Cahors is an enchanting town that sits on the curvaceous River Lot and surrounded by hills. With its medieval bridge, cobbled streets, leafy boulevards and wonderful pavement cafes it really has it all. The north of the town leads to Paris, to the south is Toulouse, to the west is Bordeaux and to the east are the wild Causses and onto the Massif Central.
It was the Romans who first marched through Cahors and planted the first vineyards that have been made so famous as the Black Wine. They built the first ramparts and named the town after the ancient spring “Fons Divona”. It’s now called the Fontaine des Chartreux and even in these modern times, it still provides the town’s water supply. Some of the Roman remains can still be seen and the site of the old Roman bridge, just to the east of the Pont Louis-Philippe. It was during the 19th Century that the main street was created from the old fortified ditch that originally ran down the town centre. This tree lined street now forms the main boulevard of the town. Named after a “local boy made good” called Leon Gambetta in 1838 there is a large bronze statue towering over the central Place.One of the great pleasures in Cahors is sitting outside one of the many pavement cafes enjoying a coffee, a cool beer or a good meal of local regional produce. Along the beautiful, plane tree lined Boulevard de Gambetta you’ll find numerous little cafes to choose from, all have good food and good wine and none will ever hurry you out of your chair if you feel inclined to linger and soak up the atmosphere. After you’ve quenched your thirst and filled yourself with a cepe omelette or salad paysanne why not do some sightseeing and absorb the history and culture of this lovely town.Pont de Valentré This beautiful medieval masterpiece is the towns hallmark and said to be one of the most photographed sights in France. In the Middle Ages it was part of the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela and is still used for the purpose today. This 14th Century architecture was supposedly built with the aid of the devil as legend goes. The story goes like this.... It took a long time to construct the bridge and the architect began to get a bit impatient, he even feared he might never live to see it finished. So he enlisted the assistance of the devil. The devil promised to help, in exchange, for the architect’s soul. However as the project neared completion the architect began to have second thoughts and tried to back out of his obligations. The devil therefore took his revenge by sitting on the central tower, and as the masons laid the last stone on the final day, the devil removed it at night. It happened over and over again! The devil is still there today, carved in stone and clinging to the tower.The Cathedral of Saint Etienne and Market Place This beautiful Renaissance Cathedral with its double dome is well worth a visit. It dominates the old quarter of the town and sits in the middle of a large square. A good time to visit this masterpiece is on market day which takes place in front of the cathedral every Saturday and Wednesday. It is one of the liveliest, most colourful markets in France. During the summer months you’ll find stalls laden with golden peaches, oversized peppers, lettuces, herbs, flowers, garlic, pates and every kind of cheese. Local ducks and geese are also available. The Dueze Palace and the Medieval Streets Near the Place Lafayette lies the Papal palace with its thirty-four metre high tower. Cahors is not a large town by any stretch of the imagination, and you can easily walk around the medieval streets on the western side of the Boulevard in an hour or two. The Musee de Vin is worth a visit to find out about the famous Cahors wine. Stroll down the Rue de la Daurade and Rue de Saint Urcisse and look at the remains of the Roman baths on the Avenue Freycinet. The Secret Gardens Despite being a town there are some nicely laid out and enclosed gardens. At the foot of the Pont de Valentre bridge you can walk back in time to the days of the crusades, when pilgrims would come to Cahors in order to cross the river on their way south to Santiago de Compostela or Jerusalem. The medieval gardens include the plots of the Augustinian friars, the Moorish gardens and the cloistered garden of Henri IV.