cahors lot valley france hiking tour

Pont Valentre bridge, Cahors, France

The famous Pont Valentre spans the Lot River at the medieval town of Cahors. Hiking medieval piligrim trails to traditional villages, we savor the regional cuisine and wine and discover quintessential France.

Photo by Annie Hawkins

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Medieval France: The Lot Valley

Country Walks, Prehistoric Caves, and Magnificent Chateaux

Medieval France: The Lot Valley route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5795  
Length: 9 days
Arrive: Rodez, France
Depart: Toulouse, France
Lodging: 8 nights charming inns and a restored château
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: A mix of easy to moderate walks and hikes, 2-4 hours a day, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day's hike)


  • Hike on pilgrim trails and secret paths between villages perched on cliffs above the river
  • Discover the remarkable prehistoric cave paintings of Pech Merle
  • Hotels of character, from a restored mill to a 13th century château
  • Delicious regional cuisine of local products (tasty confit du canard!), famed Cahors wines

We expected this would be a great trip and we were not disappointed. We saw beautiful villages, lovely valleys, stayed at great hotels, had interesting tours, picturesque hikes, and interesting excursions. It was a section of France we would never have explored on our own.Marie Jose D.—Lovingston, VA

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On the Pilgrim's Path, Suzy McIntosh

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

We’ve found a little gem tucked away in a tiny corner of southwest France—the Lot Valley, a secluded world of medieval cliff-top hamlets, Romanesque abbeys, open-air markets, ancient chateaux, robust red wines, and a savory cuisine flavored with truffles and wild mushrooms. On our enchanting exploration of this deeply French realm, our hikes bring you along the tranquil Lot River and across pilgrim paths between spectacular hilltop villages. You’ll also discover the Pech Merle prehistoric cave, filled with extraordinary rock art, and sample the delicious wares of local wineries and small farms, including tangy Cabécou goat cheese. Overnights are in hand-selected historic hotels, including the majestic 13th century Château de Mercuès overlooking the Lot River.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Rodez / Conques

Our hikes bring you through picturesque hamlets north of Rodez, to the hilltop village of Conques, whose 9th century abbey is a spectacular example of Romanesque architecture, and along a pilgrim path to medieval Estaing, officially listed as one of les plus beaux villages de France.

Days 4-5
Célé Valley / Rocamadour

After exploring Figeac, a charming 15th century town with a perfectly preserved medieval center, we hike on an ancient path along the Célé River. Our next hike leads across the dramatic gorge of the Alzou River for spectacular views of cliff-perched Rocamadour, a pilgrim destination since 1166.

Day 6
Pech Merle Cave / St. Cirq Lapopie

At Pech Merle, one of the few prehistoric caves where the original 25,000-year-old paintings are on view, take in a treasury of vivid rock art as mammoths, bison, and dappled horses gallop across the cave walls. Later, hike a riverside trail to St. Cirq Lapopie, with its steep cobbled streets and terraced gardens. Our hotel for the next three nights is the majestic 13th century Château de Mercuès near Cahors.

Days 7-9
Château de Cénevières / Cahors

From the rock-perched village of Calvignac, we hike a forested path to the 13th century Château de Cénevières, where the lord of the chateau welcomes us for a visit. In sunny Cahors, explore the lively open-air market and enjoy scenes of daily life including beret-topped old men and housewives seeking out the freshest produce. A sumptuous wine-tasting in our hotel’s vaulted cellar is followed by our farewell dinner in its Michelin-starred restaurant. Depart on Day 9 via Toulouse.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The hiking on this trip is Level 2+, Easy to Moderate. We enjoy day walks over variable terrain, including rolling countryside, riverside trails, clifftop paths, and country roads. The trails are generally shaded by trees, and there are some stony sections, but no dangerous conditions or scrambling. The hikes are van accessible should you need to shorten your hike. We will carry just a daypack. Well broken-in hiking boots are recommended but sturdy walking shoes with good traction may be suitable for some days. The meals included in the itinerary will be taken at the hotels where we are staying or at restaurants in town, with some picnic lunches. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 p.m. A Note on Accommodations: In an effort to capture the spirit of old Europe, the hotels that we use are often family-run converted chateaux or inns, full of ambiance and colorful local history. Although the rooms are not always of uniform or international size, our leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jun 1- 9, 2016  Annie Hawkins
Jun 22-30, 2016  Tania Masi
Sep 10-18, 2016  James Fuss
Oct 8-16, 2016  Tania Masi

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$5795 (11-15 members)
$6295 (6-10 members)
Single supplement: $1220
Forced single supplement: $970
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in chateaux, inns, and hotels
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
  • A glass of wine or beer with dinner
  • Entrances to museums and sites, canoe and boat trips
  • Land transportation, airport transfers for recommended flights as indicated

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, transfers other than those provided for group flights, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, telephone calls).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Rodez, France
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:

Rodez, France (airport code: RDZ)
Toulouse, France
Date: Day 9

Suggested Airport for Departure:

Toulouse, France (airport code: TLS)
Suggested flight departure time: after 12:45 pm or later

Moulin de Cambelong

Moulin de Cambelong

Days 1 to 3 (3 nights), Conques, France

Nestled at the bottom of the ravine that it shares with the stunning village of Conques, this small hotel-restaurant occupies a restored 18th ...
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Hotel Le Grezalide

