Hidden Paris: Auvergne – Aveyron

By Maite Selignan

People from Auvergne and Aveyron are forming the most important regional community of Paris. Therefore, there is no need to go far away to set a foot in Central France for their culture. The community, which is still very faithful to its traditions, is said to be "the first smile of French South," despite the Parisian fog.

 

What is the difference between Aveyron and Auvergne? Administratively speaking, Auvergne is a "region" and Aveyron is the "department" next to it. Socially speaking, they more or less have the same traditions, despite what they say of one another. Today, Aveyronnais and Auvergnats are extremely numerous in Paris. Most of them came in the 1870s, when the railroad reached their region. As agriculture was offering less and less work because of the coming of machines, people started to emigrate to the capital. Here is the start of the history of the Auvergnats and the Aveyronnais in Paris. Most of the men started as water carriers, then as "bougnats", meaning coalman. Most of them were living near Bastille, particularly along the Rue de Lappe. Little by little, while the men were delivering coal, the women opened small inns. But when gas started to heat the houses, the bougnats joined their wives behind the counter. Today, three quarters of the Brasseries and tabacs of Paris are run by Aveyronnais or Auvergnats.

 

One can wonder why this community is still that important in Paris today. Most of the Auvergnats and Aveyronnais of Paris were born in the capital. But they keep the tradition running, even miles away from their grandparents' countryside. Several folk groups can be found dancing every week in traditional costumes. Adults and children can learn the Langue D'Oc, the original language of Auvergne and Aveyron, thanks to several language clubs. Many feasts are also organized in Paris, where everyone is welcome.

 

Other activities from Aveyron were exported to Paris. Among them, playing skittles is Aveyronnais' favourite sport. Jean-Pierre Vic, who runs the Guingette Auvergnate, a charming restaurant on the Seine bank, believes that the skittles from Aveyron are the origin of bowling. "The only difference is the size of the ball," he says. "You keep it in the palm of your hand, instead of holding it with three fingers." To go to a feast, participate in the numerous outings or have a look at these famous skittles games, the best way is to buy local newspapers, such as L'Aveyronnais or L'auvergnat de Paris. You can find more information available at the Maison de l'Aveyron and the Maison de l'Auvergne, in the 1st arrondissement.

 

But the easiest glimpse you can get in Paris of Central France is probably, as usual, through food. Although many restaurants are run by the Aveyronnais, few of them are serving typical food. The best way to find the best addresses is to have a look at www.aveyron.com, a very useful website for more information. Among the Auvergants' favorite is La Galoche D'Aurillac, rue de Lappe. To take food home, A la Ville de Rodez will help you discover all the specialties of the region. And if you are lucky enough to be in Paris in the last weekend in May, have a go at the Marché Aveyronnais, on the boulevard de Reuilly, where producers come from central France to sell honey, charcuterie, prunes of Agen, Cognac, wines, foies gras and the famous aligot, composed of mashed potatoes and a special melted cheese. Simply enjoy!

 

Addresses
Maison de l'Aveyron
46 rue Berger
75001 Paris
Metro : Louvre-Rivoli
Tel : 01 42 36 84 22

 

Maison de l'Auvergne
194, bis rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris
Metro : rue du Bac
Tel : 01 53 63 11 50

 

Restaurants
La Galoche d'Aurillac
41, rue de Lappe
75011 Paris
tel :01 47 00 77 15

 

La Guingette Auvergnate
19 avenue de Choisy
94190 Villeneuve St Georges Triage
01 43 89 04 64

 

La Maison de l'Aubrac
37 rue Marboeuf
75008 Paris
Tel 01 43 40 12 24

 

L'Auberge Aveyronnaise
40 rue Gabriel lamé
75012 Paris
tel : 01 43 40 12 24

 

Shops
A la Ville de Rodez
22 rue Vieille du Temple
75004 Paris
tel : 01 48 87 79 36

 

La boutique du Bon Coin
49 rue des Cloys
75018 Paris
01 46 06 91 36

 

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