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: $5895  
Length: 9 days
Arrive: Rodez, France
Depart: Toulouse, France
Lodging: 8 nights charming inns and a restored chateau
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 tired feet)
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Highlights

  • 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 chateau
  • Delicious regional cuisine of local products, famed Cahors wines


An exceptional overview of the unspoiled Lot Valley!Robert H.—Houston, TX

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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.

References

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.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

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, hearty 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 beside the tranquil, winding Lot River and across pilgrim paths between spectacular hilltop villages. You’ll also discover the Lot Valley’s Pech Merle prehistoric caves, 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 Chateau de Mercuès overlooking the Lot River.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Rodez / Conques From

Rodez, our hike brings you to the hilltop village of Conques, whose splendid 9th century abbey is a spectacular example of Romanesque architecture. The next day we follow a pilgrim path through villages and fields to medieval Estaing, officially listed as one of les plus beaux villages de France.

Days 4-5
Cele Valley / Rocamadour

Figeac, a charming 15th century town with a perfectly preserved medieval center, is our start for a hike on an ancient path along the Cele River between tiny hamlets. 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 cobbled streets and terrace gardens. Our hotel for the next three nights is the majestic 13th century Chateau de Mercuès near Cahors.

Days 7-9
Chateau de Cenevieres / Chateau de Mercues / Cahors

From the rock-perched village of Calvignac, descend to the 13th century Chateau de Cenevieres, 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

2015
May 30-Jun 7, 2015  Annie Hawkins
Jun 20-28, 2015  Laurence Frison
Oct 3-11, 2015  Nicos Caravellas

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$5895 (13-15 members)
$6195 (10-12 members)
$6495 (6-9 members)
Single supplement: $1420
Forced single supplement: $1420
more on pricing

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
  • 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, wine at dinner (except at welcome and farewell dinners), 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).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
90-46 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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).

Nicos Caravellas

Departure Dates: October 3-11, 2015

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 ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Laurence Frison

Departure Dates: June 20-28, 2015

Laurence Frison, of France, earned her diploma in graphic design but prefers the life of traveling, hiking, skiing, and guiding. She spent a decade exploring the world from Africa to Australia, including a three-month road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles, and for the last two years she has ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Annie Hawkins

Departure Dates: May 30-June 7, 2015

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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Client Comments

An exceptional overview of the unspoiled Lot Valley! Robert H., Houston, TX A big plus for this trip was being in an area not ‘discovered’ by tourists. Edmond D., Claymont, DE 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 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 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 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 I would highly recommend this trip and your company to others. Everything was highly professional and FUN. Carol C., Paradise Valley, AZ
It was an exceptional trip. A wonderful itinerary, with beautiful areas for hiking as well as sightseeing. Suzanne T., Santa Rosa, CA 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
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 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 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

Recent Photo Blog Posts

On the Pilgrim's Path, Suzy McIntosh