Hotel Le Grezalide

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Grezes, France

This unique countryside hotel has a stunning and peaceful location. It is a beautifully adapted historic building with a great restaurant, gorgeous ...
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Chateau du Mercues

Chateau du Mercues

Days 6 to 8 (3 nights), Mercues-Cahors, France

Once the property of the count-bishops of Cahors, this renovated 13th century chateau has breathtaking views overlooking the mighty Lot River. The ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Tim Burford

With a big smile on his face and hiking poles in hand, Tim’s jovial persistence to explore the ends of the world, which led him to write hiking guidebooks for such destinations as Chile and Alaska, is only matched by his contagious passion to lead hiking adventures closer to his native ...
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Nicos Caravellas

Nicos Caravellas, born and raised in Greece, gained his love of nature early on family outings in northern Greece's mountainous countryside. During his university years, while earning his degree in teaching, he developed his mountaineering skills and decided to become a professional guide."I ...
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Laurence Frison

Traveler, hiker, skier, and guide by passion, and graphic designer by trade, Laurence (Lolo) Frison embodies the life of an adventurer. She spent a decade exploring the world from Africa to Australia, including a three-month road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles, and has specialized in guiding ...
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James Fuss

Departure Dates: September 10-18, 2016

James Fuss is a trekking guide, photographer, cyclist, and chef extraordinaire. Born and raised in South Australia, James found his wanderlust early on family camping trips across Australia. His love of the culinary arts is deep-rooted as well, and as a young chef, he headed off to Europe to ...
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Annie Hawkins

Departure Dates: June 1- 9, 2016

Annie Hawkins, born and raised in a small village in Burgundy, is a passionate world traveler and one of our most enchanting Trip Leaders. After studying art history in Provence, Annie moved to California, where she led adventure tours in the American Southwest and realized that leading adventure ...
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Tania Masi

Departure Dates: June 22-30, 2016, October 8-16, 2016

Born in Florence, Italy, of an American mother and proud Florentine father, Tania Masi was raised with an appreciation for both American and European cultures. With nine languages and a Master of Geography under her belt—not to mention a career as a journalist and documentary film director ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Client Comments

We expected this would be a great trip and we were not disappointed. We saw beautiful villages, lovely valleys, stayed at great hotels, had interesting tours, picturesque hikes, and interesting excursions. It was a section of France we would never have explored on our own. Marie Jose D., Lovingston, VA This trip had everything: fantastic food, wonderful accommodations, a great attention to history woven into our daily hikes, and a lot of behind-the-scene touches I really appreciated: the lively meeting with Jean Luc Matha, a master winemaker, where we tasted several of his excellent wines; lunch at the home of a sheep farmer (leg of lamb, of course); sampled goat cheeses at a local farm; heard a rousing organ recital in a 12th century cathedral; met with the lord of a chateau and had a delightful “picnic” in one of the castle's cozy rooms with a roaring fire; attended the bustling Saturday market in Conques; and, above all, the absolutely best Trip Leaders. Dena B., Albany, CA The tour provided a nice mix of varied hiking trails, cultural outings, picturesque villages, good food and wine, and even some special events like the procession in Conques. Dorothy D., Denver, CO A glory of a trip with glorious guides, Romanesque buildings, chapels and abbeys and churches with carvings so fresh and humorous you feel as if you were walking through mid-12th century villages and secret paths. Great people, gutsy reds, endless confit du canard, superb cheeses, and gentle walks in endless beauty. Suzy M., Pittsburgh, PA The trip was a fascinating journey through the long history of this region, from the cave at Peche Merle to the modern stained glass windows at Conques by Pierre Soulage. Martha F., Denver, CO Annie's 'eating, drinking and exploring old France' trip was just as wonderful as we expected! Jack H., Cockeysville, MD
Medieval France: The Lot Valley
It was an exceptional trip. A wonderful itinerary, with beautiful areas for hiking as well as sightseeing. Suzanne T., Santa Rosa, CA I would highly recommend this trip and your company to others. Everything was highly professional and FUN. Carol C., Paradise Valley, AZ This trip was perfect: exquisite itinerary, stunning scenery, charming hotels, incredible food, and outstanding trip leaders. I didn't want it to end! Judith K., South Portland, ME This was one of the best walks/trips in my life. The pace was great, with time for sightseeing, and the best places to eat and stay. Jude R., Salt Lake City, UT A great trip at a perfect time of year. The hotels were excellent, in keeping with the theme of old France. The meals were a delight, and the hikes took us through beautiful riverine landscapes and quaint medieval villages. This is the ultimate trip to France. Elizabeth B., Ventura, CA This is a trip we will long remember. It immersed us in the atmosphere of old France, from quaint medieval hilltop villages to prehistoric caves to nights in a romantic chateau. And we spent days hiking through the stunning landscape surrounding the Lot River. Bruce B., Ventura, CA A big plus for this trip was being in an area not ‘discovered’ by tourists. Edmond D., Claymont, DE An exceptional overview of the unspoiled Lot Valley! Robert H., Houston, TX

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On the Pilgrim's Path, Suzy McIntosh