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Anyone with knowledge of Lot / Aveyron region?

KnightOfTheLongTightsKnightOfTheLongTights Posts: 1,415
edited September 2015 in Tour & expedition
Hello, we are planning 7-10 days' touring, setting off from Cahors in early September.
I'd like to head east from there towards Figeac, then south to Villefranche-de-Rouerge to pick up the Aveyron all the way round to St Antonin / Bruniquel and then switch back south-east towards Albi.
Can anyone recommend the Cele route to Figeac over the Lot route via Cajarc - or vice versa?
How bumpy is the Gorges d'Aveyron?
Also, has anyone cycled the upper Lot valley to Mende etc?
Also any other general tips in that area of routes or places to try and take in.
We are pretty flexible as we are not booking much in advance.

Posts

  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,368
    I've done a few tours in that region, taking a very similar route to what you are planning. It's a fantastic area for cycling.

    I would personally take the Cele route from Cahors to Figeac rather than following the Lot as it's just as picturesque but the roads are quieter. I've ridden both the Cele and Lot routes and both are great. St Cirq Lapopie is is the big tourist spot with lots of coaches and the Pech Merle caves are also very popular.

    The Gorges de l'Aveyron are a bit bumpy but don't let that put you off. I've ridden the stretch from Villefranche to Bruniquel and on to Gaillac and Toulouse. Najac is well worth seeing, despite stiff climb out of the gorge to the village, and the stretch between St Antonin and Bruniquel is very scenic.

    It's lovely area for cycle touring. I prefer it to the Dordogne as it's less touristy.

    As for the upper Lot, the area around Conques (lovely old town) and Entraygues and Estaing is great cycling country. Never beenas far down as Mende but the Truyere and Aubrac areas just to the north of Mende are more good quiet cycling spots. Really, you can't go wrong anywhere in this part of France if you like empty roads, pretty villages and attractive scenery.
  • fantastic thanks.
    Figeac to Conques (or vice versa) looks like it should be an easy day's ride?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,368
    fantastic thanks.
    Figeac to Conques (or vice versa) looks like it should be an easy day's ride?

    Yeah, fine for a day ride. Best to avoid the main D840 between Fiegeac and Decazeville. I've driven it in a car and it's busy. I took the D2 via St Jean Mirabel when I cycled it and that's fine. Conques is brilliant if you like picturesque old towns and impressive churches. It's got an excellent tympanum over the main doorway of the church and interesting relics of saints. Plenty of restaurants there for lunch.

    Cars are banned from Conques, apart from locals, but you can cycle into the heart of the old village and lock your bike up in main Square by church.
  • whoofwhoof Posts: 756
    I've ridden the by the Lot river from Villeneuve-sur-Lot east and then heading north. From memory the terrain was lumpy but very quiet. Great place to hire a kayak.

    If you can go a little North Rocamadour is very beautiful.
    http://www.amazingplacesonearth.com/rocamadour-france/

    Best seen either early in the morning or in the evening when the crowds have left. September should be reasonably quiet, we went in June and virtually had the place to ourselves as the sun set. If you are camping there is a site at L'Hospitalet less than 1 km away. The nearby caves at Gouffre de Padirac are also worth a look, again can be best to arrive early.
  • cheers - don't think we can make it as far north as Rocamadour
  • lemuppetlemuppet Posts: 77
    Hi, I live about 10 minutes from Villefranche and apart from the bit up towards Mende know most of the areas you mention pretty well.

    Both the Lot and Célé valleys are lovely and it is really hard to recommend one over the other. The Célé as mentioned is a quieter road and is a bit flatter towards Figeac, but for me the villages of St Cirq Lapopie and Cajarc are really worth visiting so I would go for the Lot route, it does involve a bit of a climb to get over to Figeac, but it is well worth it!

    From Figeac the main road is best avoided, but you can wind your way towards Villefranche via Faycelles which has stunning views over the Lot and then head off for St-Julien d'Empare to find the Vallée de la Diège. This is a beautiful wooded valley that follows a winding stream and takes you down towards Villeneuve, another place well worth a look.

