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On the road

Occitania Region

Departments : Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Hérault, Lot, Lozère, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne
Population: 5.9 million
Prefecture: Toulouse
Area: 72,724 km2
Specialities: foie gras, cassoulet, aligot, tielle sétoise, brandade de morue (cod brandade), haricots tarbais (beans), garbure (soup), sweet onion, Céret cherries, wines (Pic Saint-Loup, Corbières, Cahors, Costières de Nîmes, blanquette of Limoux, Minervois, Tavel, Madiran). Perrier spring water.
Sports clubs: Stade Toulousain, Castres Olympique, Montpellier HR, USAP Perpignan (rugby union), Montpellier HSC, Nîmes Olympique, Toulouse FC (football), Dragons Catalans (rugby league), Montpellier Handball, Fenix Toulouse, USAM Nîmes-Gard (handball)
Competitions: Tour de France, Open Sud de France (tennis), Route d'Occitanie (cycling).
Economy: aeronautics and space (Airbus, Ariane, Toulouse), defence, information technology, nuclear, agri-food, agriculture (wines, cereals) tourism, pharmaceutical industry. Universities (Montpellier, Toulouse).
Festivals: Nîmes and Béziers férias, Rio Loco (Toulouse), Radio France Festival Montpellier (classical music), Comédie du Livre (book fair, Montpellier), Electro Beach (Port Barcarès), Jazz in Marciac, Cinémed (Montpellier), Circa Auch, Noir Novel Fesrtival Frontignan.
Sights: Cité de Carcassonne, basilica of Lourdes, Toulouse (Capitole, Saint-Sernin, ville rose), Montpellier (place de la Comédie, Écusson), beaches, Pont du Gard, Nîmes ampthitheatre, Cathar castles, Canal du Midi, cathedrals of Albi, Castres and Rodez. Millau Viaduct, Niaux and Maz d'Azil caves. Valentré Bridge in Cahors. Villages of character. Beaches in the Aude, Gard and Hérault. Ski resorts in the Pyrenees and Ariège.

LOT (46)

Region: Occitania
Population: 174,000
Area: 5,217 km² (5,217 sq mi)
Number of municipalities: 313 municipalities
Prefecture: Cahors (21 000 inhabitants)
Sub-prefectures: Figeac and Gourdon
Specialities: many local products are registered under an official sign of quality (AOP, AOC, IGP and red label): Cahors wine, Coteaux du Quercy wines, Lot wine, Quercy saffron, foie gras duck from the South-West, Quercy melons, Quercy farm lamb, black truffles, rocamadour cheese, walnuts, Pastis Quercynois (a cake, not a drink!), the leavened mique (thick leavened pastry cooked on a low heat in a broth accompanied by vegetables and a little salt).
Economy: four major sectors: electrical construction (Cahors group), aeronautics (Ratier Figeac, Figeac Aéro), mechanics (Figeac/Saint-Céré industrial arc), agri-food (historic headquarters of Andros at Biars-sur-Cère). Lot is also home to a multitude of small companies at the cutting edge of innovation, such as Whylot (in Cambes), which designs the engines of tomorrow, Soben (in Cahors), which has invented a delivery robot made in the Lot, and Pivaudran (in Souillac), a manufacturer of luxury metal packaging for perfumery and cosmetics, Thiot ingénierie (shock physics laboratory) in Puybrun, ITHPP (specialist in high-powered pulses) in Thégra, M2I biocontrol in Parnac (European leader in the production of biological solutions for the protection of plants and crops using pheromones)...
Heritage: 420 protected sites and monuments, including the legendary Valentré Bridge in Cahors (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela), the medieval town of Rocamadour, renowned underground sites (Gouffre de Padirac, Pech-Merle cave, etc.), the villages of Saint-Cirq Lapopie, Autoire, Loubressac, Cardaillac, Carennac and Capdenac-le-Haut are listed among the most beautiful villages in France.), the villages of Saint-Cirq Lapopie, Autoire, Loubressac, Cardaillac, Carennac and Capdenac-le-Haut are classified among the most beautiful villages in France.
Sport: International Urban Trial in Cahors (20,000 spectators): event organised in the town centre. The Easter Tournament in Cahors (football, youth teams), Lacapelle-Marival hosted the motocross world championship (MXGP) in October 2021, the Vayrac criterium (cycling), the "Dordogne Intégrale" (long-distance extreme race in canoe and stand-up paddle)
Culture and festivals: Saint-Céré festival (lyrical art), Rencontres cinéma in Gindou, Cahors blues festival, Souillac en jazz, Ecaussystème in Gignac (contemporary music), Africajarc (world music), Figeac theatre festival, Lot of Saveurs in Cahors (gastronomy), Rocamadour festival (sacred music). Figeac is home to the Musée des Ecritures and a giant reproduction of the Rosetta stone, deciphered by Jean-François Champollion (a native of the town), and Souillac, the Musée de l'Automate.
Websites and social networks :

