Spain Guide

France Guide

Cahors France Auvergne Cahors

Cahors France

Cahors is the former capital of the distinctly southern Quercy region, a part of France where people often speak Occitan (Provencal). The town of Cahors began life as a Gallic settlement before becoming a Roman town; then it fell into Moorish, then English, and finally French hands. Henri IV captured Cahors in 1580 and spent a night at the Hotels des Roaldès at 271 quai Champollion, which you can visit from April to September.

There has been a university in Cahors for 400 years, and interesting sights include the cathedral and Pont Valentré. Wine must be consumed when visiting this area as, although Cahors wine is made from the same Malbec grapes as the Gironde Blaye and Bourg wines, it is much darker and dryer stuff and well worth a taste.


The 14th century fortifications protect the fat peninsula formed by a bend in the River Lot upon which Cahors was built. The Romanesque style Cathédrale St Étienne was consecrated in 1119. It sits in the middle of town and is one of the oldest in Périgord territory. The interior is quite similar to St Front in Périgueux and on the top are two 18m wide cupolas inspired by Near Eastern architecture.

Most people come to Cahors to see the fortified Pont Valentré, built in the 14th century to defend the west of the town from invaders. Three towers were added later and these closed using a portcullis, which meant that the bridge was like a separate fort. It is one of France's most photographed monuments, and with good reason. Cahors is also famous for being the birthplace of politician Léon Gambetta (1838 82), who has roads and squares throughout France, and even a Parisian métro station, named after him.

For accommodation in Cahors try L'Escargot on boulevard Gambetta (05 65 35 07 66) with value for money rooms from €40 55. Alternatively there is the attractive Terminus at 5 avenue Charles de Freycinet (05 65 53 32 00), covered in creepers and with rooms from €55 70. The Terminus is home to the celebrated Le Balandre restaurant that has menus from €35. Wine bar Le Dousil on rue Nationale is a great place to try the local red wines and it also serves food from around €9. Le Bordeaux brasserie at the top of boulevard Gambetta is lively and has menus from €9.