Cahors, Lot: tourism & sightseeing
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Cahors is found in the Lot department, at the northern of the Midi-Pyrenees. Virtually the whole of Cahors is squeezed onto a small peninsula in a loop in the river Lot.
Because Cahors was well known for its moneylenders in the Middle Ages it shares the dubious distinction with Sodom of being mentioned in Dante's Inferno as a wicked place!
Apart from the Pont Valentre, the principal attraction for visitors, it is the eastern side of the peninsula that is most interesting to visitors.
The main road that runs through Cahors is the Boulevard Gambetta. This broad street was built in the 19th century on the line of the moat that surrounded the original town fortifications and is now the central route through Cahors. Many of the townhouses and buildings (eg theatre, town hall, palace of justice) were built around the same time, as part of the towns restructuring.
Continue into the historic centre of Cahors and you will find the cathedral with its roman style entrance, frescoes and a very attractive cloister. Also here there are a large number of impressive medieval townhouses on a warren of narrow lanes. If you head south from the cathedral along Rue Nationale you can wander into the side streets of the old town.
Cahors medieval town dates back to the 13th century and it grew with the arrival of bankers and merchants into the town. They built fine houses, usually of brick and often with arcades for their shops. Good examples can be found in the Rue Nationale, Rue du Chateau du Roi and the Rue des Soubirous.
Parts of the original ramparts can still be seen in the north of the town along with the Barbacane and the Porte de la Barre.
Pont Valentre (Cahors bridge)
Above all there is one attraction in Cahors that is unmissable, and that is the famous bridge across the Lot river, the Pont Valentré . The bridge, built in the 14th century, is simply beautiful. It has three towers each with large arched gateways due to its historical role as a defensive bridge - it is fortified because it was built during the Hundred Years War. You can also find a couple of places where you can sit nearby with your picnic and admire the bridge.
The bridge is also recognised as being important enough to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other Cahors information
Cahors market is held on Saturdays and Wednesdays (adjacent to the cathedral) and this is a good time to visit.
The Museum Henri-Martin in Cahors has an extensive collection of artefacts that help explain the various transitions the town has passed through over the last several centuries. Another place to learn of the history of the town is at the renovated pumping station at Cabazat (next to the Pont Valentre).
The other reason for the fame of the town and region is Cahors wine - the local wines are highly reputed within France and internationally, especially the full-bodied red wine produced here. Head west along the Lot Valley to see the vineyards which produce the wine, and more chances to sample a little...
An alternative way to appreciate the city is to follow the path up Mont Saint Cyr, which has great views across the town: the hill is across the river from the town so the views encompass the whole loop in the Lot river as well Pont Valentré and the town itself. We also enjoyed a boat trip along the Lot river.
Cahors has become well known for its gardens. The town has, in recent years, created some wonderful small gardens scattered throughout the town and there is a map you can get from the tourist office « laissez vous conter les jardins de Cahors » to help you to walk Cahors’ garden trail. It is a wonderful way to explore the town and the trail leads you past all the main sights.
The gardens range from the small cloister garden of the cathedral to a beautifully planted roundabout to individual small gardens scattered around the town. Two of my favourites are the ‘garden of the witch and the dragon’ ( ‘le jardin de la sorciere et du dragon’), and the ‘jardin du passeur’. The first specialises in plants with black leaves and flowers and those associated with witchcraft.
The jardin du passeur links the higher part of the town to the lower part next to the river. The garden descends down to the pond and garden area about half way down. Imaginative planting including some wonderful, very tall grasses is on display and there are a couple of areas where you can sit and relax in this wonderful space.
The concept and the excellent planting have won Cahors special merit in the Briggs and Stratten best park and garden competition and the town's gardens have been awarded ‘Jardin Remarquable’ status.
The Lot valley is attractive in both directions from Cahors, although if we had to choose we would prefer to travel east from here with the opportunity to explore the very lovely village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie before continuing to the historic centre of Figeac.
Photos of Cahors
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Map of Cahors and places nearby
Visit near Cahors with France This Way reviews
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Cahors has received the following tourist classifications: historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History ; village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*
Address: Cahors, Midi-Pyrenees, 46000, France || GPS: latitude 44.445, longitude 1.4414
Plan your visit to Cahors, Lot
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Cahors cathédrale St Etienne (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site
- Jardins secrets de Cahors: remarkable garden
- Cahors Pont-Valentré (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site
- Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: most beautiful village (18 km)
- Causses du Quercy: regional natural parc (24 km)
- Cayriech: ville fleurie 4* (29 km)
- Jardin du Pèlerin: remarkable garden (32 km)
- Lauzerte: most beautiful village (32 km)
- Jardin de la Daille: remarkable garden (33 km)
Market days in Cahors, France
Regular market(s) are held in Cahors each Wednesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Cahors (Francais)