Activities

Activities in the area include cycling (bicycles can be hired in the village), riding, fishing (lake within walking distance), tennis (there are courts nearby), and there is also a 9-hole golf course approximately 12km away. This is the ideal place from which to discover the medieval cities of Cordes sur Ciel, St. Cirq Lapopie and Rocamadour, as well as the treasures of Cahors, Montauban, Moissac, Albi and Toulouse and at the same time enjoy the culinary delights of the South West of France.

   

Cahors

Capital of the Quercy, Cahors is a lovely old town with quaint shopping streets and an impressive cathedral, all of which is squeezed onto a small peninsula in the river Lot. The old town is home to a large number of impressive medieval townhouses in a warren of narrow lanes. The Cahors market each Saturday is one of the largest in the region. The main attraction of Cahors, however, is the famous bridge - the Pont Valentré. The bridge, built in the 14th century, is simply beautiful - it has three towers, each with large arched gateways, due to its historical role as a defensive bridge.

   
 

Cordes-sur-Ciel

A village of considerable beauty, Cordes-sur-Ciel is a bastide town founded in 1222 with a charming central square dating from the 14th century. It's hilltop setting and the lovely medieval houses along the steep paved streets, make it one of the best preserved medieval towns. Among the many artists attracted by the town, Albert Camus famously remarked that "in Cordes, everything is beautiful, even regret". 2km from the town, Le Garissou offers a small water theme park for those hot sunny days.

   

St Cirq-Lapopie

The village of Saint-Cirq Lapopie is perched on a cliff 100m above the river and is one of the major beauty spots of the Lot valley. In the Middle Ages, Saint-Cirq Lapopie was the main town of one of the four viscounties that made up the Quercy. The village was dominated by a fortress comprising a number of castles and towers. Below the fortress, the village streets lead down to fortified gates. Beneath the Saint-Cirq Lapopie cliff there are watermills, weirs, harbours, locks and a towpath, which provide pleasant walks.

   
 

Rocamadour

Rocamadour is in the north of the Lot, in the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy, and receives more than a million visitors - tourists and pilgrims - each year. It has been an important pilgrimage destination for 1000 years and is built on the site of a shrine to a Madonna. The shrine became famous for its healing powers, and subsequently became a stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Campostela. The village is essentially just one paved street, lined with medieval houses, and passing through stone fortified gateways - the Porte du Figuier and the Porte Salmon are the two main gateways. Places of interest include: the Chapelle Notre Dame (home to the Black Madonna), the Grand Escalier (200+ steps, once climbed by pilgrims on their knees), and L'Hospitalet, with its views of the old town. After climbing the Grand Escalier (or taking the lift) continue onwards and upwards along the shady path with the 'stations of the cross' to get some fabulous views across the Lot Valley.

   

Montauban

Montauban, founded in 1144 by the Count of Toulouse on the banks of the Tarn River, is made from the attractive pink stone found in the region, like its great southern cousin Toulouse. The highlight of the town is right at the centre of the original bastide - the Place Nationale. Surrounded by grand pink houses, set above fine arcades, it is a very attractive central square. It was largely rebuilt in the 17th century after a fire. The Church of Saint Jacques is a beautiful 13th century church with a square tower and just past it is the lovely old bridge - built in 1303-1335. The Museum Ingres is the place to see the works of Ingres and Bourdelle, another local artist. The museum is located in the palace built on the site of a former palace, which was occupied by the Black Prince during the Hundred Years War - you can see remains of the original building in the basement of the museum.

   

Moissac

Moissac is on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Unfortunately much of the town was destroyed by terrible floods in 1930. The main reason people visit Moissac is for the Abbaye St-Pierre (untouched by the flooding) and its famous cloister and porch. This incredible cloister later acted as a model for hundreds of churches elsewhere, and is reputed to be the most beautiful cloister in the world. 76 marble columns and a myriad of fine carvings surround a pretty courtyard garden. Inside, the entire church is decoratively painted. The town also contains an interesting Centre of Romanesque Art. Moissac sits on the north bank of the Tarn, a beautiful stretch of river where the annual jazz festival is held.

   

Albi

Albi is an old town with an attractive historic centre of narrow cobbled streets and hidden courtyards. There are also some lovely views from the banks of the Tarn river, as it cuts through the medieval centre. The big attraction in Albi is the cathedral - Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile - which was built at the end of the 13th century, to commemorate the return of catholicism to the town (after years under the cathars). The cathedral, with its ornate interior, dominates the centre of the town, but don't miss the Palais de la Berbie next door - it contains the Toulouse-Lautrec museum, and has the largest collection of works by the artist in the world. Toulouse-Lautrec was born here in 1864.

   

Toulouse

Toulouse, known as the 'Ville Rose' because of its pink buildings, sits astride the Garonne river and the historic Canal du Midi. The heart of the town is the vast, arcaded Place du Capitole, where the impressive Capitole building forms the seat of local government. Inside, the Théatre du Capitole has been extensively refurbished. The city's finest building, the Basilique St-Sernin, was built over the course of three centuries. It is romanesque, with a wedding-cake spire, and was once a stop for pilgrims. South-west of the basilica is medieval Toulouse, which is dotted with a rich assortment of historic churches, including the gothic Les Jacobins, where the Dominican order was founded, and the Notre-Dame-de-la-Daurade, a hotchpotch of styles presided over by a black Madonna. The Hôtel de Bernuy, on rue Gambetta, and the Hôtel d'Assézat are both lovely 15th century merchants' houses; the latter containing works by Monet, Matisse, Pissarro and Bonnard. Five kilometres from the centre, the enormous Cité de l'Espace is an impressive celebration of the city's position at the centre of the European Space Programme.


© 2011 Domaine Lapeze