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.
This trip was incredible. I felt like I had never seen the ‘real’ France until this trip. The itinerary was perfect and I felt like we were transported into a different time. It was amazing!
— Chereen L., Steamboat Springs, CO
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.
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.
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.
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.