Coming to this wine-producing region of Occitanie, Cahors is where you can taste its most famous red wine. The vineyards here are spread over hectares, utilizing the variety of locally grown grapes, especially the famous Malbec, to produce wine. Visiting refineries in these estates will give you a sense of how the wines are made but here, you will also get a chance to taste some of the finest world-class red wines.
Pont ValentreThe seven-span Pont Valentré, on the western side of the city, south of the train station, is one of France’s most iconic medieval bridges, built as part of the town’s defences in the 14th century. The parapets projecting from two of its three tall towers were designed to allow defenders to drop missiles on attackers below. On the bank opposite the bridge, the Fontaine des Chartreux, dedicated to the city’s Gallo-Roman goddess Divona, was the city’s original centre.
Cathédrale St-ÉtienneThe airy nave of Cahors’ Romanesque cathedral, consecrated in 1119, is topped by two cupolas (at 18m wide, the largest in France). Some of the frescoes are from the 14th century, but the side chapels and carvings in the cloître (cloister) mainly date from the 16th-century Flamboyant Gothic period. On the north façade, a carved tympanum depicts Christ’s ascension surrounded by fluttering angels and pious saints. null
Tour du Pape Jean XXIIThe Tour du Pape Jean XXII (closed to the public) is the town’s tallest building at 34m high. It was originally part of a 14th-century mansion belonging to Jacques Duèse (later Pope John XXII), who constructed the Pont Valentré.
Musée de la RésistanceCahors was a base for the resistance during WWII. Look for displays on local hero Hélène Metges who died for the cause. As of mid-2018, the museum was closed indefinitely for renovation.
Farmers’ MarketFarmers’ markets in southern France are superior. So much produce is grown in the south, and when the food is fresh and local, there’s simply nothing better. The Cahors marché is located right in the historic center, next to the cathedral. The market is open from 8 AM to 1 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you’re not visiting on market day, you can find some local specialties at la Halle de Cahors, just across the street. Regional products of the Lot include foie gras and truffles.
Wander the streetsAt the tourist office, you can pick up a little map that pinpoints the city’s monuments and places of interest. Walking through the little ruelles in search of historical buildings feels like an architectural scavenger hunt. Even if you aren’t a history lover, you still might appreciate the pastel-toned and warm stone buildings that make up the town of Cahors.
La Fontaine des ChartreuxOne of the sites of interest along the river is la Fontaine des Chartreux. This natural spring is a limestone resurgence that was once used by Romans. The fountain was a place to worship Divona, the Celtic goddess of water after which Cahors was originally named. You can find the fountain just south of the Pont Valentré on the western side of the Lot.
La Maison de l’EauIn between the Valentré Bridge and the fountain is an old water pumping station that now houses a free museum! Inside you’ll find an exhibition about the history of Cahors, as well as information about other water stations and industrial innovations in France. It may be a small museum, but it is packed with details. Be aware that all of the informational panels are in French if you consider stopping in.
Do & See
Cahors is also known for its vibrant culture. Every year around the days of the French holidays in July, “Lot of Saveurs” or Cahors Blues Festivals is organized. This event is enthusiastic and allows music lovers across Europe to perform. It is this time of the year that the streets of Cahors are embellished with music, songs, food, and culture. So, to understand and enjoy France and especially the region of Occitanie more closely, you must add Cahors to your itinerary to make the most of your visit to this land of surprises.
Your visit to Cahors remains incomplete without visiting Saint-Etienne cathedral. Built in the Roman era around 1493 and 1553, this work of art is an icon representing a symbol of the identity of Cahors. Sculptures, high domes, Romanesque portal and architecture, studded ornaments, cloister, contemporary designs, and windows not just catch the attention of people coming from different parts of the world, but its unique work of art has given this monument a place in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites as well. The market and stalls between the narrow lanes are often filled with various local dishes and crafts for tourists to relish. Apart from this, to enjoy your leisure time, Olivier De Magny, the Secret Gardens, and Boulevard Gambetta, which divides old Cahors from the new Cahors, rejuvenates visitors from its lush green trees and flowers.
Enclosed by parched limestone hills, this historic town carries forward its legacy and splendid monumental diversity and therefore got “labeled as French towns of Art and History.” The famous Valentre Bridge is one example that attracts a considerable number of visitors annually. Given the title of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this bridge is also the most photographed monument in the world. A masterpiece of the 14 century, this bridge is structured with arches and cutwaters and has three towers adding its beauty. It is also famous for the Santiago pilgrim way too. With a devil association and myth and stories attached to it since its make, this bridge represents a technological advancement in construction in today’s world.