At Kingfisher holidays we have over 70 holiday south France cottages to let for spring, summer and autumn breaks. All our south France cottages are located in the Lot Valley so they are perfectly placed for fun, action adventure holidays among the rolling vineyards and ancient bastides that are typical of this most delightful and picturesque part of France. The landscape here sets the ideal stage for biking, hiking, rock climbing or kayaking – as well as more leisurely pursuits such as gentle walks, cycle rides and picnics! You can do all of this and much more down here in the south west of France!
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Canoeing / Kayaking
Canoeing or Kayaking is the perfect way to travel the Lot River and take in its scenery. Yes, you could make life easy on yourself by taking a nice leisurely cruise down river on a pleasure boat or cruiser. You’ll pass by the same awe inspiring Limestone rock features and cliffs, the same beautiful and typically French river side villages and you’ll see the same examples of bastide architecture. But the feeling won’t be quite the same or the memories quite as intense as those you’d get if you were actually down there, paddling and steering your way down river.
A number of local companies supply the equipment and a qualified instructor to act as teacher and/or guide. One particularly good local company we’ve found is The Canoeing Centre in Casseneuil. Here they offer canoe, pedal-boat and kayak rental so you can explore the river Lot. Boat rental is available from half a day to two full days and whilst you’re on the water, you can visit the towns and villages en-route including Sainte Livrade, Fongrave, Le Temple sur Lot and for the more experienced oarsman, Castelmoron. The company have even gone as far as to post signage up and down the river with information regarding the areas fauna and flora and its history. Their address is Quai des Gabarres, 47440 Casseneuil.
Hiking in the Lot Valley can be as demanding as you want to make it and the beauty of the Lot Valley, is that the terrain varies so much, there are trails here to suit everyone. Down along the river’s banks, in many places you’re in for a very pleasant stomp in amongst greenery and near to sometimes gently, sometimes rapidly, flowing water. But venture further up the valley sides and that leisurely stomp becomes more of a hike with each step up the incline, becoming that bit more testing than the last.
A visit to the cliff top village of St Cirque La Popie is a fair old hike in itself, as the village is some 100 metres up, above the river. Its well worth the trip though, when you reach the top you are rewarded with a wonderful village setting and the most spectacular views.
One of the most famous hikes in this part of the world is that known as the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela. “The Way of St James” stretches about 1000 miles from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. For nearly 8 Centuries, large numbers of pilgrims have travelled the route and that number increases every year. In 1985, the figure was nearly 2500, ten years later that figure had risen to just under 20,000 and another ten years on, in 2005, the number of people taking the 1600 km pilgrimage, reached nearly 94,000. One can only imagine what the figure for 2015 will be. This is no mean feat either, it is reckoned to take the best part of two and a half months if you factor in four or five days of rest, which you will need. The trail is at times breathtakingly beautiful and at other times, arduous almost beyond belief and no amount of map reading or “Google Earthing” will accurately describe for you, the level of commitment and sheer dogged determination you will need to complete it. It is said however that the more difficult the journey, the greater the reward!
Throughout the south west of France you will find walks hikes, and treks of all kinds. Some will take you through lush greenery, others over rolling hills and around vast fields of golden yellow oil seed or row upon row of vines. Whilst all different, they will all delight you with their natural splendour. The Lot Valley in particular is a walker’s paradise. Here you will encounter so many different terrains and it’s a real pleasure to one minute be walking alongside a grape laden vineyard, and another, be paddling in one of the areas many leisure lakes.
The River Lot has been carving its way through the areas Limestone landscape for thousands of years and this has led to the formation of a deep, steep sided valley, which is just perfect for climbing. Being a Limestone valley, the Lot River has a huge number of craggy outcrops, which are just ideal for climbing. There are even a number of ready bolted sports routes of varying degrees of difficulty, which have been laid out. Experienced climbers who come prepared with their own equipment, can pick up a local topographical guide to these climbing routes and venues from local tourist offices.
Mountain bikes and road bikes can be hired from various shops and garages around the area or, if you’d prefer, you can bring your own. Many people do. You can either strap them to the roof of your car on a roof rack on tie them to the back on a tailgate carrier. It might be that the owners of the cottages in South France that you are renting, will have some bikes that can lend you but this is unfortunately not guaranteed. Again, the local tourist office is the place to go and for just a few euros you can purchase a fairly detailed map which highlights the walks and the biking routes in and around your nearest town or village. These books are called Guide de la Randonnee and they show you routes in some detail marking interesting points along the way. On the ground the routes themselves are marked by coloured arrows.
South France Cottages for Holidays at a Different Pace
There is another side to this region though, a gentler, more sedate side, a side that prefers to take life a little slower and a little more gently. This side of the Lot Valley is one of ancient Bastide towns, leisurely walks in the countryside or even just in the grounds of your cottage. This is the southwest France of the poolside lounger, the barbecue, the long cool drink and the thumping good read. This is the south west France of the morning trip to the local boulangerie for a fresh French stick and a later visit to la boucherie for a little something for lunch or tea.
Walking in the Lot Valley
If all that lazing around does get a little too much, you can always break it up with a gentle walk in the beautiful French countryside. Our south France cottages are set in the most delightful grounds which in themselves make for a wonderful little strollette but if you fancy a bit of an explore, you will not be disappointed. Many of our south France cottages are located within striking distance of local market towns and of wonderfully picturesque leisure lakes. Sandy beaches border many of the lakes and a good number will have an eatery nearby, in case you get hungry, but what a lot of people do is get together a picnic and take it with them.
Picnics in the Lot Valley
One of the beauties of the Lot Valley countryside is that there is a picture postcard view around almost every corner. This means that you are never too far from an idyllic picnic spot. Many of them have been officially recognised as such and are kitted out with bench sets and litterbins.
Aside from these dedicated picnic spots, there are many other places you can set down a blanket and spend a relaxing few hours. You could settle yourselves on the banks of one of the many tributaries that cascade the hillsides on their way to join the waters of The Lot or you could seek out a wonderful old château and lay your blankets on the grass. One such place is the Châteaux Bonaguil, near Fumel. Heralded as the most beautiful castle in France, this historic building dates back to the 13th Century, was modified and further fortified in the 15th, 16th and 18th Centuries and is now a listed building, owned by the municipality. Its grounds are simply beautiful, they are extremely well tended and the building itself, looks like something out of a fairy tale
Cycling in the Lot Valley
Cycling in the Lot Valley does not all have to be about washboards and veggie tunnels or any other term used by adrenalin junkies to describe rough terrain. It can be one of the most peaceful and relaxing pastimes and a veritable treasure trove of lasting memories. There are cycle routes aplenty here and, since there is very little traffic on the roads, there is a high degree of safety too.
A suggested route might be the Lot Valley Veloroute. This is a 160km route, which has been way marked from Aiguillon to Fumel going on to the wonderfully picturesque and typically French town of Cahors. Part of this cycle route involves a green way, which runs along the side of the Garonne Canal. Cars are banned from green ways and in any case, most of the time there isn’t room for one, so you’ll be quite safe here.
If you get into it and fancy a bit more of a challenge or maybe feel like working off a few pounds, you could venture up into the hillsides. The ride gets tougher as you climb but its worth it. You’ll return exhausted but relaxed and happy in the knowledge that you can have breakfast tomorrow and not worry about it.
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