The tranquil river Lot meanders through a verdant valley dotted with golden coloured villages such as Puy l'Evêque and Luzech, and hamlets untouched by time, eventually arriving at the principal town, Cahors. Situated on a bend in the river, with the famous Pont Valentré standing proud, the town is known for its bronze-coloured stone, narrow lanes and flower-laden squares and, of course, its excellent wines.
To the east, the river cuts through limestone hills, creating high dramatic gorges and scenic routes. The uplands are dotted with prehistoric caves and grottoes, with much of the landscape a designated Natural Park. Famous caves include Padirac and Pech Merle.
Those interested in medieval history should not miss a visit to Rocamadour and St Cirq-Lapopie; villages perched dramatically on cliffsides.
Good food is a way of life in the Lot, and local seasonal produce will be readily available at the local markets, including juicy melons which thrive on the hills here.
A local cheese to try during your stay is Cabecou from Rocamadour, made from goat’s milk, often toasted on bread or served with honey or in salads. Walnuts are a frequent companion in these salads, and also commonly used in desserts and breads.
When in the butcher or in a restaurant, you may see ‘Causses de Quercy’ lamb. This high quality meat comes from a special breed of sheep which seem to be wearing sunglasses – black circles around their eyes!
Vines first arrived in the Quercy 2000 years ago thanks to the Romans who were invading the area. The wine produced became so good it began to have an adverse effect on the Italian production, so much so in fact that in 92AC, the Roman Emperor ordered that all Quercy vines should be dug up. He was ignored and wine continued to be produced! In 1152, the union of Alienor of Aquitaine to Henri Plantagenet, future King of England, allowed Cahors wines to be introduced to the English, who called it ‘black wine’ and it acquired a good reputation. Many of the ‘châteaux’ offer the opportunity to sample the local wines – look out for the word ‘dégustations’ (tastings) on signs.