07/18/21 – Whole Lotta Lot

Day One – Conques to Cabrerets

We promised ourselves to take it easy with the house renovations once Bastille Day had passed in order to enjoy the summer and its activities in our region.
Following the proverb “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”, I “dusted off” a plan conceived a while ago: to cycle along the Lot River that gives the name to our regional department.
On Friday morning, Julie dropped me off at Conques, one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and a stop on the Santiago de Compostela route, in the neighboring Aveyron department. From there I rolled a few kilometers along Dourdou de Conques River towards Lot River and then continued downstream.
First stop was Capdenac Le Haut where Julie and I met for lunch. It is also on the list of The Most Beautiful Villages of France but far less impressive than Conques. Then it was the medieval village of Cajarc, Saint Cirq Lapopie – another one of The Most Beautiful – and finally Cabrerets, where we were supposed to stay overnight but it is a weekend and I could not find any accommodation there. Instead, Julie picked me up and we drove to nearby Calvignac.

Although I cycled for more than a hundred kilometers and had to do a couple of steep climbs to both Capdenac and Saint Cirq Lapopie, I really enjoyed the ride: relatively quiet and mostly flat roads, good weather, amazing scenery, pretty villages, and ice cream with crêpes along the way, what else does one need to feel delighted?

Day one of Tour du Lot in numbers:

105 km – distance cycled
540 — protected monuments and sites in the Lot Department

Day Two – Cabrerets to Puy L’Evêque

With an early visit to the Pech Merle Caverns, lunch with Julie in Saint Cirq Lapopie, and an unsuccessful attempt to cycle the Chemin de Halage, I got on the road only around 2pm. Google said it’s 57 km to Puy L’Evêque so even though the route I took wasn’t as straight as Google’s I was sure I’d make it there by 6pm. There were hardly any places I wanted to visit along the way, so I started quite leisurely.
I reached Cahors, the capital of Malbec (although most people are probably familiar with this wine through Argentinian wineries but it originated here) relatively quick. I opted not to visit the city this time but rather come here without a bike for a proper exploration, so I just skirted around it and crossed onto other side of the Lot over the Pont Valentré.
And here I was in the Cahors wine country with vineyards left and right for many kilometers. At the exit from Cahors a sign said only 29 km to Puy L’Evêque, I was still sure I would make it by 6pm. On this side of the Lot the roads were hillier and by 6pm I was just around Albas with about 20 kilometers to go. At that time I already cycled for over 70 km, so much for Google estimate. I was getting tired and frustrated. By 7:30pm I finally rolled into the village and to our sleepover place. It’s a wagon remodeled into a chambre d’hôtes. It reminded me of old traveling circuses. Quite an appropriate place for me.

Day two of Tour du Lot in numbers:

94 km – distance cycled, way more than Google promised
45 — castles in the Lot Department

Day Three – Puy L’Evêque to Aiguillon

Learning on yesterday’s mistake I didn’t consult Google maps about the distance and time to my destination and set off from Puy L’Evêque at eight in the morning roughly estimating a six-hour ride.
As limestone falaises gave way to gentle hills and the hills stepped away from the river, the ebbs and flows of the Lot smoothed out making the route weave less and become flatter. That came at the price of landscapes being boring; I cycled mostly through the fields of various fruit trees, corn, sunflowers and what not. For the most part the Lot Valley Cycle Route took me on very small rural roads with swats of dedicated bike paths which were mostly deserted on a Sunday.

I arrived in Aiguillon six and a half hours after I left Puy L’Evêque. Although I was mildly exhausted and slightly dehydrated, the ride was peaceful and pleasant, albeit uneventful, almost relaxing but after over a hundred kilometers I could not say so.
The only reason I cycled here – Aiguillon is where the Garonne and Lot Rivers confluence which brought my cycling tour of the Lot Valley to a logical end.

Day three of Tour du Lot in numbers:

108 km – distance cycled
485 km — length of Lot River, meaning I cycle ⅔ of its length