    Villefranche itself has gone downhill a bit in the last few years with lots of shops having closed in the town centre and it has a feeling of being a bit dead. The main square is still great though with the church, arcades and a new fountain that dances to the chimes of the clock, well it does when it works properly!

    As others have mentioned, Najac is well worth a visit and St Antonin should certainly be on the list. There is also Cordes sur Ciel which is back towards Albi, it's a lovely town clinging to a hilltop but it can be a bit touristy.

    Albi is fantastic, the huge brick cathedral is simply stunning and right alongside is the Toulouse Lautrec museum. There's even shops there that have things you might actually want to buy, which is a bit of a rarity down here!

    Hope any of that helps, if you need any more info just ask.

    Tim
  • jrichjrich Posts: 278
    On a side note, the best black pudding I have ever eaten came from a small butchers just off the main square in Villefranche. They did two types in fact, one with onions and one larger with bits and pieces of pig inside. Both absolutely fantastic so I would recommend heading there.
  • Thank you all for the info!
  • Tim - what is Gaillac like?
    We want to stay somewhere and just relax for two or three nights after our tour and before we fly back from Toulous.
    I have targetted Gaillac as it is close enough to Toulouse airport to jump in a cab on our last morning.
  • lemuppetlemuppet Posts: 77
    I don't know Gaillac that well and have only driven through it on my way to Toulouse. It does look nice though and I would imagine it would be a good place to relax for a few days. There's lots of vineyards around to visit if you like that kind of thing and Castelnau de Montmiral to the North is another hilltop village that's well worth a visit. You're still quite a way from Toulouse mind, about 45 minutes or more so your taxi ride might be a bit expensive!
  • I don't know Gaillac that well and have only driven through it on my way to Toulouse. It does look nice though and I would imagine it would be a good place to relax for a few days. There's lots of vineyards around to visit if you like that kind of thing and Castelnau de Montmiral to the North is another hilltop village that's well worth a visit. You're still quite a way from Toulouse mind, about 45 minutes or more so your taxi ride might be a bit expensive!

    OK, yes I suppose so - we also have the option of going back to Toulouse the night before we fly, so if the trip from Gaillac looks too expensive we can do that.
    Sometimes though long taxi journeys can be surprisingly cheap if they do an airport deal.
  • What a splendid trip.
    We didn't go further east than Figeac, took it easy, stayed in a few places for two nights, got down to Albi too.
    Fantastic bit of France, v.friendly, not too touristy, great food & wine.
    Anyone had much exposure to Gaillac reds?
    Recommended.
  • dabberdabber Posts: 1,621
    Glad you enjoyed it and it went well.

    We spend about a third of the year in the Department of the Lot. When I ride from Vers towards Cajarc I often divert from the valley and go over the narrow bridge at Bouzies and take a beautiful (and usually very quiet) road that gradually climbs towards St Cirq Lapopie. It has lovely views over the River Lot. As already said, St Cirq tends to be a bit busy in the main summer holiday period, but not really awful. However, the descent back down into the valley going through the village can be a bit hairy during that period.

    If you are there again I can recommend doing the Velotoise sportive which starts and finishes in Figeac. I've done it the last 2 years and the routes are really good http://www.lavelotoise.fr/traces-parcours-velotoise/

    The parcours the use are all my regular riding routes... plenty of nice climbs out of the valleys (Strava says Cat 3 and 4).

    I'm back there for all of October.
    “You may think that; I couldn’t possibly comment!”

    Wilier Cento Uno SR/Wilier Mortirolo/Specialized Roubaix Comp/Calibre Bossnut
  • Hi, I live about 10 minutes from Villefranche and apart from the bit up towards Mende know most of the areas you mention pretty well.

    Both the Lot and Célé valleys are lovely and it is really hard to recommend one over the other. The Célé as mentioned is a quieter road and is a bit flatter towards Figeac, but for me the villages of St Cirq Lapopie and Cajarc are really worth visiting so I would go for the Lot route, it does involve a bit of a climb to get over to Figeac, but it is well worth it!

    From Figeac the main road is best avoided, but you can wind your way towards Villefranche via Faycelles which has stunning views over the Lot and then head off for St-Julien d'Empare to find the Vallée de la Diège. This is a beautiful wooded valley that follows a winding stream and takes you down towards Villeneuve, another place well worth a look.

