Cahors is a lovely medieval village, and capital of the Lot department in south west France. It is an ancient town, the Romans fell under the spell of the location, a city almost entirely surrounded by water and it has pretty much been popular ever since. It is sited on a U shaped bend on the River Lot and is known as presqu’île (almost an island). Cahors is one of the oldest wine producing areas of France and lush vineyards dot the area.
The best known landmark in the city of Cahors is the Valentré Bridge (Pont Valentré). Work commenced on the bridge over the River Lot in 1308 and the famous towers on the bridge were built fortress style so that the locals could attack invaders from above.
The Valentré Bridge took an awesome 70 years to complete and gave rise to a local legend involving a deal with the devil.
It is said that the poor builder who was responsible for the final round of construction was woefully behind on his commitment and so made a pact with the devil. He agreed to trade his soul in return for the bridge’s completion. As the bridge got to the laying of the last stone the builder pulled a cunning trick – he gave the devil a sieve with which to carry water for the final batch of mortar, and of course this couldn’t be done and the last stone was never laid. Another version of the legend says that the builder refused to lay the last stone and thereby saved his soul as technically the bridge was technically never finished.
Several centuries later, restoration work carried out in the 19th century saw a statue of the devil added to one of the three famous towers of the bridge in memory of the unfortunate builder. It was during that century that the city underwent a major overhaul, the town hall, library, courts and theatre were built and more roads added. A museum in a former pumping station close by tells the history of the Valentré bridge.
How to pronounce Cahors: the ‘h’ and the ‘s’ are silent, so it is pronounced Ka’or
Video of Cahors: