Rodez Tourist Attractions
Rodez Airport provides a very important gateway to the city of Rodez and to the Aveyron department of France, and is one of the smaller French airports handling around 140,000 passengers per annum. It is located just 12km, or 7 miles from Rodez, and is well equipped for the arrival of its passengers. The city of Rodez and the surrounding areas are steadily becoming a more popular tourist destination, and feature more attractions than most people realise. Rodez attractions are quite plentiful, and include museums, historical sights and some spectacular religious buildings.
Rodez city is found in the southern Midi-Pyrénées region of France, and is a relatively small city, with a population of only around 25,000. It was founded by the Celts, and has been in existence from at least the fifth century BC. Traditionally, it is an agricultural trade centre. It is also a city which boasts one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country, of under 5%. A Bosch factory nearby employs over 2,000 of the city’s residents. Rodez has a prominent location at the foot of the Massif Central, and within easy driving distance of both sea and mountains. It is a most picturesque region, and Rodez, the capital city of the Aveyron department, is surrounded by several villages and communities which contribute to the city as a tourist destination. Rodez could be the ideal holiday for anyone who enjoys both city and countryside attractions, and a good base for travellers who would like to further explore the beautiful region.
The river Aveyron is one of the attractions of Rodez, flowing along the city’s eastern edges. In Rodez the river is bordered by some fine man-made buildings, but towards the outskirts of the city the river becomes a more natural attraction, where more plants and animals can be seen. The main Rodez attraction is the Rodez Cathedral, or the Notre Dame Cathedral, found at Boulevard Flaugergues. It is probably the most impressive building in the city, with a wonderful and tall façade on its western side that is completely integrated into the walls which were built for the defence of the olden days residents. The cathedral is built of red sandstone and dates back to 1277, and features a rood-screen from 1470, a magnificently carved organ case and some of the largest and most beautiful stained glass windows in the region. The bell tower is from 1510, and stands 87 metres tall.
Additional buildings well worth a visit in Rodez include the Maison Molinier, an old canonical house from the fifteenth century, the Maison de Benoît, a private Renaissance dwelling, and the Hôtel Delauro, from the seventeenth century. The old town part of Rodez is where many of the historic sights and buildings can be admired, including the old Jesuit College and the Bishop’s Palace. Much of the area is restricted for pedestrians only, and on foot is perhaps the best way to take in what the town has to offer. Tourist guides are available, or you can explore on your own, by following the signs. In the old town is the Fenaille Museum, which is all about the history of the Rouergue province, now known as Aveyron. It features one of the largest collections of Menhir statues in France, and is housed in a beautiful Renaissance mansion. Rodez museums also include the Denys Puech Museum, or the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring a great deal of interesting paintings, and the Municipal Museum, with treasures that depict the history of the area. This museum takes you on a journey from the time of the earliest settlements, right up to how the city is now in the modern world.
Besides the Rodez historical and religious attractions, the city is a wonderful place to dine with the locals and enjoy a vibrant nightlife. There is no shortage of cafés and restaurants which cook up a feast every day of the week. The area is renowned for its famous Roquefort or Bleu des Causes cheeses, and the red wines from Marcillac. The Rodez open-air market is a must to visit as well. It is held on Wednesday mornings in Place du Bourg, on Friday afternoon and evening on the Parking du Sacré Cœur, and on Saturday mornings it spreads into Place de la Cité and Place Emma Calvé, behind the cathedral. The regional market is also held in Rodez, and is one of the highlights of the social calendar of the town. Around mid-June a music festival referred to as Skabazac takes place, attracting tens of thousands of people, and in midsummer is the Occitan festival, known as Estivada. It promotes the Occitan culture with food, cultural displays and live music.
Although Rodez attractions are plentiful, the surrounding area is not to be missed, in particular the Millau Viaduct, nearby Millau to the south-east of Rodez. It was designed by Norman Foster, a British architect, and by Michel Virlogeux, a French structural engineer, and is considered as the second tallest bridge in the world. The huge bridge crosses a deep valley, and offers some spectacular views below and of the surrounding countryside. The bridge is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Montpellier. The royal fortress of Najac is another outstanding attraction nearby, built in 1253. It is a castle with towers at each corner, and features a secret corridor linking the Romanesque tower to the chapel of the keep and a world record with its 6.80 metre high aperture for archers.
Details for all these attractions and more can be found at the information counters, and the main tourist information centre in the city of Rodez can be found at the Office du Tourisme du Grand Rodez, Place Foch. Their telephone number is +33 565 75 76 77.