Lot Valley Attractions
The river Lot is a river relatively little known outside France, though its valley has stretches of scenic beauty which fall little short of the grandeur of the Tarn valley.
The Lot rises at an altitude of 1,400m/4,600ft on Mont Goulet in the Cévennes, flows through the whole of the southern Massif Central and after traversing Quercy joins the Garonne in the Agenais (the region round Agen) after a total course of 480km/300mi. In earlier times it was an important navigable waterway, linking Auvergne and the town of Cahors with Bordeaux. It is now popular with canoe and kayak enthusiasts, who find excitement in traversing the gorges between Espalion and Entraygues - though the less expert will do well to keep below Entraygues.
The scenery of the Lot valley alternates between the gently beautiful and the wild and rugged. The roads which run through the valley give visitors an excellent opportunity of enjoying the scenery of this most characteristic of French rivers and seeing its towns and villages.
The most striking section of the valley is in the Gorges du Lot, the succession of gorges which, particularly between Estaing and Pont de Coursavy, challenge comparison with the gorges of the Tarn. Here the valley is caught between walls of rock some 300m/1,000ft high. At Entraygues-sur- Truyère the Lot is joined by the Truyère, with the impressive Gorges de la Truyère, which cut through the hills of Auvergne to the Viaduc de Garabit, interrupted by a number of imposing dams and beautiful artificial lakes; for much of the way, however, the road runs at some distance from the river. There is also a dam in the Gorges du Lot, at Golinhac, near Estaing.
Figeac (pop. 10,482), situated on the river Celé a short distance from the Lot, was on the old pilgrim road to Santiago. The town has preserved some charming old quarters. In the Hôtel de la Monnaie, a fine Gothic building, is a museum of local history. The oldest parts of the church of St-Sauveur date from the 11th C., but it was much altered in later centuries. Figeac was the birthplace of Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832), who first deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Above the town is the church of Notre-Dame du Puy, originally built in the 14th C. but, like St-Sauveur, much altered in later periods.
St Cirq-Lapopie, France
Cabrerets - Pech Merle Grotto
Cathedral of St Etienne
A short distance northeast of Place Aristide-Briand (in which is a monument to Léon Gambetta, 1838-1882) is the Romanesque/Byzantine Cathedral of St-Etienne (11th-15th C.), with a fine Romanesque north doorway, originally the main entrance, dating from the first building phase. The facade is 14th century. Fine paintings in the choir and on the dome. On the south side of the church is a Flamboyant-style cloister (16th C.).