The Larzac is a limestone plateau with underground galleries, avens (chasms), caves, lakes and rivers covering 1,000km² of south Aveyron. It is renowned for its stunning lunar landscapes with natural rock formations resembling ruins, its ancient pastoral civilisation which shaped the vast open spaces and its remarkable biodiversity which includes the Cardabelle (now a protected plant species) and majestic birds of prey like kites, vultures, snake eagles and falcons, including rare and threatened species.
The Larzac has an illustrious history too, marked by the mysterious Knights Templar and Hospitaller between the 12th and 18th centuries and more recently as the theatre of action by militant farmers and the alter-globalisation movement. The plateau is part of the Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses which is responsible for the protection and promotion of inhabited rural areas and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. In fact, the Causse du Larzac is brimful of natural, cultural and architectural treasures waiting to be explored !
The Causse du Larzac is a great place for history enthusiasts with many architectural gems inherited from the Knights Templar and Hospitaller including the Remparts de la Cavalerie, heritage of a troubled past, the fortified village of La Couvertoirade, Commanderie de Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon, the Tower at Viala-du-Pas-de-Jaux, known as the ‘Lighthouse of Larzac’ and Fort de Saint-Jean d'Alcas, a stronghold run by women !
All of the picturesque villages of Larzac are definitely worth visiting ! Nant with its covered marketplace, numerous Romanesque churches, Chapelle des Pénitents and Pont de la Prade bridge in the middle of a leafy valley ; Saint Martin du Larzac, its dolmens, chapel and troglodyte refuge (Les Baumes) and many other places. The area is also rich in museums, an alternative way to understand the culture of Larzac, including the Musée des Traditions du Sud-Aveyron at Sauclières devoted to village life in days gone by and the Centre Archéologique et Géologique du Larzac which takes visitors back to Gallo-Roman times.