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Valentré Bridge (Pont Valentré)

Pont Valentré's six Gothic arches extend 138 meters over the Lot River punctuated by three square bridge towers. Originally designed as a fortified crossing, one of two defensive towers survives on the eastern bank. The bridge was classified as a French Historic Monument in 1840 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 as part of the road to Santiago de Compostela.

The bridge's first stone was laid by Master G. de Sabanac, Cahor's Consul, in 1308. Construction work lasted until 1378. The 70 year duration of constructed led Pont Valentré's legend as a Devil's Bridge.

According to the tale, as construction dragged on over the many decades, the devil sought the builder's soul in exchange for his skills in completing the bridge. The builder agreed but on the condition that the devil could have his soul but only when the bridge was finished. The devil agreed and began to build. When it came time to mix the last patch of mortar with water and cement, the builder fooled the devil by sending him to the river sent the devil to the river with only a sieve. Furious, the devil stole a stone from of the central tower and sent his underlings for the stone whenever it was replaced.


The city is most famous for its "Pont Valentré", a 14th-century six-span fortified stone arch bridge with a magnificent pedestrian crossing, and surrounding vineyards that produce dark Malbec wine. Other attractions include the remains of a Roman amphitheater, the Cathedral of St Etienne and five secret gardens hidden by the walls of the old city.

Historic Center

Built by bishop Gerard de Cardaillac in the 11th century, Cahors' Cathedral of Saint-Étienne overs visitors a haunting window into Medieval times.  Located in the city center, the architecture serves as a reminder of the power of Bishops and their role as feudal lords. The Cathedral's façade itself resembles a castle more than a church. Narrow apertures give the impression of arrow slits. Small doors betray the welcome of the vaulted entryway. Only the magnificent rose window surmounted by a bell tower betray the cathedral as a house of worship. Once inside, a door to the right of the choir opens on a Flamboyant Gothic-style cloister with scenes of Mother Mary and life in Cahors, built in 1504 by bishop Anthony of Luzech. To the left is the St. Gaubert Chapel, home to Italian Renaissance paintings and 15th century frescoes of the Last Judgment.


Cahors' winemaking tradition dates all the way back to Roman times when the city's vineyards were renown for producing a "black wine". That tradition survives to this day. Day trips or organized tours to the surrounding vineyards of Cahors provide tourists an opportunity to discover the subtler vintages of this enduring wine.


Cahors is home to many other historical monuments, ranging from a Roman amphitheater and relics of Roman baths to a range of Medieval architecture and hidden gardens. Highlights include Saint-Barthélémy Church (14th century); Maison Henri IV or Hôtel de Roaldès (15th century); Daurade quarter, a barbican that stood in defense of the Barre Gate; tour of the hanged; Palais Duèze; Tower of Pope John XXII; Collège Pélegry; Arc de Diane (a relic of ancient Roman baths); and the Roman Amphitheatre.

Wine tastings and estate tours of the surrounding vineyards are well within a fifteen minute drive. Recommended estates include: Clos Triguedina; Château de Chambert; Château Lamartine; and Château Eugénie

The Capitol

Cahors was built along a U-shaped bend of the Le Lot River. The city’s history dates as far back as Celtic times when it was known as “Divona (fountain) of the Cadurci”, named after Celtic tribe who controlled the territory before the Roman invasion. Remaining statues and monuments stand testament to importance and growth of the city during the Roman Gaul period. Notably, the city’s history includes some notoriety in the late Middle Ages from being named in Dante’s Inferno in the same breath as Sodom for the wicked practice of usury, considered a sin at the time. Despite experiencing decline following the Middle Ages, losing L'université de Cahors in 1751 (founded 1331), Cahors remains the long-standing seat of local governance today.

Early History of Cahors

The early history of Cahors dates to Celtic times when it was known as the “Divona (Fountain) of the Cadurci”, named after the Celtic tribe who controlled the city prior to conquer by Rome in the first century. Roman times left a strong mark on the city evidenced by a rich archeological record of over 50 mosaics, an amphitheater, theater and baths.   

Medieval Times

Despite experiencing a period of decline in the early the Middle Ages, protective walls built in the seventh century restored Cahors to prominence. The city then experienced a golden era from the middle of the twelfth century to the middle of the fourteenth century driven by group of wealthy families engaged in the practice of usury, widely considered a wicked practice at the time. This led to considerable notoriety and Cahors may be found in the same breath as Sodom in Dante's Inferno. 

The Rennaissance

The golden age was followed by a steep decline brought on by the 100 Years War. The capitol lost not only its position as a center of commerce but also as an intellectual hub after losing L'université de Cahors to Toulouse in 1751 (founded 1331). As a result, Renaissance art and architecture largely bypassed Cahors, leaving little trace on the medieval core of the old city.  

Cahors Today

Cahors today is a modern city of 20,000 residents and serves as Le Lot's administrative prefecture. A modern city center with urban housing dated to both the Belle Epoque and post-World War periods offers visitors the ease and convenience of a metropolitan area. Tourism and the surrounding Cahors vineyards represent the core pillars of its modern economy.