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Stage town for the third time
Prefecture of Lot (46)
Population: 19,950 (Cadurcians), 41,700 in the 36 communes of the Greater Cahors agglomeration community, 174,000 in Lot
Personalities: Léon Gambetta (politician), Jacques Duèze (Pope of the Catholic Church under the name of Jean XXII), Clément Marot (poet), Fabien Galthié (captain and then coach of the French rugby team), Charles Dumont (singer).
Specialities: duck in all its forms, Quercy lamb, black truffle, Rocamadour (cheese), Quercy melon, walnuts, saffron, Cahors wines.
Sport: Cahors Lot XIII (rugby league, Nationale 2). Facilities: 360 hectares of playing surfaces including 14 team sports pitches, 6 sports halls, 3 dojos, 15 tennis courts. Events: Quercy car rally
Festivals: Cahors Blues Festival.
Labels: City and Country of Art and History, UNICEF Child Friendly City, Terre de Jeux 2024.
Websites: www.cahorsagglo.fr

© C.Lauzin
© C.Lauzin
Cinéma Le Grand Palais © P.Lasvenes


50 years of AOC

In the majestic setting of the Lot valley, Cahors, a city of art and history, is ideal for exploration. With its exceptional medieval historical centre nestled in a loop of the Lot and surrounded by hills, Cahors cultivates its southern art of living.
Cahors is of course a wine. Cahors is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its AOC. It was in 1971 that Cahors obtained its appellation but, due to Covid, the festivities were postponed to this year.
The history of Cahors goes back well before 1971. As early as the 12th century, Cahors wines were exported to Northern Europe via the port of Bordeaux. In the 16th century, Francis I introduced Cahors wine at Renaissance banquets and in the 18th century, Czar Peter the Great consumed it extensively and the Russian Orthodox Church declared it a liturgical wine. A victim of phylloxera at the end of the 19th century, the vineyard took several decades to recover before obtaining the Holy Grail of the AOC in 1971. Since then, the policy of quality production has borne fruit and today, Cahors is distinguished by an emblematic grape variety, Malbec, and its great diversity of terroirs.
The vineyard is located on two main types of terroir: the limestone Causses and the Lot valley. Such a wealth of terroirs is not found in all vineyards and undeniably contributes to the uniqueness of the Cahors appellation. Thus, with the same Malbec grape variety, we obtain different wine profiles depending on the terroir of origin of the vines.
The wines of Cahors :
. AOC area of 21,700 hectares
. 45 municipalities
. 350 winegrowing families
. 20 million bottles per year

© P.Lasvenes


The prefecture of Lot has appeared twice on the Tour de France route, only once for a finish, in 1994, when Jacky Durand won with the French champion's jersey on his back. That year, he was on the attack almost every day and had spent more than 300 km at the front of the race before this victory. "Dudu", who has become one of cycling's most popular consultants, raised his arms again in the Tour in 1995 and 1998.
In 2007, Cahors was also the start of a stage won in Angoulême by Sandy Casar.
Cahors was on the route of the Tour de l'Avenir in 1985 and the Route du Sud between 1985 and 1987, with victories by Laurent Fignon and Charly Mottet.
Among the riders linked to Cahors is Romain Bellenger, winner of six stages of the Tour between 1921 and 1925, who died in the town in 1981.

Antoine Dupont © Pressesports/Fred Lancelot


Valentré Bridge
Construction: 1308 to 1380
Characteristics: with a length of 172 metres, the Valentré bridge has eight arches, falling on piles with a forebay. It has three towers, of which only the two on the banks were fortified with machicolations and archways. Each end was originally protected by a small castle, but these elements have almost disappeared nowadays. The Valentré Bridge has been a pedestrian bridge since 1995.
History: the first stone was laid in 1308 by first consul Géraud de Sabanac. The construction work lasted more than 70 years, giving rise to the legend that the devil helped the architect. In 1345, the bridge deck could be walked on, although the three towers were probably not completed until around 1380, despite the crises of the Hundred Years' War. The Valentré Bridge was restored around 1880 by architect Paul Gout, who had a small devil sculpted by the local artist Cyprien-Antoine Calmon at the top of the central tower.
Trivia: the architect made an agreement with the devil that he would sell his soul to him at the end of the construction of the bridge, unless Satan failed to carry out a mission given by the architect. The architect asked him to bring water to the workers in a bucket with a hole in it and saved his soul.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1840 / Classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1998 as part of the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago.

