The Walking Party – private escorted walks since 1996.
HAUT QUERCY ITINERARY
15-21 September, 2019
Prices: 2690 Euros per person, single room supplement: 360 Euros
Distance: 50km approx. Walking: moderate
James Tamlyn moved to his 18thcentury farmhouse in France 15 years ago, enthused by the romance and beauty of the area. James’ love of the flora and fauna and his fascination for the food, wine and local traditions and personal contacts make the week a special experience that you could not enjoy as an individual traveller.
This area of south west France, known as the ‘Quercy’, was given by Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henri d’Anjou in 1152, two years before he became Henry II of England, and its beauty and timelessness has changed little since. Not only that but it is still known today as being the gastronomic heart of France.
Day 1 After meeting up with James and the rest of the group in the morning at Toulouse airport you will be driven for lunch at Albi. This has one of the most beautiful and important cathedrals in France. A papal statement of the thirteenth century. We will visit the cathedral after lunch before driving to St Cirq Lapopie,a beautiful medieval cliff hanging village famed for being one of the prettiest villages of France. This has an outstanding position over the river and is surrounded by iron red and manganese blue cliffs. As we are there off season it is a truly magical experience, especially at night: beautifully floodlit and quiet. You will enjoy four nights at a charming auberge in the centre of the village. Dinner in the village.
Day 2 After breakfast we drive to the small town of Limogne. This is set in the heart of the causse all set about with dry stone walls, oak woods and dolmens. We will walk to Chateau Couanac, a beautiful chateau dating back to the sixteenth century before having lunch in a very popular local auberge nearby.
In the afternoon we will drive to the extra-ordinary sixteenth century chateau Cenevieres for refreshments on the terrace perched above the river and looking across to a pretty hilltop village. This beautiful chateau wasbuilt by the famous Gordon family of Scotland and has been in the same family since they bought it from the former Minister for War to Louis XVI (not a great position to have at the time of the Revolution!). In the afternoon there is an optional walk back to St Cirq Lapopie, or return in the vehicles. Dinner in the village. Walk: 7km with vehicle option
Day 3 We drive to a different river valley from where we walk with donkeys on the ‘Four Bridges’ walk between the cliffs and the river, past lofty poplars and corn fields. Picnic lunch on the banks in an historic village by a ruined abbey. In the afternoon we set off further downstream where the last of the stone bridges spans the babbling brook. Drive back to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel. Walk: 7km + optional 7km
Day 4 We drive back to Chateau Couanac for a walk through the estate and a picnic lunch under the poplar trees and cliffs. A choice of two walks back to St Cirq Lapopie. The short walk will give you time to explorethe village’s artisan shops and pretty streets, while the longer walk offers wonderful views and hills! Dinner in St Cirq Lapopie. Walk: 9km + optional 6km
Day 5 We walk along an ancient tow path, carved into the cliffs alongside the river for the horses which used to pull the heavy barges. This is a famous part of the equally famous Chemin de St Jacques. We then meet up with our vehicle and drive along roads chiselled through the cliffs to the ancient city of Cahors for the hustle and bustle of market day. After enjoying excellent ‘cuisine’ at our favourite restaurant, we drive to the famous medieval masterpiece of the Pont Valentré and into the Quercy Blanc landscape. We will pass through the tiny bastide of Castelfranc before arriving at the welcoming hotel of Bernard and Eva Philippe for your last two nights. This is a charming manor house witha swimming pool and all the bedrooms have en suite bathrooms and are large and comfortable. Walk: 5km
Day 6 After a morning drive to Château Chambert we set off on foot, for stunning views over the valleys of Jurassic limestone. We will pass through vineyards and tiny villages before arriving for a lovely lunch in a café routiere. These cafés show you just how good basic French cuisine is. A plethora of lorry drivers and locals pile in to eat excellent food at midday. Vive la France! After lunch we visit the mighty honey-coloured castle of Bonaguil. Most of it was built in the sixteenth century by Baron Berenger de Roquefeuil and was much admired by T. E. Lawrence. We will then rejoin the vehicle to return to your manor house. Dinner at the manor house. Walk: 9km
Day 7 You leave in the morning for Toulouse airport.
NOTE:This tour starts and ends at Toulouse airport. The itinerary is subject to change according to local conditions. All mileages shown are approximate.