11: Dance of the Dragonflies

Despite our good intentions, we got started later than we’d hoped. On the way out of Cahors we stopped to take pictures of Pont Valentre and then followed the signage for the Véloroute Valée du Lot. It was nice to be on a real marked bike route - the first few kilometers ran directly along the river and then it took turns running along the curves of the river and cutting through the river-basin farmlands. Because the route runs along a river I had imagined it wouldn't be very hilly. Well, in my opinion it should be called the HILLSIDES of the Lot Trail and not the VALLEY of the Lot trail. Misleading advertising!

Because the heat was so stultifying we took shortcuts on the main roads and shortened our trip by 15km. Sometimes the bike route was on the main road (there was a marked shoulder-area, but it's still not much fun riding up hill in 40/100 degree heat with cars and trucks zooming by) and much of the time on either farm roads or small side roads. We just took our time up the hills and tried to enjoy the beautiful countryside, a vista of vineyards and walnut trees and the Lot looping back and forth.

Shortly after 2:00, about 5km before our destination, we found a wonderful swimming hole on the river (private!) and had a relaxing respite from the heat, swimming, eating our sandwiches and watching the dragonflies dance on the water's surface.

From there it was a short ride into Puy L’Évêque and by 4pm we'd checked into Hotel Henry, then did laundry and set out for a town tour. The town is set on a steep hillside with the river winding around at its feet. The hotel was in the newer part of the town down near the river so there was no place to go but up.

About halfway up the hill we stopped in at the cute little wine museum which told the story of the Cahors wines from the area. In the adjacent rooms there was a display of beautiful photographs showing the vineyards at different times of the year. We both really enjoyed that!

We made our way slowly up to the top of the hill (slow is the speed associated with me and hills, whether on the bike or on foot) where there was a big church and a sweeping vista of the river valley. The view was lovely in the early evening light. On the way back down the hill we stopped on the main street (a very liberal description - it was one lane about 12 feet wide) for a glass of iced tea. The street-side table was so slanted that I thought our glasses would slide off!

We had searched for a place to eat but nothing in the town spoke to us, so we decided to eat at the hotel's courtyard restaurant. The hotel itself was rather funky - definitely 2-star, nothing fancy, but the restaurant seemed to be a meeting place for locals so we figured it would be ok.

We were still considering the menu when the proprietress brought an amuse gueule of vichyssoise - this was so delicious I decided to order a menu, a decision I did not regret. My first course was casoulette de fruits de mer avec St. Jacques (scallops) in saffron sauce. Very tasty! The main course Loup de mer with a buttery sauce served with rice, broiled tomato stuffed with zucchini, and carrot custard. This was followed by a plate of three cheeses from the region (they were good but would have benefited from more time outside the refrigerator) and a grandiose dessert plate.
I drank white wine from Bergerac, Werner (with his entrecote, which he really enjoyed) a red Cahors wine made by the hotelier's brother.

At 10:30 we collapsed into bed and slept like babies.

Day 11

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