6 Day Célé Tour
This is a 5 Night, 6 Day tour in which we spend three days paddling down the Célé river and a day either canoeing on the Lot river or hiking a section of the Way of St. James.
We will explore the little known Célé valley by both canoe and foot and visit its beautiful villages and see its lovely wildflowers & butterflies & dragonflies. We will also visit the cave paintings at Pech Merle.
If you are a group of between 4 and 14 persons then choose your own dates and we will arrange it.
Our usual Tour size is between 4 and 7 guests with 2 guides.
If you are not a group of 4 then tell us your preferred dates and we will reserve that for you and try to rustle up others to make the tour viable.
4 people are required to run a tour. A tour of less than 4 can be run with a surcharge.
Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail
Full minibus support throughout
Transfer to & from Arrival/Departure point
All accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels
All breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
Canoe the deep valley of the Célé river past the pretty villages of Marcilhac, Espignac, Sauliac and Cabrerets
Canoe the Lot river past the cliff village of St. Cirq Lapopie
Visit the cave paintings at Pech Merle
Hike along the route of the Way of St. James
All canoes, paddles & life-vests
The price is €1645 per person.
Groups of more than 14 can be accommodated on special request. A private tour for 1 or 2 persons can be arranged with a surchage.
The tour meets & departs from Cahors Railway station at about midday or at close regional airports by arrangement. Cahors is 5 1/2 hours from Paris by train. Local airports are at Brive and Bergerac.
You will be accompanied on the river by an experienced river guide who will make sure you see all the interesting places along the way. If necessary we can provide top-up/reminder paddling lessons if it's a while since you paddled.
The rivers are easy paddling and suitable for families and less experienced paddlers alike. The emphasis on this trip is to enjoy the rich history and natural history of the region from the unique viewpoint of the river.
We shall enjoy lazy days meandering down the river and take our time to enjoy all that we see along the way and taking the time to visit many of them as we go. We will certainly visit the world famous caves at Pech Merle and see the ancient cave paintings.
Everyday we will stop for a fabulous picnic lunch and in the evenings we will enjoy dinner in small family run restaurants or in the hotels where we are staying.
The Célé is a small winding stream that flows down a steep sided valley into the Lot. On the way it passes through several small and picturesque villages such as Espingnac, Marciilhac, Sauliac and Cabrerets.
Along the same valley a long-distance trail winds its way. Sometimes besides the river but mostly up high along the valley’s edge. This is the GR651 which is a small deviation off the famous GR65 more commonly known as the ‘Way of St. James’ or the ‘Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle’.
In an adjacent valley flows the Lot river with the famous cliff-hanging village of St. Cirq Lapopie.
For those so inclined we will have a pre-breakfast walk and before we start canoeing each day we will have time for another hike. We will explore the trails along the causse above the valley and find dolmens left by ancient man. We will see plenty of colourful butterflies in the meadows and in the season plenty of wildflowers too, including some exotuc orchids, like the Lizard and Bee Orchids.
The river can run quite quickly and we will have to be on our mettle when the turns become narrow. Several flour mills still operate on the river and at these points we will have to negotiate the slides which take us past the small dams. A short portage is also available if you prefer.
The Célé valley is a quiet and largely undiscovered small valley and we shall probably have the river all to ourselves. If it is warm enough we can find some beautiful spots for some wild swimming.
Our evenings will be spent discussing our day over a family style evening meal with plenty of wine to make the conversation flow.
Day 1. Arrival and first meeting.
You will be met at our arranged meeting point by our guides for your transfer to the Célé valley. This is usually Cahors Station for those guests arriving by train from Paris.
Alternatively arrangements can be made for arrivals at regional airports: Brive and Bergerac are possibilities.
We will meet you off the train that arrives at Cahors at midday. The drive to Sauliac takes about 45 minutes. We will stop along the way for a picnic lunch, get to know each other and go over the trip together. It is a short drive from here to our accommodation. If we have time we may take a short afternoon hike.
On our arrival at the Métairie Basse we will be met by our hosts Helen & Richard and If time and the weather allows we will be able to use the swimming-pool and relax before dinner.
Day 2. First paddle on the Célé river.
Today we will paddle the Célé river from St. Eulalie to Marcilhac.
