The Vallee Du Lot & Cahors – France 2010

On leaving Najac, we headed off through the Vallee Du Lot on the D662, a scenic route leading to the Quercy town of Cahors.

Vallee du Lot scenic drive - hilltop village
The scenic drive was scenic!

Cahors was given a cracking write up by our faithful Lonely Planet guide, which described it as a “bustling city” with “the feel of a sunbaked Mediterranean town”. What we didn’t realise was that it was Thursday, 13th May – Ascension Day – and a public holiday in France (For those who are as ignorant as I was, Ascension Day is 40 days after Easter and marks the time when Christ ascended back up to heaven, following his earlier resurrection on Earth).

Almost everything was closed in Cahors, which gave the city a somewhat less than bustling feel. In fact, it felt rather run down, scruffy and a little dirty. On top of that, it kept raining. We didn’t stay in Cahors that long, especially as the aire which we were hoping to use by the river was completely full.

Rocks overhanging a road, Vallee du Lot, France
Overhanging rocks meant that taller vehicles needed to take care

However, our scenic drive of the morning had also revealed a number of very scenic laybys, one of which we now retreated to. Completely off the road, it was directly above a lock on the River Lot and was very pleasant and quiet.

Friday dawned and with renewed motivation we headed towards Sarlat la Caneda, a beautiful historic town in the Dordogne that’s built of honey-coloured stone and hugley popular with tourists. While the town is fantastic to look at, I didn’t warm to it as much as I hoped because the historic centre had almost ceased to have any purpose other than being a tourist attraction – every business was aimed at extracting Euros from tourists and pretty much every person I could see was a tourist. The places I like best when travelling are those which have some appeal but have remained real places – places where residents shop, live and spend their time. Still, it was worth seeing.

Sarlat la Caneda, France
The old town of Sarlat is full of old buildings built from this lovely warm, honey-coloured stone
Old buildings, Sarlat La Caneda
Unfortunately, almost every one of them is a restaurant or gift shop underneath...

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