Sunday, 2 March 2014

A boat trip from Cahors to Saint-Cirq Lapopie on the Lot river.

I'm sorry that I have not quite yet returned to blogging about the Charente, but this one is set, at least, in a much closer location than recent posts!  

It was a trip we did with our local leisure club on 26 June last year. We had a very early start from home, leaving long before the sun came up(!), to drive south by coach to the department of Lot and its capital town of Cahors.  The town was established long ago, for defensive purposes, in a loop in the Lot river. We were unable to get a glimpse of the town (except from the boat), as the coach whisked us directly to the riverboat that was waiting for us, as you can see below.

 In the background, you can see the Pont Valentré, which is a 14th-century six-span fortified stone arch bridge crossing the river just to the west of the town.


The Lot river is 485 km (300 miles) long in total, but it is very meandering so the length as the crow flies is much less! It rises in the high ground of southern France and flows westwards until it joins the Garonne, which eventually flows into the Atlantic, on the way cutting deeply into the landscape, creating striking gorge scenery. The Lot is only partly navigable and a lack of maintenance over many years meant that its use for river traffic diminished. About 40 years ago, a repair scheme was started on the river and its catchment area, including rebuilding of the many locks to allow a resumption of boating activities. Our trip was on the upper Lot, all at a leisurely pace as it takes time to get the 120 seater boat through the many locks. I tended to lose count, but I think there are 10 on the 6 hour trip, which included a stop for lunch!

A closer look at the bridge as the boat carries us upstream.  Note the ducks following behind us, no doubt hoping to benefit from scraps thrown overboard!

 This was (I think) the first lock, at Ecluse de Coty (ecluse being French for lock) which was probably the prettiest of all.

Still in the Lot river 'loop' we could see the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne while travelling down the East side of the town. The church was built by bishop Gerard de Cardaillac in the 11th century, on the site of a church erected in the 7th century by St. Didier of Cahors

A little further on was the Château du Roi. This was thought to have been built in the first half of the fourteenth century by Pierre Via, the brother of Pope John XXII. The house had two towers and two buildings. Today only the  powerful tower called the "King's Castle" remains....

together with the Tour St Jean (above). The Hundred Years War, mainly between England and France, which affected this part of France between 1337 and 1453, and about which I have written before, forced residents of Cahors to build a new wall to the north of the town, across the loop of the river to enclose the city on its fourth side, for protection of the inhabitants and monasteries against raiding parties of English and allied forces!  The tower Saint-Jean and the wall were built between 1345 and 1347.


Leaving Cahors, we first passed the small village of Laroque-des-Arcs  with its  500 inhabitants.

Not an easy walk to church, but a stunning feat of building and engineering!

Before travelling on to Bouzies and Lapopie, we pulled alongside the bank to have an excellent 4 course lunch, with no shortage of wine! The catering was very slickly managed in such a confined space, but the crew had it down to a fine art!

This cave dwelling dates back to the 14th century and it was used as a shelter and a watch post by the English during the aforementioned war! It comprises a maze of caverns and also a stairway, which leads to the top of the cliffs, thus offering the English occupants a safe and secret way to escape from the area.

 Along this part of the river, a tow-path was carved by hand (!) in the mid 1800s to allow a means for horses to tow barges along this section of river.

After the tow-path was constructed, a local artist carved intricate seashell patterns and other designs into the walls of the pathway.


A  bridge formerly carrying a railway across the river, but now just a pedestrian footbridge and cycleway.



Yet another of the many bridges we saw along the way - this one rail. Note the overhead power lines for trains, a very common means of train propulsion in France.



A heron fishing at one of the locks.


A suspension bridge across the river.



Finally approaching Saint-Cirq Lapopie ( yet another of the most beautiful villages in France!) ....




Heading into disembark at the landing stage for the village.  I hope you enjoyed this boat trip with us.  As St Cirq-Lapopie is one of France's most beautiful villages, I think it deserves a post of its own.  Watch this space for the next part of this wonderful day out.


and my daily blog


74 comments:

  1. The village looks very substantial and appears it would do a great job of fending off the enemy during the Hundred Year War. The Lot River is pretty the way it winds around and that castle cave in the rock from the 14th century is just unbelievable and in what appears to be excellent shape. Nevertheless, I'm glad I didn't live there during that time :)

    What an informative tour.
    Sam

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    1. I agree Sam, I am sure the town did a good job of defence with that wall and being right in the loop of the river. There are so many beautiful parts of France that have survived for so many years. I have to agree though I am glad I did not live there in those years. Keep well and look after your back Diane

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  2. Gorgeous sceneries! The bridge with the towers on top is fantastic. What a great boat tour it must have been.

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    1. Thanks José, yes the scenery is amazing and so much to look at while being on the tour. It was fun as well as interesting. Have a good week Diane

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  3. Hello:

    What a truly memorable boat trip. This looks to have been exactly the kind of thing which we should have much enjoyed. What surprises us, as shown by you here, are the number of really fascinating, beautiful and interesting places to be seen from the boat en route. We have often been tempted to take a long river boat trip down the Danube to the Black Sea but as yet have not done so.

