About The Area

Hauts Du Brel is perfectly situated high in the Lot valley on the edge of the Quercy Blanc. An outstandingly beautiful district of France, named after the heavily wooded oak forests and the white stone that forms the hills and litters the fields. It’s a region steeped in history and dotted with bastide villages and chateaux. The property is also in the centre of the famous AOC Cahors wine district, and therefore surrounded by vineyards.

Lower down the valley you’ll find groves of walnut trees; the area’s other main industry. Despite increasing popularity the Lot is very sparsely populated. There are no large cities, Cahors, the capital, is the largest but is still only about the size of Chichester or Durham – and as historic and beautiful as either!

This is, in short, the perfect place for a relaxing holiday.

Although Hauts Du Brel has it’s own, floodlit, swimming pool, you may wish to explore some of the other watery attractions available locally. The most popular in season is the plan d’eau at Montcuq, about twenty minutes away.

This is a large lake with a sandy beach and plenty of parking. Locals, however, tend to use the much less publicised river beach at Castelfranc, ten minutes away. The river is wide and relatively shallow at this point; there is a large swathe of shaded grass and a small (somewhat pebbly) beach. There’s also a rope-swing that children adore. Naturally children must be supervised here at all times. Castelfranc is a old stone bastide (fortified village) and has an ancient church with a “Clocher Mur” or ringing wall which, when you’ve had enough sunbathing, is well worth a visit.

The nearest village to Hauts du Brel is Albas, three kilometres to the north. An ancient and beautiful cluster of stone houses, clinging somewhat precariously to a crag overlooking the river Lot. It has a church, school, Mairie, boulangerie, a small epicerie and two auberges. It was also the country residence of the bishops of Cahors in the 18th century.

Cenac is a pretty little hamlet, surrounded by vineyards and boasting a lovely church. This village is also part of the view from the terrace.

Then there is Sauzet, three kilometres to the south. A charming, bustling village. The splendid ‘Auberge de la Tour’ in the little 13th century chateau is one of the most popular in the area, and next door to the auberge you will find the best boulangerie in the area. There are two small epiceries here, a post office, school, church and a Mairie. There is also an excellent farm shop.

More extensive shopping facilities are available in Prayssac, fifteen minutes away. This delightful village has a full range of shops restaurants and cafes. Including the Intermarche supermarket, which is open on a Sunday morning. There is also a thriving Friday morning market and another on Sunday mornings in high summer.

Naturally Cahors, twenty five minutes to the east, has the greatest selection of both shopping and dining facilities. There is a huge, colourful market every Wednesday and Saturday morning, two large supermarkets, one at either end of the city, restaurants to suit every taste and pocket and a variety of enticing small shops. There is also a splendid cathedral, several ancient churches, the medieval and world famous ‘Pont de Valentre’ and the ancient city walls to explore. But perhaps the best way to enjoy yourself on a hot summers day in this wonderful city, is to relax outside one of the many cafes that line the central Boulevard De Gambetta, either in the full sun or in the shade of the huge Plane trees, sip your pastis or Perrier menthe and just soak up the atmosphere.

Markets

A visit to a local market can be a real treat, especially if you are shopping for food. You can find the very best quality meat, fish and cheese and the freshest vegetables and fruit, some of which have come in from the fields that morning, often sold to you by locals still in their “bleu de travail”. Remember to be there well before noon if you want to see the best selection.

Monday Puy l’Eveque
Wednesday Cahors and Luzech
Friday Prayssac
Saturday Cahors and Puy l’Eveque
Sunday Montcuq and Prayssac (summer only)

Wines!

Being in the centre of the Cahors wine region provides many opportunities to visit the producers for a “petit degustation” and to buy direct. Many of the good local wines are not readily available in the shops and one particular favourite is only available from a roadside stall next to the vineyard. There are four different vineyards within view of the house and it is always pleasantly satisfying to enjoy a good lunch on the terrace with salad bought from the market that morning, warm bread from the boulangerie in the village and wine from the vineyards below.

Canoeing

Canoes can be hired nearby by the hour for exploring the Lot river at your leisure. Alternatively, you can be transported up river and take your time drifting back downstream with the current.

Bateaux-promenade

In Cahors, boat trips along the river Lot are readily available. These can be combined with a trip on the “Touristique Quercyrail” to make a full day outing, including lunch. One of the available itineraries even includes a visit to a well-known local vineyard with wine tasting. It is also possible to hire motorboats in Cahors for a less strenuous way of exploring the river.

Swimming lakes (Plan d’eau)

Montcuq (20 minutes) has a sandy beach, fishing, swings, picnic area and a snack bar.

Catus (25 minutes) additionally has pedalo and canoe hire, tennis, boules and a restaurant.

Fishing

The river Lot is renowned for its fishing potential, especially for carp and black bass. There are specific sectors allocated for night fishing for carp and many large specimens have been caught. A fishing licence is required, but these are readily obtained and cater for the holiday angler. “La Carte Vacances” allows 15 days of fishing in between June and November. Junior licences are also available. Fishing is also permitted in many of the swimming lakes, usually in a defined area so as not to interfere with bathers and other water sport activities.

Walking

It is no surprise that this part of the Lot is a walker’s paradise. There are so many different terrains, all of them delightful. It’s a splendid feeling to be walking along the edge of a vineyard laden with grapes gently cooking in the sun, turn to walk through a short wood of dense oak and find yourself suddenly on the edge of a steep valley with an ancient stone church on one side and a ruined “gariotte” on the other. It happens all the time. There are hundreds of trails around the area, some of which have great religious significance as Montcuq is on the famed pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostella.

Quad Bikes

Many of the country trails are large enough for a quad bike to navigate and some of the locals use them to get around their land. Quad bikes can be hired locally in Frayssinet-le-Gelat and guided tours through the countryside are also available.

Cycling (VTC) and Mountain Biking (VTT)

Bikes for road or trail can be hired locally, or of course, you can bring your own.

Horse Riding

As a whole, the Lot region has over 1,500 Km of bridleways. The nearest Horse Riding centre is close to Cahors, about 20 minutes away.

Adventure Park

At Pradines (20 minutes) there is an adventure park set in a wooded valley, which allows visitors to climb rope ladders, abseil and cross aerial walkways. Suitable for children of 3 and above it will appeal to all those budding Tarzans.

Parascending, Parachuting, Hang Gliding

For the more adventurous there is a small aerodrome at Lalbenque, South of Cahors (30 minutes) which is the local base for these activities.