Aubrac : a village perched on the plateau

Aubrac is a village in the municipality of Saint Chely d’Aubrac, in the Aveyron department, France. It is located on the way to Santiago de Compostela. That small village was built in the XIII century thanks to a cloistered hospital called “La domerie d’Aubrac”. The name stayed through the years. In French this name usually means “a high location”. Aubrac is 1310 meters above the see level and is the highest village of Aveyron and one of the highest villages of the Massif Central. 20 kilometres away you can also find the village called Laguiole. The Laguiole knife is called after the village since 1829.

In 1120 the monks built the monastery and the hospital in order to help the pilgrims in this wild region. In 1953 the monastery was completed with a 30 meters high tower intended to fight against the brigands. They used to come all over the region. The tower also intended to fight the exaction of the English: the tower is still today called the English Tower.

From the cloistered hospital we can nowadays see:
– The English tower
– Some buildings of the ancient hospital
– The Church Notre-Dame-des-pauvres

The bell tower of the church accommodates a “Maria” bell also called “Bell of the lost”. This area is favourable for loneliness. Moreover, the climate can be very harsh especially because of the wind from the north: they bring snow during the entire winter. The pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela could find board and lodging in the welcoming place thanks to the ring bell.

During the 1890, Dr Saunal advised patients to do some sojourn in high places in order to cure some pulmonary diseases. In 1902, Aubrac inaugurates a sanatorium where the therapy clients could enjoy an “air therapy” and a special milk called “gaspe” in Occitan. This milk is made from Laguiole cheese.

In the middle of the XXth century they stopped the cure and a big rural exodus happened. In the meantime, the traditional production decreased fast until it stopped. The commercial activity has been stopped at this period.

On their way to Santiago de Compostela the pilgrims come from Nasbinals and they walk along the pastures on the high plateau of Aubrac. They use the ancient ways called « drailles » where men and herds used to walk.

In Aubrac there is no corner shop. Tourism is the most important commercial activity nowadays. Many tourists come in the Aubrac region to visit a village called Laguiole. Laguiole is known since decades for its famous cutlery. The Laguiole knife is used by sheperds since 200 years. A big celebration happens at the beginning of May when the herds go from the village to the plateau: it’s called transhumance.

In 2000, the trade unions of the municipalities of Aubrac created « The House of the Aubrac ». The goal is to present the Plateau of Aubrac through exhibitions, scenographies, activities… Next to this place you can find a botanic garden in which there are about 650 vegetal species. They can all be found in the natural habitat of the region Aubrac.

Next to the village Aubrac, we can find a stone cross called “Cross of the 3 bishops”. It is located at the intersection of 3 departments (Aveyron, Cantal and Lozère) and 3 regions (Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc Roussillon). Aubrac is located in the region of Aveyron, as is Laguiole and they are both emblematic villages of the region. However, the manufacture of the Laguiole knife is shared between Thiers in Auvergne and Laguiole.