The Lot is a department in the Midi-Pyrenees region of Southern France: one of France’s best kept secrets! Here is a unique strand of heritage and nature that has developed across 5 departments.
The Lot Valley is a spectacular ancient region east of the Dordogne department of Aquitaine. It has a warm sunny climate and is set in beautiful unspoilt countryside with hills, valleys, oak forests, vineyards, farmland and spectacular hilltop Bastide towns.
Many villages border the river Lot, which comes down from the Auvergne and winds for almost 300 miles. By the time it flows into the Garonne it has widened into many tributaries, one of which is the Cere which flows through the Valley of the same name near La Ferme du Cayla.
Villages line the banks of the Lot, many dating from the 13th Century. The stretch between Saint-Come-d’Olt and d’Estaing in the upper valley is a UNESCO world heritage site. Characteristic villages and Romanesque churches are age-old stops along the pilgrim route to Compostela.
Ancient cave formations abound. To the northeast, the Padirac Cave has underground lakes and unusual rock formations. To the south, the famous Pech Merle Cave features prehistoric rock art.
The Lot region offers a range of activities for all ages. Lakes provide excellent swimming and watersports. Explore the local Bastide towns, play golf, take a thermal bath or beauty treatment at one of the Valley Spa towns or enjoy the hustle and bustle of the French Markets. Mountain biking, canoeing for the adventurous -even hang gliding and parachuting can be found.
If taking it easy is more your style then relax by a pool or a lake, take walks in the countryside, do some gentle cycling- nothing too demanding! Eat alfresco.
Ah yes – gastronomy. Why else would you come to France!
Black truffles, foie gras, lamb, melons and Cahors Malbec wine. A speciality worth trying is ‘Estonifado’ a delicious dish of potatoes and cod, a Friday and Lenten dish particular to the region. General De Gaulle is famously quoted as saying ‘How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?’ So -don’t forget to sample the cheese -especially those from Rocamadour.
In the lower Lot valley, a mere 15minutes drive from La Ferme Du Cayla, is a picturesque stretch of river between Figeac and Cahors. Along the course of the river are numerous small villages to explore. They are set among beautiful scenery, with cliffs and wooded slopes rising each side of the broad river valley.
Figeac is a medieval town on the river Cele. In parts it dates back to the 9th century and has small palaces dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries when it was an important trade centre thanks to its wool and flax industry. The Museum of Ecriture looks at writing across the centuries and includes an explanation of how the writing on the Rosetta Stone was decoded.
Cahors is the prefecture of the department and is an attractive town, with leafy avenues and characteristic medieval houses which testify to its former prosperity. It boasts a 14th century bridge, the Pont Valentre. The Wednesday and Saturday morning markets are a chance to browse all manner of things French and taste Cahors wine for which it is justly famous.