10: Overnight in the Pope’s House

Today we took the well-deserved opportunity to sleep in. By the time we breakfasted, packed and checked out it was 11:00. Since we had some time to kill before our train to Cahors, we headed to the bend in the river just down the hill and spent an hour and a half relaxing on the shady beach and wading in the cool water.

In the rising heat we rode back up the hill to La Prieuré, picked up our bike bags and rode into town where we grabbed a bite of lunch at a shady outdoor cafe before heading towards the train station. The train was late and we had to wait for 25 minutes in the blazing sun (another 40C/100F+ day!) and then run, pushing fully-packed bikes to reach our car on the other end of the train. The ride itself was none too pleasant - the train was not very well air-conditioned and packed full, so full that I had to perch on the edge of my seat holding onto my bike which was standing in the aisle in front of me.

We reached Cahors late in the afternoon and without much ado (I am so thankful for my cell phone navigation software!) found our way to the hotel, but the front desk was still on lunch break, so we waited at a cafe down the street and I had my daily ice cream and Werner his afternoon beer. The hotel was certainly architecturally interesting on the outside, housed partially in a 13th century tower that had been a home to Pope John XXII. Unfortunately the room didn't quite match up to the charm of its surroundings, but it was clean and the hoteliers were friendly.

Since we only had a few hours to "do" the town we headed out as quickly as possible and started our wander through the old town of Cahors. Our hotel was situated directly adjacent to a Chemin de St. Jacques pilgrim church, so that was the first thing on our agenda. From there we wandered (slowly - it was still really hot) and made our way through the crooked back streets of the old town. We stopped a time or two to enjoy the scenic vistas of the loop in the river Lot and ended up in the cathedral, which is especially striking because of its twin-domed construction. We took our time exploring the cathedral, its cloister and the adjoining garden and then wandered further in search of an appropriate beverage.

This being Cahors, the production center of an AOC-designated wine type, we were drawn by a little wine bar with outdoor seating. We so enjoyed the atmosphere (not to mention the wine!) that we opted to stay for dinner - a tasty combination of salad and tapas. Yum.

After dinner we wandered a bit more and then made our way to the Son et Lumière - basically a slide show with music projected on the sides of the town's trademark bridge (Pont Valentre). This show wasn't as lively as others I've experienced but in my opinion, every trip to France should include at least one Son et Lumière!

*****

It's been a week full of impressions... evening swims in the Vézère, two wonderful lodgings, hot, hot, hot weather - lots of sweating and lots of beverage pauses. Far hillier terrain than I expected and unfortunately not as many bike paths as I had hoped for. Looking forward to week number two, with a different type of touring - one long stretch.

Day 10

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