A refuge in the Lot
At the outermost bounds of the Aveyron, the small town of Cajarc is tied to the memory of the former French president Georges Pompidou. He owned a very nice house in the hills, by Prajoux, called la Bergerie, where he would come and find refuge. Claude and Georges Pompidou’s taste for contemporary art led to the emergence in 1993 of the Centre for Contemporary Art named after them. A must-see to discover the latest international trends in Art.
Cajarc is the Quercy region’s centre for the production of saffron and you can stock up while you are there; especially if you go in October, during the weekend that is dedicated to the precious spice.
20,000 years ago now, the first men chose to settle close to Cabrerets. A highly symbolic prehistoric location, concealing remarkable Palaeolithic wall paintings. www.pechmerle.com
the city of Surrealism
Perched atop a limestone cliff, overhanging the Lot, on the edge of the Célé valley, the medieval city is highly touristic. With its paved alleys, arcades, workshops, fortified houses with wooden gables dating from the thirteenth to sixteenth century, the village was and remains an important destination for artists and craftsmen. A place for creation and inspiration, which the Surrealists frequented, headed by the writer André Breton.
And the vines you’ll ask? They are not far. A notebook dating from 1846 states that “the wines from Saint-Cirq are the finest in the county and suitable for trade”. A small pleasure vineyard with 30 plants lives on at the heart of the village.
Take a walk
The walk through the medieval village starts at the Porte de la Peyrolerie and takes you to the gothic church, the Maison Rignault, which houses the collection of the art enthusiast Joseph Rignault, and the Auberge des Mariniers, which used to be the house of the surrealist writer André Breton before finishing at the Chapelle des Mariniers.
Do book an appointment to view the workshop gallery of painter-engraver Alain Prillard, who takes his inspiration from the Surrealists. Tel.: +33 (0)5 65 30 20 76 www.alainprillard.com
The Auberge du Sombral, boasts quality traditional cuisine prepared exclusively from local South-West produce. Place Sombral. Tel.: +33 (0)5 65 31 26 08
The Haute Serre domaine, belonging to the Vigouroux family. A “Noi”, of high lineage, for a vineyard worked on with respect by four generations of wine makers from the Lot. Bertrand, the son, knows how to “give the vine the time it needs”, and bases the treatment of the vines on sustainable viticulture in order to gain regulatory approval. 60 hectares of AOC approved vines, which produce a fine, tannic, silky wine, including a cuvée prestige Géron-Dadine aged in oak casks and a premier wine, the Lafleur de Haute Serre. www.hauteserre.fr
The table of Haute Serre brings together truffles and wine in a smart, gourmet setting. Open during truffle season from early January to mid-March, the chef Thierry Pszonka hosts Tuesday lunch events, followed by a excursion to the renowned truffle market of Lalbenque. A gourmet and festive experience. Tel.: +33 (0)5 65 20 80 80 www.g-vigouroux.fr
Domaine Haute Serre. The highly contemporary interior architecture of the wine stores is the new showcase for the wines of the Domaine. The vast space, with its reception area, tasting room, shop and restaurant, allows for a combination of wine tourism activities and also hosts contemporary art exhibitions. The abstracts by the painter André Nouyrit, who lives in the Lot, take pride of place there. At the end of October, the “Composites Nights” are musical and visual art evenings open to the public. An elegant and cultural way to discover the Haute Serre’s cahors malbec wine. www.hauteserre.fr
Domaine des Savarines. An Ecocert certified organic wine from sustainable viticulture. Located in the Quercy Blanc, the estate, founded in 1970 by Danièle Biesbrouck, a wine maker, stretches over four hectares and was recently taken over by Eric Treuillé, a native of Cahors, and his English wife. The beautiful but discreet wine store, with its tasting room provides the perfect setting for the rigorous composition of the vintage, a blend made up of 80% malbec and 20% merlot grapes. Tel.: +33 (0)5 65 22 33 67www.domainedessavarines.com
For a stroll in the magnificent Garden of Senses and take the time to browse round the lovely English style second-hand market.