France is one of the most famous countries in the world for bicycle touring and the Dordogne and Lot River region has long been a favored area for local cyclists.
The Lot River Valley is located just north and an easy train ride from the southern French city of Toulouse. Start your bicycle touring in Cahors where the most famous landmark is the Pont Valentre, an ancient bridge. Leaving town along tree lined streets you have some climbing to do but at least the hills are not steep.
Along the Lot River you will see fields of sunflowers, a quiet road carved right through stone mountains and a town built on the side of the mountain. Do spend a night in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie with its cobblestone streets, art galleries and wonderful restaurants.
Many of the menu items in this part of the world feature walnuts and you can expect to be cycling through plantations of them along this journey.
Continue along the Lot River to Figeac stopping to see a few of the castles if you wish and then head north over very hilly terrain to Rocamadour. This town of Rocamadour is also a great place to spend a few nights as this religious center is built on the side of a cliff. Your hotel will back up against the cliff and the restaurant are across the carless street overlooking the valley. You can take day cycling trips to the Gouffre de Parirac caves and the medieval town of Carennac.
Crossing the Dordogne River for the first time take one of the few bicycle paths into the town of Sarlat. The Saturday market of this pedestrian friendly restored town is huge.
You then want to ride north to Montignac, home of the famous prehistoric caves. Nearby La Roque St. Christophe is also worth a stop to walk through the ancient cliff dwellings from the days of the cavemen.
As a cyclist you may wish to also visit the bicycle museum in Cadouin which including many exhibits from the early days of the Tour de France. Continue your bicycle tour along the Dordogne River to Beynac with a French castle high above the town. The English Castelnaud dating from the 100 Years War is also a must see with catapults and great views from its hilltop location. Yes, it is a tough climb up the hill to get there.
Of course because we were on a self-guided tour and were carrying all our gear we needed some excellent cycle panniers, click the link to check out models for touring.
Bicycle touring in the Dordogne and Lot River regions introduces you to the real France with wonderful food, wine and great roads for cycli