Exciting tour covering the entire length of the river Lot from its source to its confluence with the Garonne and the river Baïse, starting and finishing in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Lyon. The tour is organised by IWI with the Alliance des Rhodaniens in June 2019. See the programme below. This tour is now sold out but may be run again in 2020. Product available to those who have already booked and paid the deposit.
Sunday 2 June
Arrival of the international group in Lyon by early afternoon. Transfer from airport or Lyon Part-Dieu station by tram to Hôtel Berlioz, just south of Lyon Perrache station. Guided tour to Lyon Confluence quarter with its fascinating architecture around a basin opened in 2009 including a boat harbour. Visit to the Museum of Confluences.
Monday 3 June
Visit (by Métro) to the 1899 hydropower plant and enormous locks at Cusset (Upper Rhône), visited by ADR/Canaux de Bretagne group in March 2018. Free time in Old Lyon. Dinner in a traditional bouchon lyonnais in Old Lyon (UNESCO World Heritage site). Second night Hôtel Berlioz, Lyon. Lower chamber of the huge double staircase lock at Cusset, on the Canal de Jonage
Tuesday 4 June
6:45 Departure by coach with the French participants (members of the Alliance des Rhodaniens). Route across the Massif Central via Saint-Flour and the Truyère Gorge. Lunch in a bistrot in Murs-de-Barrez, Visit to Sarrans dam in the company of EDF engineer. Check into the Hôtel La Rivière in Entraygues. Introduction to the Upper River Lot by a local expert (simultaneous interpreting through headsets). Visit to the exceptional Trou de Bozouls on the tributary river Dourdou. 19:00 return to hôtel in Entraygues.
Wednesday 5 June
8:00 Depart from Entraygues. 9:00 Visit to the splendid romanesque abbey at Conques, after a short stop at Pont de Coursavy, which was the ambitious upstream limit of navigation during the 1990s. Depart from Conques to discover the restored length of the navigable river Lot in the Aveyron département: new lock at Marcenac; lock at Boisse-Penchot. Commentary by David Edwards-May, consultant on this project. Capdenac tunnel. Cross the low watershed to the parallel river Célé, very popular with canoeists, and the town of Figeac. Guided visit to the historic town of Figeac. Dinner and night in Hôtel du Pont d’Or. Marcenac lock built in 2010 to extend navigation beyond its historic upstream limit
Thursday 6 June
8:45 Depart for Sain-Cirq-Lapopie with comments en route at Montbrun and Cajarc (formerly navigable tunnels, now hydropower headraces). Cruise on the river Lot (see photo above), passing through the locks at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Ganil. Disembark at Bouziès: return to Saint-Cirq in the coach or walking along the towpath carved in the limestone cliff. Depart Saint-Cirq after lunch (on your own) to see other key sites along the Lot down to Cahors. Evening in Cahors at Hôtel La Chartreuse built on a former lock on the left bank of the river. Ganil lock and the towpath carved into the limestone cliff
Friday 7 June
Visit Luzech and its remarkable meander (the tightest on the river), where establishing a navigable connection is the biggest challenge on the river. See the market square which was built on top of the former canal with its double staircase lock. Puy l’Évêque (for wine-tasting and buffet lunch), Fumel dam, a bottleneck made more expensive by historic industrial pollution (steelworks) and the lowering of the downstream reach for increased hydropower production. Lustrac lock and mill (the most beautiful lock on the river).
Aerial view of the Luzech meander (enlarge for detail)
Visit to Port Lalande, formerly a hire base on the lower River Lot, sadly now underused, then the 13m deep lock built beside the hydropower dam at Villeneuve-sur-Lot. Night in Hôtel des Remparts and Hôtel des Platanes in the centre of Villeneuve.
Saturday 8 June
Brief stop in Clairac on the way to the “Confluence sector”: Lot/Garonne and connection Lot/Baïse (see map here). The Garonne crossing has been closed since the end of 2017 for lack of maintenance funds, while an additional restored lock is to be opened in 2019 at Saint-Vite. Enormous investments on the downstream river Lot over the last 20-25 years are under a serious threat of degradation. Exchange with the association ARCAO (Gilbert Valentin) and other local stakeholders at Nicole lock. Nérac on the Baïse. Agen and its aqueduct. Return to same hotels in Villeneuve Aiguillon lock and mill, with the entrance to the 2.4km long ‘canalet’ in the foreground
Sunday 9 June
8:00 Depart from Villeneuve for the Canal de Lalinde, bypassing rapids on the river Dordogne, and its triple staircase locks at Tuilières. Follow the Dordogne upstream to Limeuil (confluence with the Vézère) then the Vézère to Montignac for lunch, then visit the reconstituted Grotte de Lascaux. Then join the motorway across the Massif Central via Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon. Optional pre-departure night at the same hotel in Lyon. The full price per person, double/twin occupancy, is €1150. Deposit 40% to secure a place on the tour.