Introduction to the Aubrac
The Aubrac stretches over 3 “departements” : Lozère, Cantal, Aveyron.
The Aubrac is named after the ancient medieval monastery “Dômerie d’Aubrac” which is situated at 1350 metres. The word Aubrac comes from ‘Alto-Braco’ which means ‘High Spot’.
Because of its isolated situation, twisty and narrow roads, the Aubrac has preserved its beauty in nature, architecture and culture.
The major annual folk event is “la transhumance” wich perpetuates the ancient traditions of rural life (herds walking up to the summer pastures) and attracts many visitors who want to see the presentation of the Aubraccow breed,
listen to folk music, taste local dishes…
Until approximately 1000 AD, the Aubrac was covered with beeched and fir forests. These woods gave shelter to the men to the highway men so they could hide without being disturbed. These men robbed the pilgrims from Puy-en-Velay to Saint James’ shrine in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. (…)
There are some remnants of the ancient monastery : the Roman church, a building dating from the XV century turned into a forest house, the square tower named “la Tour aux Anglais” which was supposed to be built around 1350 to protect the Dômerie from the Englis attacks during the hundred years’ war.
Around their Abbey, the monks cleared the woods little by little to cultivate them. But in this high altitude cereals didn’t grow well. On the other hands, grass was growing well. that’s why the land turned into pastures The Aubrac, a robust cattle-breed was born. (…)
Laguiole cheese is still made with raw and full-cream cow-milk. It used to be made in
“Mazucs” (boothies or mountains huts) scattered, on the Aubrac pastures.
As for Aligot, it was served to the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. When they arrived at “La Dômerie d’Aubrac”, they were exhausted and starving. they knocked at the door of the monastery and asked for “Aliquid”, which meant ‘something to eat’ in Latin. Over the years, this word has become “Aliquot” then Aligot in Occitan, the local language.
Aubrac culture heritage
The Aubrac plateau is a key storage of biodiversity as far as fauna and flora are concerned. Il also has a remarkable cultural heritage such as the beautiful Roman church dating from XI century, in Nasbinals. Its solid octogonal steeple was put up at the intersection of the arms of the Latin cross.
No matter where you are walking, following the way to Santiago de Compostela, walking along little footpaths or the Via Podensis, you will inevitably come across bridges, fountains, crosses, traves, wash houses, boothies -which also make the Aubrac heritage.
Traditions in the Aubrac
A major folk event on the Aubrac is “la transhumance”. Formerly, wild herds used to graze from grassy pastures to grassy pastures. They used to walk up the tracks to the high altitude pastures in the Massif Central. over thousands years, they have marked the tracks between the bushes and have formed the paths which are called “drailles”.
Later on, men became shepherds and took the cattle up to the pastures. So, on Saint Urbain’s day, the cowsheds were emptied, the cows groomed and decorated with plumes, pompoms, flowers, ribbons, leaves. The shepherds used to leave to take them to the summer pastures on May 25th.
There they were staying until Saint Guiral’s day, October 13th. In the meanwhile, cows and calves were minded by “les buronniers” (the shepherds) who were linving in “burons” (boothies). What used to be a hut slowly turned into a more solid and slate-roofed low building.
That was the place where Laguiole cheese was made and allowed to mature in the cellar of the buron. And to quench one’s thirst, two drinks were made up there : “le thé d’Aubrac”, a savory (calamintha grandiflora) tea and the Aubrac gentian, a drink served before a meal.