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Cahors
May 1, 2008
Pete's Pics > Cahors
One of the most visited sites in France
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The campsite was a mile or two up the river from the city and provided a pleasant ride to town


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Overall, the cityscape in this part of town blended well with the medieval old town a mile to the south


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May 1st on the river Lot and Mr. Duck appears to e in a spring-like mood


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As we approached the bridge into the city, the edge of the old town could be seen


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Directly across town, on the west side, the river is flowing to the north and is crossed by this unique 14th century fortified bridge


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The Valentre Bridge, symbol of the city, was begun in 1308 and completed a mere seventy years later in 1378. It is open to foot traffic only and draws a lot of visitors to the area


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Many medieval bridges, especially the challenging ones are connected in folk lore to the Devil. When the bridge was restored in 1879, the architect paid whimsical homage to this connection by adding this mischievous figure to one of the towers


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The Devil connection with difficult bridges stems from the notion that the builder must have sold his soul in order to have accomplished such a feat. The Cahors bridge has a well developed story with detailed characters


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Looking back across the river to the to city


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Just north of the bridge is a small weir. The river was flowing vigorously as a result of recent rains


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The view seen by would-be attackers


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Back on the city side, the bridge certainly presents an elegant sight and must have seemed a stunning achievement seven hundred years ago


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Back in the center of town, this bland facade belongs to the Cathedral Saint Etienne (St Stephen) which was begun in the 12th century by bishop Gerard de Cardaillac


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In that period, bishops operated as feudal lords making the fortified church design desirable. The building was finished in the 13th century


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The unusual domes covering the nave are complemented by a cupola over the apse, believed to the largest cupola in Europe. The architectural style reflect the transition period from Romanesque to Gothic


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The character of the nave is dominated by the interior of the two domes


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This dome is decorated with 14th century frescoes, depicting the stoning of St. Stephen in the center and eight prophets, each riding an animal, radiating from there


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The nave is approximately 70 feet wide by 150 feet


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The stained glass windows augment the generally bright interior of the church


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The cupola over the apse is about 100 feet high


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There are numerous distinctive side chapels such as this, as well as three chapels around the apse


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Another small side chapel


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The Hôtel de Roaldès, promoted to tourists as the 15th century Maison Henri IV. In reality, Henri IV did stay in the hotel for one night as Henri de Bourbon, long before he was king. Roaldès was local jurist and a faculty member at the city university. The university was closed in the 18th century, a victim of the city's slow demise


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Lurking around the old town, we came across Saint Ursuline church built in the 11th century. This is another vexing case in which the building is protected, no one wants to provide the wherewithal to renovate it and another church is probably the last thing the community needs


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The other end of Saint Ursuline now butted up to residential and commercial properties. It is a serious puzzle to understand how the excess churches of Europe can be absorbed


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Part of the old town comprising the familiar mixture of authenticity and recent Ministry of Culture rework


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One continuing export of the region is wine bearing the Cahors appellation. This wine is very dark, almost black, and is quite highly prized. It is available in all local bars
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