We made three days to return from Spain to Switzerland. The first day has ended in Carcassone. The second day takes us to Albi, to Espalion and to Laguiole, where we spend another night. On the third day we just “eat up” kilometers on motorways and enter Switzerland on the Pas de Morgins.
Albi – town of the Cathars or Albigienses
In the pouring rain, we reach Albi located on the river Tarn. It was an important centre of the Cathars, also called Albigienses. The old city has mostly been built from red bricks and their cathedral Saint Cécile is made of the same material.
Inside the cathedral is painted in blue which gives it a harmonious atmosphere.
The choir and the stalls are a Unesco world heritage
In the pouring rain we do not feel like more sightseeing in this charming town and continue north.
Espalion – small town with old bridge
We continue north through the Causses plateau mountains. It is a rough landscape that the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela feared – for the wind, for the cold temperatures and also for the robbers.
The cities lie in the valleys. Espalion is one of these. The gothic bridge crosses the river Lot.
The shoreline of this small town is charming and so are the narrow streets, but the only one hotel in town is booked out. And – it is pouring with rain. We decide to continue to Laguiole.
Laguiole – the dynamic mountain village has a lot to offer – a discovery for me
Laguiole is a mountain village located in the Aubrac. The temperatures are now down to 9 degrees – it is chilly, rainy and misty. This is the impression from our evening walk.
Laguiole is famous for its high quality knives. Their speciality are the foldable knives – this is one of them with a damascene blade.
But they also have knives, forks and spoons for the table – beautifully designed by star designers. The village is full of knife shops (called “Coutellerie”). Also tours to factories are on offer.
In addition the Aubrac and Laguiole are famous for their regional “Aubrac” cattle, a robust species that is used for milk and meat production. The cattle is brown with a dark brown line decorating the border of the ears. This cattle enjoys an excellent diet of mountain herbs and delivers AOC cheese and savoury meat. The “Aubrac” cattle is so much valued that it has received a memorial in the village center.
In addition to the products of the Aubrac cows, the butchers also sell white ham and other specialties from pigs.
I bought some of their cooked white ham, and enjoyed it, when back home.
We find a room in the friendly Hotel de l’Aubrac. The house is also an excellent restaurant that serves tasty meals from regional products. We have a menu – this was my beef bourguignon made in wine and gentian liquor.
The people here know, how to make use of their natural products. The meal was authentic and well prepared. The beef was served with Aligot which is potato purée mixed with local cheese which gives it a firm texture. A red wine from Marcillac (some 50km south from Laguiole) was a perfect match with my beef. Ursula liked her pot-au-feu. An excellent choice of local cheese followed as part of the menu: Ecir (cow milk), a regional goat cheese and Roquefort (which originates not far from here). We top our meal with a sweet wine from Pellehaut (Gascogne, west of Toulouse, made out of Chardonnay and Petit Manseng; the latter can mature until December thanks to its hard skin; it is the basic ingredient of sweet wines in South West France and in North Spain).
The two star Hotel and Restaurant de l’Aubrac is a great place to stay – welcoming atmosphere, great dinner, good breakfast and quiet rooms.
Heading back to Switzerland and then to the Pas de Morgins
On the third day we head back to Switzerland – all on highways – and enter our country crossing the Pas de Morgins.
We give back the the apartment keys and thank our friends for having let us stay in their beautiful apartment in L’Hospitalet de l’Infant with its gorgeous view of the pine trees and the sea.