Welcome to the Tour du Lot—an incredible circuit spanning over 500km around the periphery of the department. This route takes you through GR trails, footpaths, bridleways, country roads, and, of course, some obstacles, and was designed for walking, off-road biking or horseback riding. However, in my opinion, nothing compares to the joys of walking.
Located at the northern end of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the Department of the Lot is a relatively small area, covering just over 5200 km2 (about the size of Powys in Wales). Despite its size, the Lot has a low population density, with approximately 32 people per square kilometer (for comparison, Cumbria has about 75 people per square kilometer). The region boasts a remarkably diverse heritage, featuring distinct landscapes, architectural styles, farming practices, and traditions. This variety can be attributed, in part, to the underlying geology. In the northeast, you’ll find ancient granite rocks bordering the Massif Central. The central part of the department is dominated by a limestone plateau, while the northwest is predominantly limestone with scattered deposits of iron ore. The southwestern area stands out for its bedrock of white chalk.
Not to be overlooked are the three majestic rivers that carve their way through the department: the Dordogne to the north, the Célé in the center, and the Lot to the south. Each river has left its unique mark on the landscape. Adding to the allure are the numerous prehistoric sites, such as the awe-inspiring cave paintings of Pech-Merle, which date back up to 25,000 years. Magnificent castles, 420 monuments and points of interest, including six of the most beautiful villages in France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France), further enrich the region. Dense beech, oak, and chestnut forests, along with the Cahors vineyards stretching over 4200 hectares along the Lot river valley, complete the captivating scenery.
To truly appreciate the diversity of the Lot, there’s nothing like exploring it on foot—hence the creation of the Tour du Lot. The official route for walkers is divided into 14 stages, starting and ending at Laval de Cère in the northeast of the department. With a few exceptions, each stage is meant to be completed over two days, covering an average of 20km per day (with some variation). Participants can choose to stay overnight at a chambre d’hôte, hotel, or campsite, depending on their preferences, availability, and endurance. Our local walking club, CazalRando, embarked on this journey (opting for the hotel option, I should mention) and successfully completed the tour on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.
Below, you’ll find information on each of the 14 stages, and we have shared our photos on this website for you to enjoy. Additionally, I’ve uploaded the GPS tracks to the Openrunner website, where you can view and print maps or download the .gpx file for your GPS device. To make the most of the Openrunner website, I recommend creating an account. There’s a free version available, as well as a paid version offering access to advanced features.
I hope this glimpse into the Tour du Lot and the captivating Lot department inspires you to explore and experience the wonders of this remarkable region.