Use the framed map and posters
in the entrance hall to plan your day trips. There is so much to see and do in the area you will probably run out of time on holiday!
Sit on the terrace overlooking the pool
and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of fresh croissants from Martel, sipping a café au lait whilst contemplating what to do that day.
Follow the country footpath
that runs past the side of the grounds of Mirandole. It takes you through the nature reserve, past fields and woodland, down to the village of Baladou.
A Quercy speciality: walnuts & walnut oil:
Farm grown walnuts are pressed at the Ferme-Auberge du Moulin at Martel. You can visit by appointment and taste & buy the lovely oil as well as the walnut wine to drink as an apéritif
Summer evenings in Martel
Head into Martel on a Wednesday evening in July and August and join in the dances that take place in the market square. Throughout the summer, there are plenty of festivals and exhibitions taking place in Martel, during the day and in the evenings.
Crafts in Martel
You will find a number of craft shops and galleries, amongst them a leather worker, a creator of modern stained glass and a restorer of ancient art-works for churches etc.
claimed to be the second most visited site in France, is a 20 min drive due south of Martel and is a must on the list of things to do! Clinging to the rock face, cliff-hugging Rocamadour hangs almost 500 feet above the Alzou Canyon, one of the most extraordinary settings in France! A walk around the Chateau walls with views down into village is a must if you have a good head for heights.
Come face to face with Dinosaurs!
Prehistologia is a prehistoric park, situated in a forest covering several hectares, between Martel and Rocamadour. Learn about the history of the world from 4.5 million years ago to the Neolithic period. It is the largest life size reconstruction in Europe of prehistoric creatures (dinosaurs, flying reptiles..)
Antiques and Brocante
Take a tour of the antique shops in the Lot. The tourist office has put together a leaflet (with map) featuring all the antique and brocante (bric a brac) shops in the northern part of the Lot. See what gems you can uncover!
Tour of Martel, the town with 7 towers
Pick up the leaflet from the tourist office which takes you on a self guided tour of the town. Although small, the town has a lot of history as well as being very pretty. For example, Place Gambetta used to be the Place du Sel, where people would come to trade and buy the salt, brought from the Atlantic along the Dordogne River.
Enjoy a ride on 'Le Truffadou' (steam train).
And discover the picturesque Dordogne valley. The railway line is hewn out of the cliff face 80m above the river so you can be sure of spectacular views! The trip last about 1hr and runs from Martel to St Denis.
On the outskirts of Martel is Reptiland - a living museum/collection of over 102 different species of reptiles (the largest collection in France). Children will probably be fascinated by the tour!
Carennac (to the east of Martel)
is a stunning village on the banks of the River Dordogne, and is classed as 'One of the most beautiful villages in France'.
Musee de L'Automate
Next to the medieval Abbaye Ste Marie, in Souillac, this is the world's biggest collection of antique mechanical toys, many in working order.
Visit Cahors (1hr drive), famous for its wines.
It is said that the Romans, who planted the first vines here, circa 1BC, would still recognise the wines today. Explore the old town, a maze of mediaeval streets and buildings. Wander down to the banks of the Lot and take a boat ride around the meander in the River Lot which encloses the town, or walk on the Pont Valentre.
If the children want a pool with water slides, head to Quercyland for the day. In Souillac, on the banks of the river, this water park has 7 swimming pools, 3 water slides, bouncy castles, a go kart circuit, paddle boats, crazy golf....plus restaurants. Open from May to end of September.
The weekly French market is always a fantastic event - stalls laden with local produce, the bright colours of the fruit and veg, the sounds and smells.... Martel has 2 markets a week - Wednesday and Saturday - and they take place under the beautiful 'halle' in the town centre. Don't forget to look up at the roof of the 'halle' - a spectacular piece of carpentry.
A 'cool' thing to do in high summer is to visit a cave.
Close by is the 'Gouffre de Padirac', where you descend 103m by stairs or lift for a magical underground journey (1 ½ hr). Cross the Rain Chamber in a boat and then continue on foot through the Grand Cours room and onto the Grand Dôme with its 94m high ceiling and the Lac Supérieur.
Eating out in Martel
Enjoy a walk down to Martel (about 2km) early evening for dinner out at one of the restaurants. With about 6 or 7 restaurants in total, there is plenty of choice. What better way to spend a summer's evening?
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