The spectacular city of Rocamadour, the legendary Valentré Bridge in Cahors, the jewel of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and the impressive Padirac cave: behind these famous postcards lies Lot, a human-sized jewel with a preserved environment (a major reservoir of biodiversity with natural areas covering 70 pc of the territory and a sky free of light pollution). Between white Quercy, green Bouriane and the hilly Ségala, this department with an Occitan accent, irrigated by the Lot and Dordogne rivers, is varied. And synonymous with Cahors wine, the dry stones of the Causses, truffles and confits...
Here we live well, here we are well. And this has always been the case, as evidenced by the decorated caves (Pech Merle), the Gallo-Roman remains (the battle of Uxellodunum took place here), the numerous castles from the Middle Ages and the typical villages.
People come from far and wide to visit Lot. So why not live in these holiday sites full time? Why not take advantage all year round of the hiking trails, the panoramic views, the friendly markets, the bastides and, when the season comes, the mountain biking spots, sailing on the Lot, kayaking on the Dordogne or the Célé, or the fly fishing or night carp fishing sites? There are jobs to be filled, shops and craft companies to be taken over... The industries of Lot are recruiting in the aeronautics sector, innovating in the cutting-edge sectors (electrical and electronic construction), and developing in the agri-food sector (jam makers, palm oil industry)...
The "Oh my Lot" network offers personalised support for setting up in the department.
Information on

Km 4.2

Anglars (Pop: 220)

Saint Martin's Church
Construction: early 13th century, then 18th century.
Styles: Romanesque and Gothic
Characteristics: the church has a single nave, flanked by two two-bay chapels which form two aisles to the north and south. The very imposing bell tower is probably a former belfry tower that became a church tower, which is not uncommon in the Quercy region.
History: a Benedictine priory is attested in Anglars in 972. At the end of the Hundred Years' War, English bands seized Anglars, from where they ransacked the country. The church was burnt down at that time. All that remains of the Romanesque church is the bell tower, which may have been built in the late 12th or early 13th century. The church was probably rebuilt in 1720, giving a fine example of early 18th century Gothic construction.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1930.

Km 10.1

Aynac (Pop: 560)

Among the celebrities of Aynac, Charles Ribeyrolles (1812-1860), a republican writer and opponent of Napoleon III's regime. He spent most of his life in exile, notably in Jersey where he rubbed shoulders with Victor Hugo.

Château d'Aynac
Construction: 16th to 19th centuries.
Style: renaissance
Characteristics: standing at the end of an eight-hectare park, the castle consists of a six-storey keep surrounded by two three-storey buildings, around a courtyard open to the south. The castle is totally asymmetrical and seems to have been built on a primitive structure. It is flanked by four round towers, crenellated and topped by so-called "imperial" domes.
History: the castle was built by the lords of Aynac in the Renaissance style. Its towers are topped with domes and its interiors are decorated with luxuriant decorations. It was then abandoned throughout the 18th century. During the Revolution, it was looted and its archives were destroyed. In 1875, Étienne-Guy de Turenne d'Aynac married Elizabeth de Wagram, who took a liking to the castle and restored it. Louise de Turenne d'Aynac was the last descendant of the family to live in the château, which was bought by the commune in 1973 to house the town hall and holiday camps. In 2008 the commune decided to sell the castle to racing driver Laurent Battut.
Current destination: the castle hosts the annual Castine Rally and the Aynac Motor Festival, a festive gathering of classic cars.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1988.

Saint-Geniès Church
Construction: 12th to 19th centuries.
Style: Romanesque.
History: the existence of a church is not mentioned before the 10th century. It was then a priory dependent on Cahors Cathedral. The church was partly rebuilt and extended in 1882 in the neo-Romanesque style.
Characteristics: the building was built on a Latin cross plan. It has a chevet following a Benedictine plan, consisting of an apse flanked by two apsidioles opening onto the crosses of a wide transept.
Listing: Historical Monument in 1913.

Km 13.7

Saignes (Pop: 75)

Saignes Castle
Construction: 13th (keep) and 16th century.
Style: Medieval and Renaissance.
History: the present castle was built around a medieval keep by Pierre IV de Lagarde, who was born at the end of the 15th century and died in 1566, and was one of the most important diplomats of François I. The last descendant of the family, Henri de La Garde, Count of Saignes, died in Saignes in 1923. However, the castle of Saignes was abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century and was used as a stone quarry.
Characteristics: the castle of Saignes rises on an eminence of approximately 400 meters of altitude. Large retaining walls (former ramparts) form an artificial terrace on which the castle and its outbuildings were built, including the seigniorial chapel, separate from the castle. The dwelling, remodelled during the Renaissance, is framed by an imposing circular keep and a square tower with a corbelled circular turret. In front of it, a curtain wall is bastioned with two defensive towers into which gunports open. At the end of the seigniorial courtyard, to the south-east, a long building is bordered by two imposing towers, dating from the 14th century.
Current destination: carefully restored between 2013 and 2019, the castle is open to visitors.
Listing: Historical Monument since 2002.

