Activities in the village of Castelnau-Montratier
Castelnau is a charming, active village with about 2,500 inhabitants. The wide central square abutting the house is flanked by lovely arcades. Basic shopping can be done here.
Our street in Castelnau
Shops in the village
(Opening hours 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed midday from 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.) There are two bakers, a supermarket, a greengrocer, two butchers, a chemist, bookshop-cum-newspaper shop, several banks, doctor’s surgery, schools, library, newly renovated swimming baths with water slide, tennis court and two or three restaurants. Boules in the central square by the arcades. There is a pleasant nine-hole golf course just outside Castlenau at Roucous. Lakes for swimming are 10 kilometers away, there is canoeing and kayaking on the River Lot. There are also excursion boats.
Local walking and cycling trips are arranged on Sundays. Market every Sunday morning in the village square. Check up on other activities at the tourist bureau in the square.
Lake for swimming near Montcuq
Market days in the area
Cahors (Wednesday and Saturday), Caussade (Monday), Montcuq (Sunday). For ‘Brocante’ – brick-a-brack and antiques – check up at the tourist bureau.
Outings and special sights
There is just so much to choose among!
Cahors, the main town in the Lot area, is very old and important. It is beautifully situated on a peninsula in the arms of the River Lot; its finest sight is the Valentré Bridge, an ancient, fortified bridge with three towers.
The Cathedral in Cahors
The Cathedral of St. Etienne is worth visiting, too. There are fine walks along the river and the local market is very interesting. A stroll through the old quarter takes you back to the town’s era of prosperity in the Middle Ages..
If you follow the course of the River Lot, you will experience the varied and entrancing countryside with many villages of architectural interest. There are for example Puy-l’Eveque and Saint Cirq-Lapopie, grandly situated on steep and craggy grey cliffs high up above the river.
River Lot seen from St Cirq-la-Popie
The enthralling dripstone caves of Pêch-Merle are close by. Drive a little farther north and you find fascinating Roc Amadour.
The driveway to the royal castle in Cayx
Wine-growing around Cahors
There are many vineyards in the vicinity. The wines of Cahors are robust, made from the Malbec grape, often complemented with Merlot. Cahors wine is very dark (blackish) and full-bodied. It usually needs maturing in the cellar for a few years before drinking. Quercy is a neighbouring wine-growing district, producing milder wines.
If you travel a little farther north in the Dordogne, you can experience its world-famous cave paintings of bison and mammoths in Lascaux II. This is an incredibly exact copy of the original. If you are in the area, do not miss visiting the medieval towns of Domme and Sarlat.
If you look to the south, then the Gascogne area is at hand. It is famous for its Armagnac brandy – and its cooking. There are two especially charming villages which you should not miss: Saint Antonin-Noble-Val and the artists’ haunt of Cordes sur Ciel. Both are archetypes of authentic French atmosphere: the narrow, twisting streets are redolent of olden times. As yet they have not been fully discovered by tourists and are natural and unpolished. The rolling, green countryside embraces you and also offers wild gorges with racing rivers. Toulouse is a major city 90 kilometers south of Castelnau. It has both modern shopping facilities and charming pink-washed houses.
Another must is the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi.
Still within reach, (200 kilometers) are the Pyrenees for those who enjoy hiking in the heights. The Mediterranean is the same distance away.
For most people, the immediate surroundings of Castelnau are more than sufficient.
There is an abundance of excellent restaurants everywhere to satisfy your culinary tastes.
My book ‘Places to Eat in and around Cahors’ is at your disposal in the house. It can also be purchased at bookshops in Cahors and also ‘Les Trois Filles’ in Montpezat de Quercy.
Here you can read a Danish review of the book: Book review
Have a good holiday – and please leave the house as you found it!