St. Etienne's Cathedral
Construction: 7th to 12th centuries. 15th and 16th centuries for the cloister
Style: Romanesque and flamboyant Gothic.
Characteristics: it is one of the largest French buildings with domes on pendentives and combines Romanesque and Gothic elements (choir). It houses the Holy Headdress, a relic which is said to have wrapped the head of Christ when he was laid in the tomb.
History: the construction of St Etienne's Cathedral and the early episcopal complex is traditionally attributed to Bishop Didier in the 7th century. The Roman cathedral had its two main altars consecrated in 1119 by Pope Calixtus II. Its nave is covered with the two largest domes in the southwest. The tympanum of the north portal dates from the 12th century. The cloister, a true masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic art, was built between 1493 and 1553. Around the cloister are various buildings belonging to the chapter. The Saint-Gausbert chapel, decorated with paintings executed at the end of the 15th century, has housed the cathedral's treasury since 1972.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1862, then 2020 / Unesco World Heritage Site as part of the Pilgrimage Route to Santiago de Compostela.

Château du Roi - Cahors prison
Construction: 14th century
Style: medieval
History: this former prison is also the former Via Palace. This palace, built in the 14th century by Pierre Via, the brother-in-law of Pope John XXII (born in Cahors), was refurbished in the 17th century, then became a prison from 1790. It was the oldest prison in France, and in 2006 it still housed around sixty inmates, before closing its doors in July 2012.
Special features: one of its chimneys, dating from the 14th century, now removed, was once used as a lighthouse to indicate the location of the port of Cahors to boatmen.
Lisiting: Historical Monument since 2019.

The 22 Secret Gardens
Designed in 2002 by the town's green spaces department, they are an original creation intended to enhance unused spaces in the old town of Cahors. Inspired by the gardens found in the castles and abbeys of the Middle Ages, they offer various themes related to the golden age of medieval Cahors: the Herbularium is a garden of medicinal plants nestling at the foot of the cathedral; the Courtil des Moines (Monks' Courtyard) uses chestnut planks to display the vegetables eaten in the Middle Ages; the Witch and Dragon Garden refers to demonic plants and legends...

Henri-Martin Museum
Founded: 1833, moved to the Bishop's Palace in 1929.
History: acquired by the Lot department in 1805, the former bishop's palace was built in several phases from the 15th century. The building ceased to be the seat of the bishopric in 1906. The park then became a public garden and the municipal museum was installed in the buildings in 1929.
Characteristics: reopened last May after renovation, the Cahors Henri Martin Museum offers several permanent display areas. The career of Henri Martin, a post-impressionist artist, is evoked through easel paintings and large-scale decorations. Works by other artists linked to Lot (Pierre Daura, Edmée Larnaudie) complete the display. The history of ideas is represented by Léon Gambetta, a native of Cahors, and by the pacifist World Citizens movement which brought together many Lot residents after the war. The archaeological sections focus on the Gallo-Roman and medieval periods. Finally, one room is devoted to classical fine arts and another to the Oceanic collection with the exceptional sculpture of the god Rongo.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1999 / Musée de France Label.

Scenic aerial view of medieval arched Valentre bridge across Lot River in French commune of Cahors on summer day © Getty/JackF
Cathedral of Cahors, Lot department, Occitanie, France © Getty/JavierGil1000
Cloister interior courtyard with grass in Cahors' Saint-Etienne cathedral in France © Getty/paulprescott72
© Creative Commons 3.0/Mossot

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