The Lot is wonderful walking and biking country with over 1,000km of hiking trails. Less popular with tourists than neighbouring Dordogne and with a lack of industry and large cities, the countryside ranges from rolling farmland in the Segala to the central rocky limestone plateaux of the causses and fertile hills and valleys of Quercy Blanc. Routes on the plateaus or along ridges are easy after a short initial climb.
Eight GR routes cross the Lot, including wonderful walks east to west along the pilgrim way to Santiago on the long distance GR65. The GR651 follows the valley of the River Cele and the GR652 tracks the Cele gorges. France’s TopoGuides or local Tourist Offices can supply more details on the GR36, GR46, GR480, GR6-60 from Figeac to Meyrueis in Lozere and GR6-64 from Figeac to Eyzies in the Dordogne. Gourdon, Figeac and Souillac are all good centres for organised rambles.
Lot has the third largest number of dolmens of any department of France and thousands of tumuli. Why not buy a relevant 1:25000 IGN map showing these (the equivalent of English Ordinance Survey maps) to spot them as you walk. There’s even the remains of a pre-historic quarry from some 4,000 years ago near Livernon.
Horse riding is a wonderful way to enjoy the oak woods, meadows and river banks of the beautiful Lot countryside set with yellow stone villages and traditional rural architecture like pigeonniers, stone shepherds’ huts and once busy watermills. Unusually, Topo have produced a guide to Lot’s 500km of bridleways so that you can choose your own routes.
Alternatively, there are plenty of equestrian riding and trekking centres in the Lot which, as well as hiring horses, offer lessons to beginners and guided trips ranging from a few hours to several days.
For example, some stables like Club Hippique du Quercy in Cahors, tel: (00 33) 5 65 22 35 20 61 and Club Figiacois du Cheval in Figeac, tel: (00 33) 5 65 34 70 57, also have pony clubs and Ecole d’Equitation de St-Cere, tel (00 33) 5 65 38 19 32 caters for age 4 plus. Ferme Equestre des Landes in Le Vigan, tel: (00 33) 5 65 41 13 07 is happy for riders to ‘go where they please’ over several days and Ferme Equestre du Peche-Merle, tel: (00 33) 5 65 24 76 76 51, offers rides in a horse drawn cart by the hour or day. Ask at local Tourist Offices for details of the many other centres.
The family can enjoy a great day out at this water and fun park beside the River Dordogne. Attractions include giant toboggans and pedalos, trampolines, bouncy castles, football and basket ball and much more. Open every day May - Sept www.copeyre.com Tel: (00 33) 5 32 72 61.
This enchanted model railway takes you on a magical journey of sound and light into a fairy world, past 200 scenes of farms, castles, fairgrounds and more. Spellbinding for adults and children alike. See www.la-feerie.com/voyage_an.html for pictures. L’Hospitalet, Rocamadour. Tel: (000 033) 5 65 33 71 06.
Gramat Animal Park in the heart of the Causses de Quercy Regional Park is open every day all year. 1,000 animals in large enclosures represent 150 breeds of both wild and rare farm animals. Many came originally from the causses. See bears, lynx, birds of prey and more. Café and picnic area. Tel: (00 33) 5 65 38 81 22. See pictures and opening times (in French) on www.gramat-parc-animalier.com
Get close enough to feed popcorn to 150 Barbary apes living freely in a 20 hectare enclosure at Foret des Singes. A trained guide is on hand at all times. Tel: (00 33) 5 65 33 62 72.
Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut Quercy takes you on a 1 hour steam train ride on the restored line between Martel and St-Denis, starting at Martel. Travel through valleys and over narrow viaducts amongst beautiful countryside and hills. Open 4 Apr - Sep 2010. Tel: (00 033) 5 65 37 35 81 www.trainduhautquercy.info