The Local Area and Things To Do

Situated 20 minutes drive south west of , (the medieval capital of the Lot), just south of the Lot river, and the Cahors wine route. Between the villages of Castelnau Montratier and Montcuq. A beautiful region, unspoilt and quiet, made up of lush green hills and valleys, small farms, and medieval hilltop villages.

Lovely white stone farmhouses dotted around with a colourful patchwork of sunflowers, maize, melons, corn, lavender, linseed, rape poppies and meadows of wild flowers.
Wooded walks with wild orchids, honeysuckle, broom, ground cover of wild rock plants, Mosses and Lichen, small truffle oaks, wild herbs.

Wild Boar, Deer, Hares, birds of prey, Nightingales and many species of Butterflies.
“The gateway to the south” The area is generally warmer and dryer (and south) of the Dordogne.

The Lot Valley has become one of the favourite destinations for the British in recent years and if you’ve already been you’ll know why. It’s immensely difficult to single out any particular attraction created by nature in the Lot as taking precedence over another, but most probably the jewels are: St-Cirq-Lapopie and the Gouffre de Padirac. Both are in the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy which sprawls through most of the area swallowing up nearly all of the main sites.

Cordes sur Ciel
Cordes sur Ciel

St-Cirq-Lapopie dramatically overhangs the Lot perching as though it’s been carelessly flung on to some hugely outsized shelf and been clinging on ever since. The spectacle is the main draw, as although the village’s narrow streets with its artisan shops make for a pleasant enough wander, the castle which once defied Richard the Lionheart is now a ruin.

From high up to low down, the crater of Padirac (near Rocamadour) - formed by the collapse of a cave - has some of the most stunning natural galleries iced by stalagmites and stalactites. Highlight of a visit here is the Salle du Grand Dôme, an immense underground space which could easily swallow up several of the area’s cathedrals.

Local Village
Local Village

Rocamadour with its cluster of medieval houses, battlements, towers and churches seems to be not so much perching on a rocky peak above the Alzou valley, as sprouting from it. Early morning visitors driving along the approach road, via the village of L’Hospitalet, will see the sun seeming to cast a luminous shawl over it. If you visit later and leave in the evening you get the more artificial, but none the less attractive, son et lumière effect.

The village became one of the most revered centres by pilgrims following the discovery of an ancient grave with an undecayed body, said to be that of St Amadour, an early Christian hermit, in 1166. A spate of miracles followed the discovery, putting a holy seal on the village.

Other attractions here are Foret des Singes, 130 monkeys living in total freedom. La maison des Abeilles, and Rocher des Aigles over 100 rare species of birds, demonstrations of Birds of prey in flight.
You can only explore properly by foot but the seven chapels, basilicas and museum accessed by the grand stairway (the pilgrims did the 216 stairs on their knees) easily consume a day. The old town is now pedestrianised and despite its main street being lined with souvenir shops they don’t detract from Rocamadour’s enduring appeal.

Outside the park’s boundaries lies the easily walkable city of Cahors and its landmark Pont Valentré. The bridge - six pointed arches, three defensive towers ,spanning the Lot, make up the best surviving fortified river span in Europe. Cahors is better known in the UK for its wine and the many vineyards dotted along the Lot river. Excellent wine tasting.

Famous Montcuq Market
Famous Montcuq Market

Cahors and Cajarac has the Quercyrail tourist train. The diesel locomotive trundles through the amiable scenery along an otherwise redundant line. There are various round trips on offer ie. boat with( optional lunch on board) one way, return by train or stopping off at a chateau.

  • Visit the Cathedral of Ste Etienne 11th to 17th century
  • The Resistance & other museums
  • Panoramic mont St. Cyr
  • The maison of henry IV
  • Indoor market   


Figeac
on the river Célé has a medieval core away from the square where the streets of Caviale, République and Gambetta delightfully criss-cross one other.
Cele river is a good place to Canoe, kayac 170 klm crossing

Gourdon
, collection of yellow-stone houses, set in the landscape of the Causse de Gramat, makes for a change to the traditional layout by being ringed by boulevards.

View of Ste Alauzie
View of Ste Alauzie