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Lauzerte

From the garden and swimming pool of La Maison Rose you can see the Medieval town of Lauzerte sitting on a nearby hill top a few miles away. The main square has cafes from which you can admire the timber framed houses overhanging the traditional cobbles. Lauzerte has good local shops and a weekly market full of excellent local produce, including melt-in-your-mouth goats cheese. There is a horse riding centre on the outskirts of town.

The Castle of Bonaguil

The castle of Bonaguil was mostly built between 1480 and 1520 by Bérenger de Roquefeuil, a powerful baron from the South of France. Supposedly based on XIIIc foundations, some parts are thought to date back to the XIVc. Today it is a perfect specimen of military architecture at the end of the XVc. It is now considered one of the most significant surviving examples of feudal France. Its isolated position in the midst of the densely forested hinterland of the Haut-Agenais, on the boundaries of Quercy and Périgord, adds to its already considerable charms.

Not far away is the mediaeval town of Cahors with its magnificent architecture and famous bridge. The town has also given its name to a wine growing region which is now producing some of France's most exciting young wines. There are plenty of vineyards where you can taste the wine. Cahors itself has a large weekly market full of the very best regional produce. Moissac also has an excellent twice-weekly market, while Montaigu - de - Quercy, Valence-d'- Agen and Montcuq boast their own. The stalls, crammed with regional specialities like asparagus, artichokes, melons, fruit, duck, goose and wild mushrooms. Markets start early in the morning and continue at full steam till about lunchtime.

The weekly market at Montcuq

For those who prefer a more leisurely life, there are some good restaurants. You will always find a wide variety of excellent French cooking, but try the regional specialities of goats cheese, salami, smoked duck breast, fois gras, duck, and cassoulet.

The French believe in family eating and it is perfectly acceptable to take children to even the best restaurants. If you telephone in advance many will set up a seperate table in a secluded corner and can cater for even the most barbaric tastes - including tomato ketchup.

A list of recommended restaurants will be available in the information pack at La Maison Rose.

Rocamadour

For those who are feeling more adventurous, Rocamadour is not so far away. Even before the 10th century, an ancient oratory dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built against the cliff on the edge of the spectacular Alzou Canyon. Rocamadour is on the route de St Jacques to Santiago di Compestella. The site is stunning and there are many museums and artefacts to admire. At the top of the cliff and behind the village there is one of the best falconry displays in the world with condors and vultures circling above your heads.

The Cloisters and Cathedral door at Moissac

Closer to home you can visit the Grotte de Roland, just outside Montaigu-de-Quercy (which also has a large lake for water sports). This pre-historic cave has some fabulous examples of stalactites and stalagmites. It also boasts the world’s greatest collection of cave bear scratches.

Moissac is only a twenty minute drive from La Maison Rose. The Abbey of St Pierre in the centre of Moissac is one of the best examples of Romanesque archicture in France. The tympanum, overhanging the Southern doorway represents a climax in Romanesque art. Carved circa 1130, it illustrates the fourth chapter of the book of Revelation and represents Christ in majesty, with the symbols of gospels writers, the Tetramorph, around him.

The cloister is remarkable for its age. The dedication stone reads the year when it was erected: AD1100, under the rule of Abbot Ansquitil. No other cloister of this era is as well preserved in the world. The cloisters consist of four, 40 metre long galleries.

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