LOT DEPARTMENT :
Long and warm days are the best to explore the department that you will end up liking a Lot! Less known than its neighboring Dordogne, the Lot department is rich in natural beauties as much as in historical landmarks. Over the course of three road trips from Gironde, we started exploring the department, from North to South and from West to East, with younger kids, with older kids and once even leaving the kids at home.
Accordingly, we also sampled different sorts of accommodation, staying in a cozy B&B, in a basic camp site with a spectacular views and in a boutique hotel with spa. Lot has something for all tastes, budgets and ages.
TOP TEN FAVORITE PLACES TO SEE IN THE LOT :
#1 Montcuq: we drove through during a sunny Sunday and its central streets were packed with people buying the most diverse things in the village: from food, to hats, from saffron of Quercy (https://www.safran-du-quercy.com/) and herbs to handmade soap bars, from caneles to walnut tarts. Finding a table for lunch wasn’t easy as the terraces were full and as a vulture we had to get close to a table as soon as we could hear to word “l’addition!”. While waiting I noticed a lot of “traffic” around a small size statue on a side street: it was a piece of local artist Hugo (https://sculpteur-hugo.com/) donated to his town: Le petit Montcuquois. After lunch it was time for a siesta!
#2 Cahors It’s the main city in the region, known for its amazing wine, and almost 12% of the whole department population lives here. Its main landmark is the Valentre bridge (https://www.cahorsvalleedulot.com/en/explorer/visitez-la-vallee-du-lot/une-journee-a-cahors/le-pont-valentre/) that is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is lit in colors according to the occasion: see it in a bright color on June 21 for the music day!
#3 The fortified Mill of #Cougnaguet (https://www.cougnaguet.com/) was a detour we took with great pleasure when we saw the brown signpost on the side of the road. Bringing home some freshly milled flour was a big hit!
#4 When you live in a place without a public transport system, it only takes a short train ride to get little kids excited. Bonus point when the the train goes underground and brings you into a cave. It’s what we did in #Lacave (https://www.vert-marine.com/grottesdelacave/). Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and PATIENT, responding to every single question our then 6 yo had in mind. They did a great deal of work with the lighting of the place!
#5 Martel (https://www.martel.fr/) was historically a trade center, on the crossroad of the axe Toulouse-Paris and the one from the Atlantic/Bordeaux and the Center of France. It shows today the signs of such richness, starting with the beautiful market hall of the 18th century, whose dome is made with remarkable chestnut beams.
#6 Carennac Without knowing the region, it is in the suburbs on the hills just out of this town that we found a campsite where we pitched out tent and enjoyed spectacular views on the Dordogne river valley below. Walking in the village we found a house with a sign recalling an episode of ww2, where secret agent and parachutist George Hiller (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Hiller and in English https://nigelperrin.com/georgehiller.htm) found refuge after being injured and before being rescued and evacuated to the UK. Carennac itself is just a little jewel: flowers filled the streets and its buildings must have served as inspiration for cartoonists to create the medieval villages of fairytales.
#7 Underground boat ride in #Padirac Lot is a region rich in heritage both aboveground AND underground. Don’t miss the online booking if you want to see the chasm, as its fame is so vast that it is almost impossible to buy tickets at the front desk: they sell up fast! Once inside, it is easy to understand why. Audio guides are in many languages and while there are a lot of stairs, there are also a few elevators for those who need them.
#8 ️ and ️ the stairs in #Rocamadour. It has been an obligatory stop for pilgrims to their way to Compostela across the border with Spain, since the 12th century. Today it is a very busy site that pleases the souls as much as the palate: dont miss out the chance to experience the milking of goats and buy their famous cheese straight from a nearby farm (https://fermelaboriedimbert.com/)
#9 Cabrerets The name must come from the latin word for goat. We have seen the castle and the gardens. It was a nice break, away from the crowds. There is the Grotte du Pech Merle, a cave with remarkable signs of prehistoric art, discovered just a century ago!
#10 St. Cirq Lapopie One of the most beautiful villages of France. Almost no cars are allowed in the town, making it a pedestrian’s paradise! Leaving the car behind and walking into the town means also traveling back in time by nine centuries, into the Middle Ages, but with the comfort of cold drinks and warm meals. Unmissable!
By Simona PALENGA, a great guide and someone we like a ‘LOT’ 😉
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