The town is on a rocky peninsula almost entirely surrounded by a loop of the Lot River. It grew near a sacred spring that still supplies the city with water. At the source of the spring, the Fontaine des Chartreux stands by the side of Pont Valentré (also called Pont du Diable), a bridge with a trio of towers. It’s a magnificent example of medieval defensive design erected between 1308 and 1380 and restored in the 19th century. The pont, the first medieval fortified bridge in France, is the most eye-catching site in Cahors, with crenellated parapets, battlements, and pointed arches.
Dominating the old town, the Cathédrale St-Etienne, 30 rue de la Chantrerie (tel. 05-65-35-27-80), was begun in 1119 and reconstructed between 1285 and 1500. It was the first cathedral in the country to have cupolas, giving it a Romanesque-Byzantine look. One remarkable feature is its sculptured Romanesque north portal, carved around 1135 in the Languedoc style. It’s open daily from 9am to 7pm; in winter the cathedral is closed Sunday mornings. Adjoining the cathedral are the remains of a Gothic cloister from the late 15th century. The admission-free cloister is open during the same hours as the cathedral. The Musée de Cahors Henri-Martin, 792 rue Emile Zola (www.mairie-cahors.fr/musee), is also worth a few hours' browsing with its extensive range of 18th and 19th century art; however, it is closed for renovations until 2019. Some of the contents might be on temporary display during the closure, but it is best to either check at the tourist office or call or email them directly (tel. 05-65-20-88-66; email@example.com).
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