Still in Aveyron, it's worth seeking out a museum unparalleled anywhere in France: the Musée du Scaphandre in Espalion, which contains a collection of 19th century diving equipment. This town, a staging post on the St James's Way pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, is a long way from the sea, and yet it was here that the first autonomous diving suit was developed by locals Benoît Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze.
Another museum with a unique subject matter is the Musée Européen d’Art Campanaire in Lisle-Jourdain (Gers), dedicated to the familiar and yet little-known world of bells, which in different eras and civilisations have been symbols of power, justice and ritual practices. One of the star exhibits in this museum is the carillon from the Bastille Prison, listed as a Historical Monument.
The Lot département also has an unusual attraction: the Musée des Automates in Souillac, which essentially features the remarkable collection of mechanical figures made by Ateliers Roullet Decamps in the 19th and 20th century, which will fascinate both children and adults.
Something to make you laugh and smile
Lastly, on your travels you can expect to come across a few enthusiasts (some might say eccentrics) whose extraordinary imagination is an absolute delight.
This is the case for example of the modest and extremely amusing Musée de l’Insolite near Pech Merle Cave in Lot, where the practice of putting objects to unusual uses has been raised to an art form. Just as comical and off-beat is the Affabuloscope, which is near another famous cave at Le Mas d’Azil in Ariège. This museum is the home of the surreal, where machines like the word-weigher take over from reality, to the amusement of visitors.