Laguiole is a perched village with a purpose in the less explored Aveyron department. Not only is it a scenic well-laid out walking town, but there are numerous sites to visit and much to learn.

The air is fresh and pure with vistas in all directions. Saint Matthew’s church is located on the highest knoll and worth the trek up. There are benches for sitting and gazing out over the small farms sprinkled with Aubrac cows. Face another direction to appreciate the sturdy granite buildings, topped with slate roofs, that comprise the village. We brought our freshly baked croissants up with us one morning to sit and relax in the morning sun.

Laugiole is known for taureau, and a large bronze sculpture of “the bull” dominates the Place du Taureau where a weekly outdoor market is held. Many restaurants offer the Aubrac beef, prepared in various ways.

Laguiole is also the name of a cheese made locally from the Aubrac cows. The Coopérative Fromagère offers an informative self-guided tour of the cheese-making process along with samples. You can compare the milder taste of four-month aged cheese with cheese that has been aged longer, up to two years. Also worth sampling is Tome de l’Aubrac, used in Aligot, a traditional dish prepared with mashed potatoes and served in all the restaurants.

Perhaps Laguiole is best known for knives, and knife shops abound. There are also several forges that offer guided tours with informative presentations. By visiting several shops and asking pertinent questions, one begins to make sense of the beauty and price range of these works of art. We were cautioned to obtain a certificate of authenticity if we made any purchases.

For a town with a population of approximately 1,200 people, there are numerous places to stay and eat. We chose Hotel-Restaurant Gilles Moreau, well situated near the center of town with upscale decor, excellent food and hospitable proprietors.

Jo Anne Marquardt is the author of My Trip Around the Hexagon: Meandering in France and Falling in Love with France, both available at Amazon.com. Her first published book, Falling in Love with France, offers responses to the various questions friends and family have asked her over the years about why she visits France so often. The second book includes illustrations and descriptive notes from her travel journals.

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