The Aubrac region in the Massif Central

Forge de Laguiole is located on a plateau of basalt and granite of breathtaking beauty

 plateau de l'Aubrac, tourisme en hiver La Forge de LAGUIOLE sur le plateur de l'Aubrac

Shaped by nature between 400 million and 245 million years BC, the Massif Central mountain range is a land of volcanoes. Composed of lava and granite and covering 11 départements including the Aveyron, the landscape of contrasts - whose often harsh seasons are a feature of the Aubrac region - is in fact a plateau with five peaks:  Signal de Mailhebiau (1 469 m), Puy d'Alteteste (1 448 mètres), Les Truques d'Aubrac (1 440 m), Puy de Gudette (1 427 m), Puy du Roussillon (1 407 m) and Mountasset (1 407 m).

Harsh landscapes, welcoming inhabitants   

Industry, agriculture, tourism... both summer and winter are busy season

The climate on the Aubrac plateau is harsh and often covered with snow in the winter. The inhabitants have adapted to the climatic conditions with the creation of several small family ski resorts including Laguiole, Brameloup, Nasbinals and Saint-Urcize. A happy outcome for the descendants of coalmen who traveled to Paris at the end of the 19th century to trade in coal, then wine. The "cafés-bois-charbon" (or coffee-wood-coal shops) thus came into being - the forerunners of the Parisian brasseries of today.

In summer the festivals are legendary. The region is covered with colourful wild flowers, and is the destination for hikes through meadows and summer pastures scattered with traditional barns, waterfalls and forests. And if a storm brews, tourists can seek refuge in any number of sites: The Château de la Baume, the cheese cooperative Jeune montagne de Laguiole, and of course the museum shop of the Forge de Laguiole. Armed with their handcrafted knife, they are ready to feast on an aligot, a typical dish from the region, a traditional blue cheese from Laguiole, meat from the Aubrac cows and a fouace, a local bread. Festivities inevitably culminate in a traditional dance, where everyone takes to the floor in time to the accordeon and bagpipes.

Brown Aubrac cows on a green and blue background

The breed almost died out, but Aubrac cows are now the ambassadors of the plateau

This magnificent mixed breed of cow raised for milk and beef almost died out in the 1970's. Its survival is thanks to a few visionary farmers who recognized its intrinsic qualities (rusticity, fertility, longevity) and excellent meat. The herds are to be found on the high pastures from May 25 to October 13, the traditional day that celebrates the migration of animals to higher pastures. 

You'll find plenty of opportunities to sample traditional celebrations and feasts in Aubrac, the region around Laguiole.