Visit the fabulous city of Cahors and its two thousand year old history. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Etienne, built in the early 12th century, is one of the largest buildings in France with domes resting on pendentives. It is part of the Pilgrim Routes to Santiago de Compostela which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. The cathedral and cloister are open to visitors every day 09.00 – 19.00.
Cahors has the largest building conservation area in France and is the town with the largest number of medieval houses in the South of France. The whole region is brimming over with history !
The famous Pont Valentré in Cahors, the finest bridge in France.
The famous Pont Valentré stands 24m above the River Lot. This magnificent, medieval bridge is full of history and a very popular tourist attraction in summer.
Tucked away beneath the cliffs of Cahors, the Pont Valentré spans the River Lot. It is 138m long and 40m above the water from the top of its towers. The six enormous 16.5m arches with triangular cutwaters provide the bridge with the strength to withstand the test of time and the weather, while three sumptuous square towers with machicolations stand proudly at each end and in the centre, guarding the entrance to the town from the west. The fact that the bridge took 70 years to build inspired the legend that local ‘Cadurciens’ love to recount.
Exasperated by the slow pace of the building work, the foreman made a pact with the Devil. According to the terms of this contract, the Devil promised to use his skills to speed up the building work and, if he carried out all of the foreman’s orders, the foreman would forfeit his soul to the Devil. The bridge was quickly built, the work completed and the contract coming to an end. To save his soul the foreman, who was not at all keen to end his days in hell, asked the Devil to go and collect water for the other workers from the Chartreux spring using a sieve.
The Devil naturally came back empty-handed and the deal was broken. In revenge for having been tricked, the Devil sent a demon each night to loosen the final stone in the central tower (known as the Devil's Tower) to ensure that the bridge was never finished and had to be repaired each day.
During the restoration of the bridge in 1879, the architect Paul Gout inserted a stone bearing the sculpted image of an imp into the central tower. The imp was carved by a certain Calmon, a local sculptor. As a result every time the Devil checks to see that the bridge is still unfinished, he is tricked into thinking that the imp has removed the stone.
The Pont Valentré is a splendid example of Gothic architecture and a colossal pioneering construction for its day. It well deserves its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which it was awarded as part of the Pilgrim Route to Santiago de Compostela in 1998.
The Fontaine des Chartreux
Near the Pont Valentré bridge the Fontaine des Chartreux spring, a Roman archaeological site, provides the town of Cahors with 1 million m³ of water every year. This spring beside the River Lot was a shrine to the goddess Divona. In the Middle Ages it was the site of a water mill which was handed over to Carthusian monks. The spring has provided the town with drinking water since the mid-19th century. Only part of its underground bed has been explored by divers who found almost a thousand Gallo-Roman coins, thrown in as votive offerings.