The department of the Lot, France’s heartland and part of the old province of Quercy, is generally warmer, drier and less populated than neighbouring Dordogne to the west, with much to attract the visitor historically, culturally and gastronomically. Taking its name from the River Lot which carves its way through the rocky beauty of the Causses limestone plateau around the capital Cahors, the department of the Lot finds its eastern border in the foothills of the Massif Central. Cycling in traffic-free Lot is a delight and walking a pleasure. Horse riding, fishing and canoeing are also popular. The white stone villages of Quercy Blanc - rated some of the most beautiful in France - reflect the southern light over fields of sunflowers, melons, tobacco and vines. Enjoy the oak woods, orchids and amazing fauna and flora of the Causses du Querc Regional Natural Park. Near the Massif Central are wonderful steep valleys and panoramic mountain views.
Tree lined Boulevard de Gambetta in Cahors is the perfect place to enjoy southern café life. Rest your baskets of local produce from the twice weekly markets and stay for lunch - perhaps a cepes (wild mushroom) omelette and a glass of fruity red Cahors wine. Lovers of architecture should visit the perfect medieval village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie or hillside Figeac. At Moulin de Cassel – one of Lot’s few remaining windmills – is a monument to the French Resistance fighters who died there in 1944. Rocamadour village, which gives its name to the local goat’s cheese, is a much visited marvel clinging high on a cliff face complete with church of the Black Madonna and castle. Take a boat trip past giant stalactites and stalagmites 300ft underground at nearby Gouffre de Padirac.
The Lot is rich in pre-history, caves abound - spot dolmens and tumuli. Lascaux in nearby Dordogne may be more famous, but Lot’s pre-historic ‘Sistine Chapel’ at Pech- Merle is a much larger complex and interestingly the original 20,000 year old wall paintings can still be seen by visitors. Numbers are limited so do pre-book.
Children will enjoy the robotics museum at Souillac or Reptiland at Martel where the brave can hold a python - although mum may prefer the orchid collection! In summer, there are jazz, folk and classical music festivals in towns such as Rocamadour and Cahors.