In common with many of our local villages and towns Cajarc (46160) is scattered with evidence of early human occupation; with stone dolmens, gariottes and cave-dwellings. Then as the centuries rolled by, history tells us that this small town, on the River Lot, was constantly over-run by, for example, the Romans, Visigoths and the Francs. This was all before the English came to have a go! Indeed the 100 Year War saw constant incursions by English troops, who failed to occupy the town (largely due to defensive ditch which surrounded it) but they did manage to destroy the bridge and build their own fortifications overlooking the town.
Throughout the middle-ages famine, occasional floods, disease and continued civil unrest made life in the town very difficult. Then during the wars of religion Cajarc became a Protestant refuge which brought all sorts of extra and fresh challenges.
Prosperity did later arrive with the opening of tanneries, mills and phosphate mines. The river allowed for the transportation of goods and the new trade meant the relaxation of many of the historical economic woes.
Cajarc is a halt on the famous pilgrim route ‘Chemin de St Jacques de Compostelle’. Today’s visitors to the town, whether they are pilgrims arriving on foot or those choosing a more leisurely journey, will find a bustling little place with plenty of shops and places to eat. We recommend the restaurant - L’Allee des Vignes – worth a trip just in its own right!
The centre is typically medieval with narrow streets and passageways opening into small squares and with some very pretty stonework and ancient doorways. Along the river there’s a plan d'eau offering all sorts of water-based sports and activities. A great base for canoeing – with trips available from a number of spots along the river. If you are approaching, by car, from along the River Lot (Cahors direction) then the drive itself is very pretty and takes you past the famous village of St Cirq Lapopie and then the very pretty Château de Cénevières (www.chateau-cenevieres.com).
There are regular, popular events during the year in Cajarc. Perhaps the largest is the annual Africajarc festival which takes place over a long weekend in July each year. This event first took place in 1999 and was one of the first annual festivals of African Culture in France. Nowadays great names in the world of music, writing, film, dance and theatre come, each summer, to Cajarc, to take part. There are film shows, concerts, craft markets and of course a great selection of African foods.
Then there’s the Fête du Safran which this year takes place on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of October (www.safran-du-quercy.com). During this weekend you can visit the growers, find out all about the production method and browse amongst the many products produced using this enigmatic spice. Reason enough to make a trip along the valley and find out a little more about the lovely village of Cajarc.