    Jó hétvégét!

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    1. Hi Jane and Lance, good to have you back in the blogging world again. I am sure a trip down the Danube would be equally as interesting. 14 days from Vienna to Bucharest is what I have just discovered, that may be a bit long, but I am sure they do shorter cruises as well. It was a good day though and very memorable. Have a great week. Diane

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  4. You do take good photographs!
    That happy lunch time one took me back to the times when I used to go out with the Am Dram bunch...every association had its outings and there were a lot of associations in my first village!

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    1. Thank you fly, compliment appreciated. The French do enjoy their outings and repas and I have to admit we would not have so much fun if we had of retired in the UK :) We miss this years June outing as we have a self planned holiday across Spain with a couple of week in Portugal. It may also give me a complete computer break as both sets of friends we are staying with have PAUG dongles! Have a good week, hope the building is going well. Diane

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  5. My sister lives very close to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. She bought a house right on the Lot river and it is fun to look at the boats go by. It really is a beautiful region and the food delicious.

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    1. Nadege your sister is very lucky, it is a beautiful region you are right. A stunning place to live. Keep well Diane

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  6. this cave building is simply amazing! a nice trip!

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    1. Ola, it was amazing. Thanks for the comment. Take care Diane

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  7. what a fabulous place. it is all gorgeous!

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    1. Jaz it is a beautiful district. Hope all is well have a good week. Diane

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  8. Thank you for taking us on this wonderful tour. What a grand adventure!! Cathy

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    1. Cathy you are right it was an adventure. So glad you enjoyed it. Take care Diane

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  9. What a charming way to learn local history! Great photos!

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    1. Best way ever Rosaria to learn history. Now if only at school we had of had lessons like that :-)) Keep well Diane

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  10. What a wonderful tour of such a beautiful country. I can't wait to see more.

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    1. Thanks Horst, it is quite beautiful in this area. Hope that you are well and that the hip is now back to normal. Diane

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  11. Hello Diane , such a fantastic post and brings back so may memories of my trip in 2010. This is the area where I stayed .In a little hamlet north of Cahors near a place named Carjac. I was right where you were :-) the house I was staying in was just across the road from The Lot. I could see it from my bedroom window. I must look at my photos to see if we have any the same. Take care xox oh and my brother and his friend were in Cahors last week. Xo

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    1. Hi Anne, yes I remember your post and at the time thinking how beautiful it was in that area. Glad I was able to bring back some good memories for you. Take care and have a good week Diane xox

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  12. Fascinating post and great tour. What breathtaking views!

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    1. Thanks Linda, it is a very beautiful area, I would loved to have seen more but we only had the day trip. maybe we can go for a long weekend sometime. Have a good day Diane

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  13. Diane - I really hate the fact that you are so popular as I'm always at the bottom of all your friends comments. All I wanted to say was - I love this area. We stayed in Vers and I cycled many roads along the Lot - just beautiful and would love to return.

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    1. Hi Leon, you will never be at the bottom of my friends list, you and Sue are way up at the top :-) It is a stunning part of the world and I can imagine cycling around there would be wonderful. A very different view though to what we had in the boat. Keep well you two. Not long and you will be back. D & N

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  14. Wonderfull shots and landscapes, greeting from Belgium

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    1. Thanks so much retriever, glad that you enjoyed. Take care Diane

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  15. The combination of luscious green and calm water is just very relaxing!

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    1. Glad you are now feeling relaxed :-)) Take care Diane

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  16. This is a lovely area of France and it certainly sounds like seeing it from the river is an excellent notion. Despite having explored the area a bit, I never managed to get to explore the town of Cahors. I have managed to sample a few Cahors wines, though.

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    1. Phil it is beautiful, but then so are many places of France, all in different ways. Maybe one day we will return as it is not that far for a long weekend. Keep well Diane

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  17. H Diane .. what a brilliant place to visit - no wonder you went along ... great day out. I love those castles/defences built into the sides of the cliffs - cunning and very clever engineering skills ... while that tow-path must be gorgeous to walk along, or cycle by the river ..

    Excellent looking repast too ... I'll enjoy part two .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary it was interesting seeing such amazing places from the river but I would have enjoyed being able to walk around a lot more as well. Another day maybe. The meal was excellent but then the French are experts at that sort of thing :-) Have a good week Diane

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  18. You are so lucky that you get to travel & see all of these fabulous places. You seriously have added a lot of must see places to my bucket list. Great photos!

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    1. Pam we are lucky; living in Europe has some huge advantages for seeing the world as it was so many years back. We of course never had history anything like this when we lived in Africa. A different type of world and still much history attached to Africa in another way. Keep well Diane

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  19. What a great day out with your club. The villages and history are very interesting and the scenery so pretty and relaxing.

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    1. Diane it was a wonderful day out. We hope to return to the area very soon so we can see a bit more of the towns. Keep well Diane

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  20. The number of tourists will rise!:) It looks like the perfect day for a both trip.
    The caves.... surprised me.

