Day 7: Cycle Route to Cabrerets and Pech Merle***

This will be your first non-mountainous day. (You won’t be in mountains again until your final day of this itinerary, in the Pyrenees, when you ride up to Roncesvalles.) However plenty of high hills exist on subsequent days to keep you in shape! Given that today’s ride is almost always flat, and if you are a strong rider, your could continue to Cahors in 85 kilometers (50) miles). However, given the two and three star sights on the route to Cahors, I have allocated two days in this itinerary.

Park along the Célé inn Marcilhac

This itinerary follows the historical route along the Célé River, with pastures and farmlands within a wide, limestone-walled valley. Your rate of descent will be less than one meter per kilometer! Many ancient pilgrims followed a different route, as does the GR65, through Carjac, and then over the hills to Cahors.  That route was slightly higher, shadier, and possibly safer, which was and is important if you were/are walking in mid-summer, but it is dull and hilly. Or they followed the Lot River. The distance of all three routes is comparable. The smaller Célé river, however, is more friendly. Moreover, with only a short detour and a reservation, on the Célé route you can visit the cave of Pech Merle*** with 20,000 year-old paintings – its one of the very few prehistoric caves open to the public; and if your energy permits, with another detour you can visit the perched village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie**.

Cabrerets is a haf-way point, close by the Pech Merle cave (hours and directions can be found here, but if a good second choice would be in charming Marcilhac, 8 kilometers before. I do not provide a map for today as, after exiting Figeac, you simply follow along the north side of the Célé.

The very popular small gite of Espagnac is in this building.

Avoid the traffic and commerce along D822 as it leaves town. Rather cross to the south bank of the Célé from Figeac by the westernmost bridge, the Pont du Gua and follow low-traffic D662 west for about 3.7 km. At the crossing of D802 you keep straight onto D19 (while D662 turns left). In 1 km pass by a bridge by over the Céle. In approximately another 1.8 more kilometers on D19, at a curve in the road, you must turn right. (Maps say this is D18 but there is no sign.) In about 700 meters you cross the Célé and reach D41. Turn left. Now simply follow D41 for about 26 km to Marsilhac-sur-Célé (gites ) or 41km to Cabrerets (gites, camping, hotel). Recommended short visits along the way to Cabrerets are: Espagnac-St-Eulalie—church, and priory ruins; and Marcilhac— a pleasing park along the water and ruins of ancient abbey. 

The Marcilhac Abbey

The Grotte Pech Merle (cave)** is north of Cabrerets by about a 2.5 km steep climb. Be sure to make a reservation on line well ahead. It is quite possible that you will be forced to take the tour in French with a booklet in English. The English tours sell out much more rapidly. No problem, what you see in the cave is the most important. In addition to the cave there is a museum of prehistory.

Link to Day 8: To Cahors**