    Villefranche itself has gone downhill a bit in the last few years with lots of shops having closed in the town centre and it has a feeling of being a bit dead. The main square is still great though with the church, arcades and a new fountain that dances to the chimes of the clock, well it does when it works properly!

    As others have mentioned, Najac is well worth a visit and St Antonin should certainly be on the list. There is also Cordes sur Ciel which is back towards Albi, it's a lovely town clinging to a hilltop but it can be a bit touristy.

    Albi is fantastic, the huge brick cathedral is simply stunning and right alongside is the Toulouse Lautrec museum. There's even shops there that have things you might actually want to buy, which is a bit of a rarity down here!

    Hope any of that helps, if you need any more info just ask.

    Tim

    Tim, everything you said turned out to be spot on. Loved the Diege run from Figeac to Villefranche - but as you say, shame about V-de-R, it does feel a bit down on its luck - there were several restaurants closed on a Friday evening! And the Saturday market was v sparse as we left.
    Figeac, Albi and Gaillac all feel thriving and quite well-off.
    And I love Toulouse - what a great place to live that would be: close to Atlantic and Med coasts, and the Pyrenees, and the Massif Centrale / Cevennes.
  • Glad you enjoyed it and it went well.

    We spend about a third of the year in the Department of the Lot. When I ride from Vers towards Cajarc I often divert from the valley and go over the narrow bridge at Bouzies and take a beautiful (and usually very quiet) road that gradually climbs towards St Cirq Lapopie. It has lovely views over the River Lot. As already said, St Cirq tends to be a bit busy in the main summer holiday period, but not really awful. However, the descent back down into the valley going through the village can be a bit hairy during that period.

    If you are there again I can recommend doing the Velotoise sportive which starts and finishes in Figeac. I've done it the last 2 years and the routes are really good http://www.lavelotoise.fr/traces-parcours-velotoise/

    The parcours the use are all my regular riding routes... plenty of nice climbs out of the valleys (Strava says Cat 3 and 4).

    I'm back there for all of October.

    Lucky you.
    Thanks for that.
    We did indeed take in StC-le-P - but as a diversion, cos we decided to take the Cele route - so we took the road south of the Lot up to the village and then crossed down back over the river on the road to the east of the village, and rode back to the Cele junction.
    There was a big tour bus and quite a few tourists walking around on the main road, so we actually didn't even bother getting off the bikes and looking at the village - just weren't in the mood.
  • The run from Villefranche to Najac via Montreils (?) was pretty special too - fantastic view from the ridge and then the descent was amazing.
  • dabberdabber Posts: 1,621
    Glad you enjoyed it and it went well.

    We spend about a third of the year in the Department of the Lot. When I ride from Vers towards Cajarc I often divert from the valley and go over the narrow bridge at Bouzies and take a beautiful (and usually very quiet) road that gradually climbs towards St Cirq Lapopie. It has lovely views over the River Lot. As already said, St Cirq tends to be a bit busy in the main summer holiday period, but not really awful. However, the descent back down into the valley going through the village can be a bit hairy during that period.

    If you are there again I can recommend doing the Velotoise sportive which starts and finishes in Figeac. I've done it the last 2 years and the routes are really good http://www.lavelotoise.fr/traces-parcours-velotoise/

    The parcours the use are all my regular riding routes... plenty of nice climbs out of the valleys (Strava says Cat 3 and 4).

    I'm back there for all of October.

    Lucky you.
    Thanks for that.
    We did indeed take in StC-le-P - but as a diversion, cos we decided to take the Cele route - so we took the road south of the Lot up to the village and then crossed down back over the river on the road to the east of the village, and rode back to the Cele junction.
    There was a big tour bus and quite a few tourists walking around on the main road, so we actually didn't even bother getting off the bikes and looking at the village - just weren't in the mood.

    I think this would be part of what you rode??

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qwb7w5CH_Y
    “You may think that; I couldn’t possibly comment!”

    Wilier Cento Uno SR/Wilier Mortirolo/Specialized Roubaix Comp/Calibre Bossnut
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