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Winter in the Lot Valley

The French Lot Valley in winter offers many opportunities and whether you are more of a foody person or like active breaks, you'll find something for you : foie gras, truffles, stockfish for the epicure ; skiing, dog sledging, snow shoeing for the sporty or relaxing spas if you want to indulge yourself.

The Lot Valley in winter still offers many opportunities and whether you are more of a foody person or like active breaks, you’ll find something for you.  Throughout autumn and winter, markets in Lot and Lot-et-Garonne specialise in capon (corn-fattened chicken), duck, goose and "foie gras" liver, ready for the festive season.
These “fat” markets are in Villeneuve sur Lot (Lot et Garonne) every Saturday morning, from October to March or in Cahors (Lot) every Saturday morning, mi-November to end of December. To learn more about foie gras, visit the Foie Gras museum in Lot et Garonne (www.souleilles-foiegras.com)

Meanwhile, the market town of Lalbenque (Lot), headquarters of the French truffle industry, is getting busy. This is where the nationwide price of truffles is set, and where during the winter months there's the largest weekly truffle market in France which attracts both restaurateurs and tourists alike. First Tuesday in December through to mid-March (2pm onwards)

Many hotels and restaurants offer truffle-themed breaks that include cookery classes, menus, and even truffle-hunting expeditions with pigs or dogs. The truffles begin life underground in May or June, growing during the summer months thanks to the heavy showers and maturing at the start of Autumn. They're ready to be unearthed by winter, usually sniffed out with the help of a specially trained dog or a pig thanks to their characteristic perfume.

The favourite winter dish in Aveyron is estofinado or ‘stockfish’, made from dried North Atlantic cod that traditionally arrived by boat to Bordeaux.  Simmered in water and mixed with mashed potatoes, beaten egg and parsley, it was once a staple winter food but today is served in many gastronomic restaurants, especially near Decazeville.

If you’ve room for dessert, try tourtière – layers of wafer thin pastry topped with slice apples soaked in Armagnac, specialty of Lot et Garonne or chestnut dishes in the Chataigneraie (chestnut trees protected area) in Cantal . 

Nordic skiing, downhill skiing, dog-sledding, the Lot Valley in winter offers “alternative living” stays. With more than 500km of signposted slopes, the ski resorts of Le Mas de la Barque, Les Bouviers, Mont Lozère and the Massif de L’Aubrac in Lozere, as well as Saint-Urcize and Pailherols in Cantal, and Laguiole in Aveyron which is particularly good for families offer you the chance to practice your favourite winter sport in exceptionally beautiful and preserved countryside, across wooded expanses or on the crests along the peaks.

And also unique opportunity to meet bisons and wolves in a natural environment :

European Bisons : naturally found in the wild only in the north of Europe, the European Bison has been reintroduced in La Margeride. Here they live in semi-captivity on over 200 hectares. Visits are made mainly by horse-drawn carriage or by sledge in winter. The trip (around 1 hour) allows the discovery of bisons in their natural habitat. An information space reveals the history of their survival since prehistoric times.  http://www.bisoneurope.com

The Wolves of Le Gévaudan  : more than a hundred wolves (from Canada, Siberia, Mongolia or Poland) live in semi-captivity. On the legendary lands of Gévaudan, these wolves have found safe haven in many wooded hectares of space where you can discover them by taking a guided tour of the park.  http://www.loupsdugevaudan. com

Finally why not ending up your trip with a relaxing break :

Come and discover the benefits of rest, relaxation, well-being, of soothing and cocooning in calming surroundings.  Far from the stresses and strains of daily life, the Lot Valley is the dream destination for unwinding and indulging yourself. Countryside spas were born out of the confluence of an exceptionally well-preserved environment and thermal springs whose benefits have always been enjoyed. La Chaldette resort on the high plateaux of Aubrac offers fitness holidays with or without hiking trips, as well as thermal spa treatments.

In Lot et Garonne, a Nordic sauna, oriental hammam, Japanese bath… at Les Thermes de Casteljaloux Take a veritable Aquatic world tour and try out all the sensations from this new spa complex built on the spring sources for just a few hours and more if you really enjoy it.

 

Did you know that the hottest spring in  Europe is at Chaudes-Aigues (Cantal) where the water comes out at 82°. Caleden, the hot spring and thermal therapy Centre has relaxing therapeutic breaks for everyone! 

And at Cransac-Les-Thermes (Aveyron), they offer therapeutic treatment using hot natural gases, drawn from "la Montagne qui brûle" (burning mountain).

Visit the Lot Valley in winter !

 

 

Chestnut festival

Chestnut Festival – 20th and 21st October

Mourjou, Lot Valley 

Every year in October, more than 20,000 visitors come to take a bite of rustic France at the annual Mourjou Chestnut Festival.

In  the heart of the Lot Valley,  between the Lot and the Aveyron, come and discover Mourjou (Cantal) and the chestnut that nourished people of the area for ages.

Symbol of the Châtaigneraie cantalienne (chestnut trees protected area), the chestnut tree was suffering since the 1950s from modernisation. In 1990, a group of young inhabitants from Mourjou decided to create a “Chestnut festival” to revive traditions and promote the area. It was a success from start and now attract more than 20.000 visitors during one week-end.

Half of the 400 inhabitants of Mourjou are taking part in the organisation of this festival which welcome over 80 stallholders from all over the world for food testing,  conferences,  technical demonstrations,  exhibitions, hiking, storytelling, music and dance. 

2 tons of chestnuts grilled and 5.000 liters of cider drank over the week-end in a festive atmosphere. 

 

L'Entente Vallée du Lot is now a member of Inland Waterways International (IWI brings together people and organisations who support the conservation, use, development and proper management of inland waterways worldwide. It aims to raise public awareness of the benefits of using waterways for a wide range of activities, from inland water transport to cruising, towpath walking and other recreational uses, as well as appreciating their architectural and landscape values as heritage. It also promotes restoration, where appropriate, of waterways which have become derelict).

 

 

France Discovered

Thanks to the journalist Terry Marsh, a new app is now available about France : France Discovered and it offers several pages on the Lot Valley and its attractions. Easy to browse and very pleasant. Worth a look!

 

Saint Cirq Lapopie

   One of the jewels of the Lot Valley was voted "Village préféré des Français" (prefered  village of French people) thanks to the huge amount of votes of internet users and tv viewers. Out of 22 selected villages (1 per region), St Cirq Lapopie finished first.

The TV show was on air on the 26th June and gave St Cirq Lapopie and the Lot Valley a nice  highlight before the summer with also reviews in all the national magazines and newspapers.

 

Follow the sheep transhumance Lot - Cantal 3-17 June

      Transhumance mouton   The transhumance of the flocks up to the mountain summer pasture is always a crucial moment for life in the Lot Valley and this year for the first time, it is happening between the départements of Lot and Cantal.

700 sheep will progress from the Lot to the Lioran in Cantal where they will stay until mid-September.

The occasion to discover the area, the diversity of the scenery, the local products and the ancient traditions of local shepherds and farmers.

PR Follow the sheep transhumance

More information on www.transhumance.info

 

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