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Villefranche de Rouergue - a typically French town

The town of Villefranche de Rouergue, found in the Aveyron department of southern France, is typically French and charmingly unspoiled by commercialism and tourist excesses. A beautiful example of a bastide town (that is, a town built on a grid pattern with the ability to withstand attack being its raison d'etre), Villefranche has lovely arcaded central square and traditional French shops, rather than the mass of gift shops that tend to besmirch many such mediaeval tourist traps.

Wealthy past

Villefranche de Rouergue was once a rich silver and copper mining town, and evidence of its wealthy past is found in the grand and elegant merchants' houses that are still very much a part of this town. The houses here are larger and taller than those that are usually found in bastide towns, and this emphasises the wealth of the original inhabitants. Its cathedral, which really dominates the main square, is certainly worth a visit, and among the features especially worthy of admiration is the superb stained glass window that was added in the 15th century.

Historical and interesting

There are many historical or simply fascinating parts of the town to discover, such as the old bath and shower rooms, the elaborate decoration of the façades of the buildings, the quaint little streets and the unusual jazz collection to be found in the "Médiatèque" on the rue Sénéchal.

The River Aveyron

The town lies on the River Aveyron, and this adds considerable charm to the overall picture. Its wide, tranquil waters glide through the town, crossed by beautiful old stone bridges which also form a great vantage point from which to view Villefranche from a different perspective. The riverside is a wonderful place for that romantic evening stroll.

Great atmosphere and most amenities

There is a great atmosphere to Villefranche de Rouergue, especially on market day, which is Thursday in this town. There is no better way to spend a morning than browsing the colourful stalls in the summer sunshine, then settling under the shade of the ancient arcades to have a restorative cup of coffee, or perhaps even a glass of local wine. Villefranche has most things you will need, with shops, supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, cash points and services for education and health.

Out and about

If you wish to explore further afield, and you really should try to see more of this lovely region, a trip to the amazing Millau (pronounced Mee-oh) Bridge is certainly worth making. The departmental capital, or prefecture, of Rodez is just a little further up the river from Villefranche de Rouergue, and is also good to visit, being excellent for shopping and heritage.

How to get there

There is a railway station in the town, so if you take the TGV to Toulouse you can transfer to a local train to arrive at your destination. Air travel is another possibility and the nearest airport is Toulouse. (The airport at Rodez currently has no direct flights to/from the UK.)

Property prices and availability in and around Villefranche de Rouergue

Property in the Aveyron used to be considered very cheap, but prices have risen sharply in recent years as more and more buyers have discovered this lovely area, thanks perhaps to its increased accessibility by both air and rail. Property here can still represent good value, however, in comparison with many parts of France. The area is a good place to look for a restoration project, as there are many fine old buildings on the market that are perfect candidates to be turned into prime residences by those with a little cash and a lot of vision.

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Villefranche de Rouergue AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Villefranche de Rouergue?

Villefranche de Rouergue is situated in the south of France. It lies in the west of the Aveyron department.

Villefranche de Rouergue Property Map


Midi-Pyrénées Guide

Midi-Pyrénées Property Map


Aveyron Guide

  Aveyron Map

Population: 11,919

Access: By air: Fly to Toulouse with a variety of airlines. By rail: The TGV stops at Toulouse, and from here there is a local connection to the railway station at Villefranche de Rouergue.

Economy: The economy is mixed, with agriculture still important. Originally the town became wealthy through silver and copper mining.

Interesting fact: Villefranche de Rouergue is said to be one of the most authentic and unspoiled bastide towns in south-west France. Despite its popularity with tourists, the town has resisted the temptation to offer tourist type shops and attractions.


Sextant France
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