Built at the time of Anglo-French Wars, the Pont Valentré is a rare example of French military architecture from that period and one of the finest fortified medieval bridges still in existence. It stands 24m above the River Lot and can still be crossed, only on foot, to enter the town of Cahors. This magnificent, imposing bridge, steeped in history and legends, is a very popular tourist attraction in summer.
In 1306, the Consuls of Cahors decided to build a bridge in the hamlet of ""Valandre"", on the western part of the Cahors meander. Thr town already had two other bridges : Pont Vieux to the south and Pont Neuf to the east.
The first stone was ceremoniously laid in 1308 by the First Consul, Géraud de Sabanac. Construction took 70 years, giving rise to the legend that the Devil was involved in assisting the architect. In 1345 the floor of the bridge could be crossed, but the three towers were doubtlessly not completed until around 1380, in spite of crises provoked by the Hundred Years’ War.
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. It consists of six main Gothic arches, three 3-storey square towers and two entrance ‘chatelets’. The western one has almost totally disappeared, while the eastern one had its defensive features strengthened by modifications during the 19th century. Each passageway beneath the towers could be closed by two doors and a portcullis. In addition, the entrances to the bridge were protected by embrasures which are no longer there today. The piers of the bridge are strengthened by a sharp triangular cutwater which at the level of the passageway forms a crenelated platform from which permitted flanking fire to protect the floor of the bridge. This has proved to have been sufficiently dissuasive as the bridge has never been attacked.