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 which has 16 locks on the 87km in Lot-et-Garonne) or gliding past watermills on the Garonne, Lot and Baise rivers are great ways to explore this sunny, peaceful land rich in history and gastronomic plenty.
In all there are 200km of navigable waterways. Cruise through to Bordeaux enjoying some of the best vineyards and wine-tasting in France along the way.
Allow cruising speeds of about 5mph with 20 minutes to go through a lock. If you hire a penichette (traditional French wide-beamed, box-shaped boat) they will probably not have a teapot or kettle and provide coffee bowls instead of mugs.
Hire pleasure boats at Fumel on the Lot (00 33) 5 53 71 13 70, the Canal Lateral at Agen (00 33) 5 63 04 48 28 and at Nerac on the Garonne.
Emeraude navigation is a boat rental company where no licence is required. There are lots of places to hire canoes - ask at local tourist offices, and don’t forget to hire life jackets.
Towpaths offer picturesque walking and cycle trails and the River Lot in particular is well known for its good fishing - especially carp, black bass, trout and whitefish. Special sectors allow night fishing for carp. Contact the local Angling Federation site for more details on the Lot and other rivers www.peche47.com
The Caves of Fontirou found south of Pujols on the road to Agen at Castella, are a maze of tunnels dressed with huge glistening stalactites and stalagmites in fantastical limestone formations.
Open daily July and Aug 1000 - 1230 and 1400 - 1800; Sun, public holidays, Easter, May, June and Sept daily 1400 - 1730. Tel: (00 33) 5 53 40 15 29 to confirm. Also picnic area and mini golf on-site.
The Caves of Lastournelles in Ste-Colomb-de-Villeneuve are a series of 7 interlocking caverns offering formations millions of years old to discover. Open daily July and Aug 1000 - 1200 and 1400 - 1900; Tel: (00 33) 5 53 40 08 09 to confirm opening times for other months.