Cahors is the main town in the Department of the Lot and it is contained (almost entirely) in a small peninsula created by a loop in the river Lot.
Cahors was originally a large Roman city, with evidence still in existence today. It declined economically since the Middle Ages when it had developed into a major financial centre; earning it the dubious distinction of being the only place (other than Sodom) referred to, in Dante’s Inferno, as a wicked place. This was due to its resident bankers offering loans and charging interest on them – this form of usury was, at the time, declared a sin by the church.
Today Cahors is a popular tourist centre with its mediaeval quarter and the 14th-century fortified Valentré Bridge, the cathedral (with its very attractive cloister). Cahors’ medieval quarter dates back to the 13th century and developed greatly as the bankers and merchants arrived in the town. Parts of the town’s original ramparts can still be seen in the north of the town.
The famous and beautiful bridge, the Pont Valentré was built in the 14th century. It has three towers each with large arched gateways due to its historical role as a defensive bridge. The bridge is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cahors market is held on Saturdays and Wednesdays (adjacent to the cathedral) and this is a good time to visit the town. Parking tends to be around the outer edges of the town but there is also a great underground carpark under the very centre of town. Just follow the signs for the Amphitheatre (a Roman Amphitheatre found during the creation of this carpark and this has been beautifully exposed).
The town has a lovely selection of independent shops and many restaurants and cafés. Making this a worthwhile destination worthy of a little of anybody’s time.
Cahors has also become well known for the wonderful small gardens scattered throughout the town and there is a map (from the tourist office) to guide you through the garden trail. It is a wonderful way to explore the town and the route leads you past all the main sights.
For many people Cahors is best known for - the local wines are highly regarded within France and further-afield, in particular the black ‘Malbec’ full-bodied, red wine produced locally. If you head west along the Lot Valley you will find the vineyards producing this famous wine, many offering a chance for you to call in and test their wares. www.cahorsmalbec.com
You can find out much more about Cahors from the Tourist Office