The Lot River is a Nicols favourite and considered one of the most beautiful waterways in France. We believe there is only one way you should explore it – by hiring a self-drive canal boat and enjoying the charm of its twists and turns, surrounding flora and fauna and the steep cliffs that line it. Your boating holiday route will also lead you to interesting villages such as Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (a regular winner of France’s ‘most beautiful village’ accolade) and the city of Cahors with its vineyards and prestigious wine making.
Your boating holiday in the Lot begins the minute you collect your Nicols canal boat from the base at Cahors, a medieval town with a renowned vineyard. The city is easily accessible by both road and by train (the station is just a few hundred metres from our base) and its location centrally within the Lot valley means you can see the many beautiful villages that can be found both upstream and downstream.
The Lot river loops right around the city of Cahors making it an essential place to discover during a canal boating holiday. Also there is no better way to get up close to the famous medieval Valentré Bridge than on your spacious canal barge! Once in the city, discover the historic centre decorated with stunning and extremely well-preserved architecture such as Saint-Etienne Cathedral, Château du Roi, Tour des Pendes (‘Tower of the Hanged’) as well as the hundreds of medieval houses that give a real feeling of the rich past of Cahors.
Mercuès: a former summer residence of the Bishops of Cahors
Once at the lock at Mercuès on your boating holiday, scan the heights of this village in the heart of the land of black truffles and Malbec wines. The Château de Mercuès sits dominating on a rocky spur and is the former summer residence of the Bishops of Cahors. Today it is a four star Relais & Châteaux hotel and winery which can be visited, but only by reservation in advance.
Douelle: discover the wine cellars of Malbec
Once a major trading port of the Lot Valley, Douelle is today an interesting stop-off point in your boating holiday itinerary. Take advantage of the great opportunity for visiting the many castles and vineyards of the Lot Valley and Cahors.
Luzech: in the heart of the Cahors vineyards
This peninsula forms one of the most spectacular sites of the Lot Valley and the Cahors vineyards. A pedestrian route allows easy exploring of the charms of this typical regional village including the House of the Consuls of the 12th century, Chapel Saint-Jacques (known as Pénitents Bleus), episcopal dungeon, medieval ruins and narrow streets...
Laroque-des-Arcs: mix a canal boat trip with exploring Roman ruins.
Founded in the twelfth century, Laroque-des-Arcs role was to protect the ‘arches’ of the Roman aqueduct bringing the water Font Polémie to the thermal baths of Cahors. Traces and remains of the aqueduct are still visible at the Pech de Clary near the Saint-Roch Chapel as are the ruins of the toll tower used by the Lords.
Vers: waterfalls and watermills
With its small waterfalls and a string of water mills along the winding Vers River, the village of Vers is full of traditional charm. Moor your Nicols self-drive canal boat at the pontoons located at the foot of the village. From here there are several hikes that allow you to explore the verdant valley that surrounds the Vers River and that is so popular with fisherman and walkers. Also take time to visit the Notre-Dame Chapel which dates back to the twelfth century.
Saint-Géry: enjoy a panoramic view of the cliffs
Found halfway between Cahors and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Saint-Géry is nestled at the foot of the majestic Causse cliffs and bordered by the green banks of the Lot River. Set on the perimeter of a nature reserve, Saint-Géry offers peace and tranquillity – something that has been appreciated from back as far as when the pilgrims on the Saint-Jacques de Compostela route would rest here before resuming their journey. From the village square, take the road that climbs to the Causse de Nezou and enjoy panoramic views across the Lot valley and limestone cliffs in the heart of the Causses du Quercy Natural Park. Families should also visit the Mémorail Quercy Vapeur museum to discover the history of the railway and enjoy rides on the replica mini-trains.
Bouziès: impressive towpath that’s cut into the cliff side
Bouziès is the starting point of the towpath that links to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (a 10km round trip). Dug directly into the limestone cliffs, the towpath trail is impressive and you can either walk it on foot or follow its course by water onboard your canal barge. A highlight of the towpath is a 30 metre long art carving that illustrates the river and its environment. Also make sure you and your crew look up to spot the Château des Anglais – an amazing defence post from the Hundred Years War that is nestled in the crevices of the cliff.
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: the cliff hanging medieval village!
A visit to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a must when exploring the Lot region by canal boat. Perched on a cliff some 80 metres above the river, the village offers the magic spectacle of its medieval houses clinging to the rock. At the foot of this village, ranked among the most beautiful in France, is a swimming and watersports centre that has a large supervised beach area, a playground, a cafe/bar and offers hire of pedalos and canoes.
Your boating holiday in the Lot region is coming to an end so it is time to start thinking about the return journey to the Nicols base at Cahors.
Holiday reviews from Cahors
Natures finest in the Lot
A boating holiday on the Lot River – what a treat! Highlights were the surrounding unspoilt countryside, the beautiful village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and the castle at Cenevière. Best of all though was the fun of being a crew on board our Nicols Quattro!
Elsie and Michel Boudry