Traditionally, the department of Lot-et-Garonne’s many rivers were used for transport with barges carrying cargoes from wheat to wine making for Bordeaux.
Today, pleasure-boating and canoeing on the Canal Lateral (an extension of the Canal du Midi) or gliding past watermills on the Garonne, Lot and Baise rivers are great ways to explore this sunny, peaceful land rich in history and the gastronomic plenty of Gascony.
Cruise through to Bordeaux enjoying some of the best vineyards and wine-tasting in France along the way. Towpaths provide picturesque walking and cycle trails.
Cycling and horse riding are easy on the back roads of northern Lot-et-Garonne, quiet even in high summer, where wooded hillsides slope gently between fertile valleys.
Dovecotes and colombage (timber-framed) houses are a reminder of neighbouring Dordogne, close enough for an outing. Tobacco grows here and the Garonne river plain supports a variety of food crops.
Agen, the capital, houses masterpieces by Goya in its ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ and gives its name to the delicious plums (‘prunes’) said to have been introduced from Damascus by Crusaders. Dried as quality prunes (‘pruneaux’), they appear in many guises in local cuisine, from stuffed with ‘foie gras’ (goose pate) and served with beef, to chocolate-coated ‘petits fours’. In high summer, sunflowers harvested for vegetable oil colour fields sunshine-yellow, the time to visit Latour-Marliac’s gardens in Temple-sur-Lot where Monet purchased water lilies for his famous gardens at Giverny.
The Hundred Years War and Wars of Religion have left their mark on this frontier between French and English, Catholic and Protestant, in a wealth of medieval chateaux, castles and Bastides (fortified) hilltop towns and villages. Amongst the best are the military masterpiece of Chateau Bonaguil, Villereal with its wonderful oak-beamed covered market and Monflanquin offering amazing views and Bastides museum. Discover the 7 interlocking caves near Pujols and Penne d’Agenais where Richard the Lionheart reputedly built the first fortifications.
Many villages have annual celebrations based around history, traditions, music and cuisine. Find local colour and maybe back a winner at one of the popular horse racing and trotting tracks. No tour of Lot-et-Garonne would be complete without sampling the famous dry golden Armagnac brandy, aged in oak, reputedly the oldest spirit in France and only produced here and in neighbouring Landes and Gers.