When we pass the village of Espingnac we will stop to visit and look at the ruins and design of the old tower.
Later we will have our lunch on the river-bank around about Brengue.
Before the days paddle we can walk on the limestone causse and visit a Dolmen.
We remain at the Métairie Basse tonight.
Day 3 Continuing down the Célé river
We will continue our paddle from Marcilhac down to Cabrerets. We have two small dams to negotiate today - so we will decide either to run the chute or do a small portage. Otherwise it is a gentle meander downstream.
Before the paddle we can walk a short stretch of the GR651 and make sure we see the ruins of the old abbey in the village itself.
We will stop for our picnic lunch at Sauliac, which is a pleasant stop for a wild swim.
The afternoon begins with several tight turns on the river and then a short drop over a ford. We arrive at Cabrerets under the baleful eye of the ruined Devils Castle (13th Century).
We remain at the Métairie Basse again tonight.
Day 4. A Cave, a Paddle, a Walk
We will walk from our lodgings across the causse and down to the Célé valley at Cabrerets: this takes about an hour, downhill all the way.
We then visit the caves at Pech Merle to see the stunning 25,000 year old paintings.
After this we finish our canoe on the Célé with a short paddle down to Conduche and end the day with an hours river-bank walk to the beautiful cliff-hugging village of St. Cirq Lapopie.
Depending on timings we will have our picnic today at the caves or beside the the Lot river.
Tonight we stay at the Auberge du Sombral in St. Cirq Lapopie unless we have decided on a single centre tour.
Day 5. A Hike or a Canoe on the Lot.
Today we have a choice between several long hikes. Either the GR651 pilgrims trail along the Célé valley, or a walk along the cliffs above the Lot river or perhaps some walks around the forests and cliffs above St. Cirq Lapopie.
We will carry our lunch with us today and find a suitable spot ourselves: usually high on the cliffs overlooking the valley.
Alternatively we can canoe along a section of the Lot river – completely different from the Célé. This wide river has several locks along the way but canoes can take a short chute or a portage. We usually stop for lunch at Cregols and stop somewhere else for a wild-swim.
Tonight we remain in the Auberge du Sombral (unless we ae doing a single centre tour).
Day 6. Time to leave
After a leisurely breakfast we will return to Cahors in time to catch the midday train to Paris.
If time allows we may have time to wander around the town before departure and our farewells.
For the first three nights we are at the Métairie Basse which is situated high above the Cele valley on the Causse above the village of Sauliac. Our hosts Richard and Helen have converted a farmhouse from almost a complete ruin to provide fabulous accommodation in this quiet area.
In the grounds we can look at the market garden and chickens and also use the outdoor swimming-pool which nestles surprisingly in a converted barn
Early morning walkers can enjoy some trails out onto the Causse and visit an ancient Dolmen: a Iron-Age burial site perhaps 8,000 years old. We can also walk the long, but downhill trail, to the village of Cabrerets on the Cele river to begin our third day with a visit to the cave at Pech Merle.
Richard and Helen will provide us with some delicious home-cooked meals featuring regional specialities and using ingredients from their own garden. They will also introduce us to some local Apéritifs such as Vin Noix, a Ratafia or perhaps a Fénelon.
Note: if you have decided on a single centre tour then we stay here all 5 nights.
l’Auberge du Sombral
On the last two nights we stay at the l’Auberge du Sombral in the heart of Saint Cirq Lapopie. This picturesque village perches on the side of the cliff above the Lot river and is looked over by a ruined castle and abbey and surrounded by the remains of a fortified wall with entrance gates at the top and lower ends. The village has a single street from which vehicles are barred (excepting access for locals) and is riddled by a network of tiny cobbled pathways.
Our hotel sits in the main square almost at the top of the village within easy walking distance of the restaurants and small shops. On our first evening here we are able to choose our own restaurant but on our final evening we will all dine together again either in the village itself or close by.
For those that like to walk we have plenty of choices of all lengths and difficulties. The village is surrounded by woods and the top of the Causse can be easily reached to offer superb views over the valley. Other walks take the winding trails down to the river and we can follow the Chemin de Haulage which is the path previously used by the Bargemen and their horses to pull boats along the Lot.