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    1. Ha ha Gunn, it was a perfect day and yes the caves are surprising I agree. Have a great day. Diane

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  21. Just the sort of trip I would enjoy, I have happy memories of a family boating holiday that involved lots of locks on the Canal du Midi. :)

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    1. Thanks Linda for the comment, glad to bring back memories of happy holidays. Hope all is well with you, take care Diane

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  22. Μα τι υπέροχες φωτογραφίες απ αυτήν την θαυμάσια εκδρομή-κρουαζιέρα!!!
    Μας έμαθες τόσα πολλά, για την ιστορία του τόπου!
    Σου στέλνω την αγάπη μου!

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    1. Magda glad to hear that you are learning about France. Have a wonderful day and keep well Diane.

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  23. I'd just love to do this trip, Diane. It looks perfect. I've spent a little (but not enough!) time in the area, and hope to return. Take good care of yourself. Richard

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    1. Richard it really is a beautiful area, we hope to get back there for a few days later this year. Have a good evening Diane

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  24. What a great trip! It's all beautiful and green! I'd love to visit the area!

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    1. Pam it is a wonderful spot with lots of interesting historic buildings and very beautiful. Have a good evening Diane.

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  25. Incredible photography Diane, amazing places you saw. I found the cliff building intriguing and the bridge with the towers. So much history! Very enjoyable post, thank you :)

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    1. Thanks Denise the trip was oozing with history. We will return to see more of the Lot :-) Glad you enjoyed. Have a good weekend. Diane

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  26. The scenery is stunning! Looks like you had a wonderful trip.

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    1. Joyful it was a fabulous trip and no driving to to do before or after made it very enjoyable. Hope you are well Diane

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  27. I don't think in terms of such cliffs in France. It looks like a wonderful excursion!

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    1. Marjie there are many cliffs in areas of France. We happen to live in a flatter part of France. It was a great day out. Hope all is well with you both Diane.

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  28. I always wonder where you get this fascinating information from Diane. It is so good of you to share it with us. I love that cave dwelling and wish I had one here in the bush. :)

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    1. Joan I would also be very happy with a cave dwelling like that. Most of the info comes from the internet but it is not always easy searching in French!! Have a great weekend. Diane

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  29. Tu nous offres encore un très beau voyage. Merci beaucoup.
    A bientôt

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    1. Merci pour le commentaire Nadji. Bon week-end Diane

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  30. This is such beautiful countryside and interesting history. Amazing architecture. Makes me want to travel.

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    1. Thanks Sarah for your comment, the countryside is stunning and yes it made us want to travel writing this post. We are on our way back the for a couple of days in April :) Have a great week Diane.

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  31. I love to look at your pictures Diane, maybe it's because I myself don't do much travelling, actually I don't travel at all. I find travelling stressful. That picture of the heron is just too beautiful. What a lovely place. Have you heard that the MSC cruise line will now travel from France to Trapani, with stopovers in Civitavecchia and other places I think. Just hinting:) I think they will start in April and continue till September.

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    1. Thanks Francesca for your kind comments. We love travelling but we are restricted with flying as Nigel has a problem with his feet and only short flights are on the list. As for another cruise, we would never enjoy another one after the luxury of last years cruise thanks to our friend. We would not be able to afford anything like it, so best we remember the only one we have been on. This years plans are travel by car, and across Spain to Portugal. Keep well Diane

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  32. Hi Diane, thanks for the tour. Very beautiful scenery and your photography skill is very impressive. Love the suspension bridge. :))

    Have a wonderful week ahead,regards.

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    1. Thanks Amelia for the visit and the comment, much appreciated. Have a great weekend, Diane

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  33. Hi Diane - I'm sorry about the old blog link. These losers really need to get a life! Glad to see that all is well with you both. Stay well. Craig

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    1. Good to hear from you Craig, I hope that all is well. As for your old link I deleted it because it also has a virus!! Keep well and hope you have a great weekend. Diane

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  34. Hello Diane!
    What lovely photos to illustrate this very interesting trip to an area so highly charge with History!
    Indeed St Cirque Lapopie is quite a beautiful village and your pics reveal its wonders perfectly!
    Enjoy these gorgeous sunny days!
    Keep well!

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    1. Thanks Noushka, we are planning on another visit for 3 days in April to see on land what we missed from the water. The weather is great is it not, long may it last :-)) Take care and happy photographing. Diane

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  35. Wow, I love how the church was built as part of the mountain, so fascinating. Thanks again for taking us to your world of travels.

    Have a great weekend.

    Rose

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    1. All the churches around this area are pretty amazing. Thanks for the comment, Have a great day.

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  36. those are beautiful sceneries and pics from the boat ride and the cave is rather interesting!

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    1. Thanks Lena for the comment, glad you enjoyed the photos. Keep well Diane

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  37. I have enjoyed looking at all your trips – going back to reading your cruise posts and this last one too. You have shown us some beautiful cities and sites – what lovely trips you had and the photos are excellent. It was fun traveling virtually with you.

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    1. Thanks Vagabonde for the comment and so glad that you enjoyed you virtual travelling :-) We are returning to this area next month so we can see a bit more of Cahors and its history. Hope that all is well with the two of you. Diane

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