By Phil Hanlon
Just east of the Dordogne department of Aquitaine, in the north Midi-Pyrenees region, lies the beautiful department of Lot. Typical of most areas within the region, low comprises of sloping valleys, impressive mountains and lush countryside. Its unspoilt, rural beauty offers a plethora of tiny villages and small towns, perfect for the keen explorer and rambler.
Previously known as Quercy in the days before the French Revolution, Lot can now be divided into four; Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest.
Southeast Lot has plenty to offer. Charming villages and market towns give way to Cenevieres castle, beautifully poised over the Lot River. For a more vibrant and effusive feel, stop by in Cahors and get the perfect photo opportunity on the Pont Valentre.
In the southwest of Lot are a lot of pretty villages. Puy l'Eveque, east of Fumel is in my opinion the prettiest, filled with courtyards connected by back-streets and passageways and a beautiful fourteenth Century church.
Northeast Lot offers plenty more quaint little French villages, with a good medieval centre and the beautiful Montal Chateau in Saint-C�r�. The scenery is yet again, remarkable.
Northwest Lot bears more than a passing resemblance to its neighbor the Dordogne in terms of scenery. Chateau de Bonaguil is impressive and definitely worth a look, whilst an exploration by boat of the fantastic caves at Gouffre de Padirac is mandatory! Similarly, the pilgrimage village at Rocamadour is the second most-visited site in the whole of France so it's surely worth dropping by.
On the culinary side of things, Lot triumphed utterly. Boeuf Quercynois, Quercnoise salad, roast loin of pork, roast goose and truffle omelette - the list could go on and on. For dessert, a delicious Tarte aux Noix was required every time! Saffron is used a lot in the local dishes as it was cultivated here since the middle ages and is an absolute delight to the palate. Sweet, juicy strawberries and sumptuous Marmande tomatoes make a refreshing change from the meat-based dishes.
The wine was tremendous - most notably the delicious Cahors Black Wine - 'revered by Tsars, Popes and Princes' apparently! It really is so dark that it's almost black - it's one of the strongest and richest red wines available and has a very lengthy shelf-life, making a fabulous present for those back home, plus one or two for the personal wine rack! This is truly stylish wine - inky, full-bodied and utterly addictive.
The Author writes for Holiday Home Rentals who have a selection of Villas in Lot and Villas in France which can be rented direct from their owners.
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