THE BEST WAY TO ROQUEFORT, FRANCE
By train, the fastest route is via daily TGV train from Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Montpellier, change in Béziers, and arrive in Millau about seven hours later. Roundtrip second-class tickets from $150; book at least a month ahead for lowest price on www.raileurope.com.
A car is best for reaching Roquefort, exploring the countryside, gorges and other sights, but I spent several days in Millau without a car, hiking, biking and exploring the town.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 33 (country code for France) and the local number.
WHERE TO GO
Société, Avenue Francois Galtier, Roquefort; 5-6559-9330, www.roquefort-societe.com. One-hour tour $3.50.
Papillon, 8 bis Avenue de Lauras, Roquefort; 5-6558-5000, www.roquefort-papillon.com. Free 40-minute tour.
Gabriel Coulet, 3 Avenue de Lauras, Roquefort; 5-6559-9021, www.gabriel-coulet.fr. Free self-guided tour in a "reproduction" cave.
Only Société and Papillon offer cave visits, followed by tastings. Tours are in French, with English information sheets available. The three largest producers are open daily, year-round from about 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m., with longer hours in summer. Smaller producers -- Carles, Les Fromageries Occitanes, Vernières Frères, Combes, and Le Vieux Berger -- all sell cheese but their caves are closed to the public.
WHERE TO STAY
Hôtel Emma Calvé, 28 Avenue Jean Jaurès, Millau; 5-6560-1349, www.millau-hotel-emmacalve.com. Central location with doubles from $78, and a restaurant serving local specialties.
Château de Creissels, Place du Prieur-Château de Creissels; 5-6560-1659, www.chateau-de-creissels.com. Just outside Millau, this 12th century chateau with a restaurant offers panoramic views. Doubles from $95. Closed January and February.
WHERE TO EAT
Millau's outdoor Friday morning market rivals anything in Provence. Many restaurants offer excellent value three-course menus from about $19, and the covered market is great for inexpensive meals. Le Buron fromagerie, at 18 Rue Droite, offers a dizzying array of local cheeses.
La Mangeoire, 10 Boulevard de la Capelle, Millau; 5-6560-1316, www.restaurantmillau.com. Watch the chef grill local lamb and beef specialties in romantic rooms with wood-beam ceilings. Set menus from $29.
La Braconne, 7 Place du Maréchal Foch, Millau; 5-6560-3093. Local specialties such as roast lamb or hare are served in a 13th century stone room with vaulted ceilings. The terrace overlooks the town's main square. Closed Sunday night and Monday. Entrees from $25.
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