. 

We will have lunch in Villefranche. On the way back, we will stop in a tiny little village that has a lot of charm.

Day SIX: Wednesday May 8, 2024: B4-L5-D5

We will visit a succession of some of the most beautiful villages of France: Bozouls, St-Geniez-d’Olt, St-Côme-d’Olt, Espalion, all having charm,  and their own personalities; and Estaing and his castle. We will have dinner in that pretty town, before staying 5 minutes away, in a typical Aveyron house, beautifully restored to accommodate us for the night, in room with ensuite bathrooms.

Day SEPT: Thursday May 9, 2024: B5-L6-D6

From Estaing, we will go to visit the tallest bridge in the World, the Millau Viaduc, designed in 2004, by the British architect, Norman Foster. Someone, from the company which built it, will take us on a tour, explaining how such an amazing architectural marvel was built.  

It is the road bridge with the highest pile-pylon assembly in the world (P2: 1125.33 ft) and the two highest piles in the world (P2 = 803.806 ft and P3 = 725.066 ft).

I drove on that bridge a few times, under a clear blue sky, while the clouds were stationarry under the viaduc.

Then we will go to Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where the famous cheese is made with sheep’s milk. EU law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognised geographical indication, and has a protected designation of origin. The cheese are left uncovered in the caves for at least three weeks, during which the Penicillium Roqueforti Fungus, in the floor of the caves, spred iself naturally into the cheese. Then, the cheeses are wrapped and stored for another three months, to reach maturity. The caves are a sight to see, worth the time, and a piece of that fabulous cheese.

Then we will drive to a remarkable area, Rougier de Camares, a 656 square miles of a purple, crimson, brick, nasturtium, rust, orange, mustard and ocher landscape, created 250 million years ago, covered by a  shallow sea. When the sea receded, it left behind skeletons of corals and marine creatures, that had accumulated on the seabed over the millennia, forming a sedimentary layer that solidified. Successive droughts and floods triggered oxidation of the iron-saturated clay sediments, giving the area those extraordinary arrays of colors.

We will spend the next two nights in an ancient farmhouse, in a quiet setting, well restored,  with your room having an ensuite bathroom. 

We will have dinner prepared by the owners, proud to share the region specialties.

 

Day EIGHT: Friday May 10, 2024: B6-L7-D7

After look at the Rougier de Camares. we will visit, the Chateau de Montégut, which was another ruin of a fortress, rebuilt by volunteers. Their work was amazing, historically correct, and of quality.

Then, on to the Sylvanes Abbey, a monastic community founded in 1136 by Pons de l’Héras. Daughter of the abbey of Mazan (direct granddaughter of Cîteaux), its foundation is concomitant with those of Bonneval, Thoronet and Sénanque, during the peak period of the order. A jewel of Cistercian art, the abbey has one of the largest Romanesque naves in France, giving it exceptional acoustics that offers the human voice power, clarity, and fullness.

The French Revolution marked the end of monastic activity and the requisition by the State as national property. Part of the abbey was dismantled, the other became an agricultural building and a sheepfold. Classified as a historic monument in 1854, the abbey was bought by the municipality of Sylvanès in 1970 and has experienced an exceptional rebirth since 1975.  

Cistercian architecture, is marked by the quality of the construction and the materials used. It is based on the purity and harmony of the volumes. It spread throughout Europe from the 12th century and took the Abbey of Clairvaux as a model, for which Saint Bernard developed the construction program. The plan, known as "Bernardin,"  applied to Sylvanès, results from three choices: - the reduction of the length, the width, and the height, in opposition to the dimensions deemed excessive of the Cluniac churches. - rectangularity, which eliminates the curves of the plan to reserve them for the vault. - hearing, which holds a privileged place in the teachings of Saint Bernard

It is because of its amazing accoustics, that the Abbey organises a fantastic festival of music, from mid-July to the end of August. The eclectic program changing every year, propose classical music, operas, jazz, and this year a Sacred Gypsy music recital, as well a  concert of Mongolian chants. The organ in the church is the largest in Southern France.

The windows at the Sylvanes Abbey, are the creation of the Lyonnais artist Jean-François Ferraton, associated with the workshop of the master glassmaker Philippe Brissy, both wanting the windoes to be inspired by the Cistercian rule and spirituality. The stained glass windows did respect the sobriety and the simplicity of the building while magnifying its natural luminosity which varies according to the hours of the day and the seasons. They were installed in 2018. 

After, we will visit the delightful small Russian Chapel near-by.

A surprising wooden church in the Russian Orthodox style, is a veritable "wooden cathedral" worthy of those of Kiji.

Built in Russia, transported and reassembled in France by young Russian carpenters, it offers, in the eastern chapel, a "beautiful iconostasis" as well as a rich collection of festive icons. The western chapel contains two exceptional Flemish works from the 15th century.

Then we will back to the farmhouse for the night after dinner in a small town.

 

Day NINE: Saturday May 11, 2024: B7-L8

We will go to Albi, a beautiful city on the river Tarn, all built with bricks from the earth around the the twon and on the banks of the river. 

Albi is famous for at least two things, that are both really interesting and even worth every minutes spent there. 

First, is the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral, very original by its architecture, the largest brick cathedral in the World.  Inside, 199,132 sq ft of high quality frescoes make it the largest painted cathedral in Europe. It is imbued with the artistic talent of Renaissance painters. It took 200 years to built it, starting in 1282.

The fortress look of that church was a symbol of force promulgated by the Church of Rome, during a dark period in the history of Southwest France, known as the Albigensian Crusade or the Cathar Crusade, lasting from 1209 to 1244. The inquisition of the population, was a widely used concept to try to find where Cathars were hiding. 

I will tell you about that period, which for a long time, was not  part of the schools' curriculum.

After, and next door in what was the Episcopal Palace, is the Toulouse Lautrec Museum.  Henri-de- Toulous-Lautrec's mother had an intense desire to see her son's work presented to the public. She worked hard at having the largest collection in the World of Henri-de-Toulouse-Lautrec's works, in such a beautiful building with great architectural qualities. The museum also presents many other art works from different artists, from other periods, worth spending time looking at them. Dinner on your own

Day TEN: Sunday May 13, 2024: B8-L9-D8

We will visit one of the top most beautiful village in France, which is only 15 miles away from Albi, Cordes sur Ciel.

Later, we will have dinner before staying in a nice hotel,  near the Toulouse airport, to make sure everyone will only be a few minutes from the terminals.

 

Day ELEVEN: Monday 14, 2024: B9

Sadly, you will be leaving, and be home by late afternoon. Hopefully you will have enjoyed that part of France, and may want to come back soon, because there at least three other areas close by, that are also fascinating and beautiful. You will taken to the terminal.

State Licensed Architects and Interior Designers, also members of AIA, ASID, IIDA. IDCEC

can receive up to 24 hours of Continuing Education Credits., or more if needed.

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