Saturday, 9 April 2016

Les Causses de Quercy

'Causse' is not a word that will often be encountered in UK GCSE French, or indeed 'A' Level French, but any traveller with any lateral view in the departements of Lot, Lot-et-Garonne and Tarn-et-Garonne will undoubtedly notice it on maps.  So rare is it that it is not even included in the online version of Collins English/French dictionary. 

Wikipedia however comes to the rescue - The word came into modern French from the Occitan language, (an ancient language of eastern France, northern Italy and parts of Switzerland). Causse defines an area of level limestone landscape, so a Causse will sit comfortably with the Karst landscapes of the Balkan countries, the Burren in Co Claire, Ireland and parts of the UK such as the Mendip Hills of north Somerset.

Aveyron Gorge
Limestone landscapes by definition include number of features:
Firstly,  deep river gorges - The impressive Aveyron Gorge runs through the area, as well as parts of the Lot to the east of Cahors being very steep sided
Secondly Caves - particularly to the north of the river Lot there are many caves, the most noted being Pech Merle, and a little further to the north the world renowned Caves of Lascaux, inhabited since prehistoric times.
Thirdly, a specific ecosystem adapted to the alkaline limestone soil conditions and the lack of depth to the soul. Cliffs, crags and caves also offer secure nesting for a wide variety of bird and mammal species, but less suitable conditions for human habitation which is usually sparse in such regions, so natural history is often a great feature.

The Causse de Quercy marks the south west point of a group of Causses that make up the Massif Central,and for Halcyon Leisure guests this map shows where the Causses de Quercy Natural Park lies



The main road along the eastern edge of the park is the A20 /E9 from Toulouse and Montauban northwards, and most Halcyon Leisure properties will be within the area covered by this map.

The Causse de Quercy is subdivided into four - from the south northwards - Le Causse de Limogne, then Le Causse de Gramat, and it is these two that make up the Natural Park. The steep sided valley of the river Lot divides the two, and the picturesque town of St Cirq Lapopie is the gateway between them.
Further north in the Lot is Le Causse de Martel, and finally into Corrèze is Le Causse de Corrèze.

Dolmen near Limogne-en-Quercy
The Causse de Limogne in the south is the one most likely to be visited from Halcyon Leisure properties, and visitors should look out for juniper trees and bushes, saffron crocuses growing in field scale operations, and in winter this is an excellent area for truffle hunting.

It is also an area rich in history, with Roman roads crossing it, and numerous prehistoric dolmens throughout. 

As the websites say, wonderful areas to explore by bicycle, on foot and by car or canoe. 

Contesou Fleur (for 3/4 people)
The most suitable properties for exploring this wonderful landscape are 32LEB L'Erabelle which is located just north of Caylus and 38/39/40 Contensou which are within a mile of the Aveyron Gorge near St Antonin Noble Val. Properties in the Montcuq area including 23CDC Clos du Cèdre, 8PDA Pech d'Auzonne and 45/46TLT  La Tuilerie are also within easy reach.
For details of these properties, please see the Halcyon Leisure website

More information on the Causse de Quercy and what you are likely to find can be found on good pages at:

St Cirq La Popie Website

Causses de Quercy website

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