The old town of Cahors
This is the main attraction of Cahors, the old town can be found between the Boulevard Léon Gambetta on the west and the river Lot on the east. Its moat, wall and gates disappeared under the boulevard, but for the rest the original structure of small streets, alleys and courtyards has been well preserved. A program of restoration has been ongoing and some buildings stand out, but much remains a bit raw and to be discovered.
Worth special mention are the Jean XXII tower (5), Chateau de Roi, Maison de la Rue Daurade and the Olivier-de-Magny square. The Saint-Etienne cathedral (6) has a shrine dedicated to St. Perboyre who after 4 years in Macau crossed into China in 1839. Despite his disguise, he was arrested, tortured and put to death on a cross by the Qing authorities in 1840. When visiting the cathedral look-up to admire the round decorated dooms and make sure not to miss the cloister on the right towards the back. Towards the river you find the Hôtel de Roaldès (also know as Maison Henry IV), Maison de Patrimoine, and the Hôtel de ville.
La Villa Cahors Malbec (7)
Although there are plenty of restaurants, bars, terraces and shops where you can buy and sample Cahors wines around town. This visitor information and wine tasting center next to the tourist office invites the visitor to discover all about the wonderful wines of Cahors and their history. Run jointly by the Tourist Office and the Union of Cahors Wine Professionals it offers wine tasting and background information.
Cahors was founded by the Romans, who named it Divona Cadurcorum, at the time occupying most of the peninsula. As in so many places, much of the Roman buildings were 'cannibalized' after the fall of the empire. Today very little dating to roman times is visible; the Arc de Diane (9) stands a bit lost in the modern section of today's town, the ruins of the Roman amphitheater (7) can be found (and visited) in the underground car park next to the tourist office, entrance at the back of the Gambetta statue.
Interesting to note is that construction work in 1953 revealed the fundaments of the thermal baths dating back to the first or second century. This was part of a larger infrastructure including an aqueduct which brought drinking water to the city. Starting from the oppodium of Murcens 18 km north, following a 33 km trajectory including tunnels, arched bridges and in other places hacked in the cliff-sides. Parts of the structure have been excavated and are now protected as historic monuments, none of it is visible inside the city.
The city of Cahors has a clear medieval old town still recognizable today. The wall, moat and gates that ones protected this part have been demolished to make space for the Boulevard Léon Gambetta. A second (or first line of) defense has however been largely preserved. These ramparts run from the river on west to the river on east of the peninsula, that way creating an island protected largely by the river, and the wall. The ramparts date back to the 7th century and were reconstructed and improved upon in the 12th and 14th. On the eastern side the Barbacane and the St.-Jean (or hanging) tower (4) form an interesting cluster of buildings. Enclosed you will find the Closelet des Croisades garden with plants that were brought back from the middle east like the Rose of Damascus, Myrtle, Agapanthus and peach.
The Secret Gardens of Cahors
Explore these 30 little gardens with their evocative names: The Garden of Inebriation, the Little Garden of the Poor Clares, the Garden of the Ladies of Cahors... etc. The Jardin de la Sorcière et du Dragon (the Garden of the Witch and the Dragon) is an enclosed garden with plants connected to sorcery and witchcraft. Get a free map from the tourism office.