Six Month World Trip 2012 travel blog

Valentre Bridge Cahors

Bernie & keith on tourist train

Scared Puffle over Chasm Geouffre de Padirac

Geouffre de Padirac water cave

Geouffre de padirac cave

Rocomadour medieval town

Keith & sharen at chateau at Rocomadour

St. Cirq Lapopie

view from castle of St. Cirq Lapopie

spotted horses with 6 hand outlines in Pech Merle

stalactite & spotted horses prehistoric in Pech Merle

prehistoric mammoth drawing

Geouffre Promysaac Cyrstal Cathedral

prehistoric painting Lascaux caves

prehistoric painting Lascaux caves

prehistoric painting Lascaux caves

St. Stephens

St. Stephen's

We flew to Paris from Berlin, picked up a Hertz rental car and made our way through beautiful countryside to Cahors, France. The roads are great and the speed limit is 130 kms/hr except when raining and then its 110kms/hr. Still took us about 6 hours.

Originally our plan was to stay in Sarlatt as this is the area we had planned to visit a few caves. We had not booked ahead and when we did try to book a hotel/hostel….none were to be found!! All sold out. So we changed our plans and went to Cahors about 1.5 hrs south of Sarlatt.

We were looking forward to our WIFI so that we could get our blog up to date…guess what? It is broken in our hotel!! The only internet café was very expensive. This is why the France portion of our blog is being done now, after our return home! Oh well, better late than never.

CAHORS is a lovely medieval town tucked into a rounded nook of the Lot River. We could walk to most attractions. They have a large market every Wed & Sat. Lots of fresh fruit, veggies, clothes, accessories, AND black licorice…YEH!! Keith & Sharen were especially happy.

Bernie & Sharen found some cheap TASTY red & white wine. 1.5 l of white wine cost 2.8 euros= ~$3.75 cdn. Our question is, France makes wine and sells some of it cheaply within France……why, in BC where wine is also made, is wine soooo expensive to purchase within BC???

We took a tourist train ride around the old town of Cahors. It was fun and there were many points of interest:

The Valentre Bridge is the main landmark with its three towers. We had a couple of picnic dinners on the grass beside the bridge. It was built in the 14th century and is also known as the Devil’s bridge…..apparently the architect made a deal with the devil when building the bridge.

There is a fountain with tree clocks. A unique design that took three years to build.

Henri the 4th Mansion…it is said that he slept here when he attacked Cahors in 1580.

St. Stephen’s cathedral- a absolutely gorgeous church and on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostelle.

This region of France has many very interesting caves and old, old towns. Unfortunately most of the tours were in French only. In some we were given an English description, however, much info is missed when the guides are telling stories, etc

Taking pictures for the most part is forbidden so we had to settle on some postcards.

GEOUFFRE de PADIRAC is a water cave discovered in 1889. It is a natural chasm 75 metres deep and 33 m in diameter which is open to the air on the Causse de Gramat Lot. A river flows 103 metres below. We climbed down steps to the river and took a 500 metre long boat ride to Rain Lake where we were taken on a guided tour of the Great Caves with formations created by billions of drops of water. One gigantic stalactite was 60m high. There is a Great Domed vault which is 94 m high. The cave, sculpted by both water & time has produced its own masterpiece. Puffle was a little scared looking down from the top of the chasm. He did good in the cave though!

We visited the quaint old medieval town of ROCOMADOUR. It is carved right into the rock on a cliff high above the Alzou River in the Dordogne/Lot region. We climbed the Grand Staircase that rises from the lower commercial section to a cluster of churches and chapels partway up the cliff. Then we took a trail to the cliff summit where there was a medieval chateau that was once a protective fort. The views looking over the valley were great!

PECH MERLE is one of the most beautiful examples of artistic expression from prehistory remarkably preserved for 25,000 years!! This cave was discovered by in 1922 by 15 & 16 yr old boys. They swore each other to secrecy for all their life. Can you imagine their excitement at such a discovery? They quickly told their priest, Father Amedee Lemonizi and he documented that these drawings of horses, mammoths and bisons are indeed 25,000 yrs old! There is a drawing of spotted horses with 6 stencilled hands all around the horses.

This cave has been open to the public since 1926. We visited the cave in original condition….exceptional!!

We could see the root of an oak tree that dug its way through the ceiling of the cave to get anchored in the ground. It has four trunks on the surface by the entrance to the cave.

In order to preserve these paintings and drawings, only 25 visitors are permitted per tour and there are never more than 75 people in the cave at one time. Fascinating!!!

ST. CIRQ LAPOPIE is a medieval village perched on the top of a cliff 80 metres over the Lot River. It is considered one of the most beautiful non commercialized villages of France. The village lies on one of the important pilgrimage paths to Santiago de Compostelle that criss-cross France. On the “Way of St. James”, pilgrims pass through and continue to Cahors where they visit Stephen’s cathedral. We saw some pilgrims and wished we had known about this as we may have joined in. Mind you, it was way too hot for us at 47C!! (so we will wait and do this in Spain as we originally planned!)

We accessed the village through stone gates in the fortified walls and wandered around the narrow cobbled streets which contain a mixture of medieval houses. Views from the high cliff rocks of an old castle are stunning! Very enjoyable!!

Geouffre Promysaac is known as the “Crystal Cathedral” It is soooo pretty! The cavern was explored in 1907. This huge underground vault can be encompassed in a single glance. The density and variety of the of the crystallizations ornating the walls are stunning! This tour consisted of a light show with a musical background. So beautiful!

Le Thot (a museum) has some reproductions from the original Lascaux caves. We were allowed to take pictures here. The original Lascaux caves were discovered in 1940 and given historical protection in the same year. They were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1979. These hauntingly beautiful paintings are in peril and the original caves were closed to the public in 1963. The current Lascaux cave was constructed to the precise measurements of the original caves. Even the paintings and drawings are precisely copied. The originals are estimated to be up to 20,000 yrs old. There are over 2000 paintings. We only saw a few. Just fantastic!! This tour was in English so quite enjoyable.

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