Km 17.1

Bio (340 inhabitants)

Causses du Quercy Regional Nature Park
Created in 1999, as its name indicates, it is mainly based on the territory of the Causses du Quercy, since it encompasses from north to south the Causses of Gramat, Saint-Chels and Limogne, but also includes part of Quercy Blanc to the south (Lalbenque, Belfort-du-Quercy, Belmont-Sainte-Foi) and bends to the east over the heights of Limargue. The territory is cut by several valleys including those of the Dordogne at its northern end, the Célé and the Lot.

Km 19.2

Lavergne (Pop: 460)

St. Blaise Church
Construction: 12th to 19th centuries.
Style: Gothic
History: the church of Lavergne depended on the conventual priory of Saint-Robert de Védrenne in Égletons, which itself depended on the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu before depending, in the 17th century, on the abbey of La Couronne and the Canons Regular of Saint-Augustin de Cahors. The priors of Lavergne are known from 1314. The mention of "cloister floor" on documents suggests that it was a priory.
Features: notable mainly for its bell tower.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1925.

Tumulus Racecourse
Founded: 1895
Characteristics: the Pari Mutuel has organised two horse meetings there since 1895, trotting and galloping races, notably reserved for Arabian thoroughbreds, whose breeding is very present in the Lot. The stands were built between 1921 and 1922. In 2010, renovation work began to bring them up to safety standards. The meetings take place in August.
Trivia: so named because of the proximity of the enormous Iron Age tumulus nicknamed in the region "Gargantua's turd".

Km 20.4

Gramat (Pop: 3,470)
Occupied by man since prehistoric times (presence of dolmens, discovery of tools or carved flints), Gramat was situated during Antiquity at the crossroads of two Roman roads linking Cahors to Limoges and Rodez to Périgueux.
This location allowed it to be frequented by many pilgrims and to develop as a commercial centre in the Middle Ages. Having become a barony, the seigneury of Gramat was held by four families until the Revolution.
Occupied by English troops during the Hundred Years' War and looted again during the Wars of Religion, the town then regained a certain serenity, asserting itself as a commercial, craft and agricultural centre between Quercy and Périgord. In its centre is a picturesque 19th century market hall.

Animal park of Gramat
Open to the public since May 1980, it is managed by the association for the study and protection of the fauna and flora of the causse created for this purpose in 1976. With a surface area of 40 hectares, it opens out into the natural setting of the Causse de Gramat and allows visitors to discover the typical flora of the region (pubescent oak, Montpellier maple, common juniper, male dogwood, etc.) on a 3.5 km walk.
Above all, it offers the opportunity to observe numerous animal species, mainly European, but also exotic (ostrich, emu, guanaco, yak). It participates in the protection of certain particularly threatened species, such as Przewalski's horse, Egyptian vulture and European otter. Animals born in Gramat have been successfully reintroduced into their natural environment. Gramat Park is also home to the European conservatory of primitive breeds of domestic animals. A breeding programme for farmyard animals has been developed to preserve the diversity of domestic breeds.

St. Peter's Church
Built: 1923
Style: neo-gothic
Characteristics: this monumental church located in the heart of the town of Gramat was built in 1923 by departmental architect Emile Toulouse, succeeding a first building located outside the town which was abandoned and then destroyed. The neo-Gothic style of the building was inspired by the cathedrals of the Ile de France, with a wide nave, flanked by two side aisles and bordered by a transept. Inside, superb stained-glass windows by Charles Champigneule depict episodes from the life of Jesus.
Special feature: the Junck organ (1853) is a listed building.

Km 32.5

Couzou (Pop: 100)

La Pannonie Castle
Construction: 15th to 19th century
History: In 1685, the Vidal de Lapize family built the "new" Château de la Pannonie. In the years 1730-1760, La Pannonie was embellished in the purest classical style and endowed with a beautiful interior decoration, the only example in Quercy of this type of architecture "à la Parisienne". The castle has been owned by the same family since the 17th century, thus showing their desire to preserve this heritage.
Special features: in 1780, Antoine Vidal de Lapize acquired a set of paintings on wood and canvas from the château de Saint-Sulpice and installed them in the château de la Pannonie. The park is listed Natura 2000.
Current destination: open to visitors from June to October.
Listing: Historical Monument in 1992

Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte Church
Construction: 1650 to 1864
History: the church of Saint-Cyr d'Alzou was the parish church of the inhabitants of La Pannonie. The inhabitants complained about its remoteness, so Jean Magdelon de La Grange spent 1,500 pounds to build a new church near the castle in the second quarter of the 17th century. In 1685, La Pannonie became the property of Pierre-Antoine Vidal de Lapize. The church was given a new bell tower and a gilded wooden altarpiece as part of the extensive reconstruction of the castle. The church was further extended in the 19th century.
Listing: Historical Monument since 2012.

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