Places to stay in the Lot Valley, France
For the many that don't already know it, the Lot Valley is an area surrounding the pretty Lot River, containing some of the best bits of Cantal, Averyron, Lot-et-Garonne and Lozere. The region is ideal for those wanting a holiday in unspoilt and uncrowded French countryside, with good food, markets and a bit of culture thrown into the mix.
The region is also incredibly diverse, allowing you to experience plenty of varied landscapes and activities within just a few days. See Top Five Activities in the Lot Valley for more information about things to do in the area. Accommodation-wise, there is also something for everyone, with particularly good options for young families or couples seeking a romantic and peaceful getaway. Here are some of our favourites...
>> Also see our complete guide (including a map) to Green Holidays in the Lot Valley
Best for relaxing in the mountains: Auberge des Montanges, Pailherols
The Combourieu family are incredibly passionate about what they do, 'My father-in-law's family built these hotels from scratch… everything is local… taste these delicious home made breads… come and try the spa… my wife runs the kitchen… her great grandfather built the chalet with his own bare hands'.
On our tour, love for Pailherols spills out, and it is easy to see why. This tiny mountain village has been brought alive by the warm hospitality of the Combourieu family since 1880. They now run two hotels, two restaurants, a spa and self-catering chalet. The Auberge is the more traditional, chalet-like of the two hotels, and slightly superior in standard whilst the more modern Les Clos des Gentianes has a lighter feel, with rooms suiting families or couples and a variety of budgets. Both hotels have suburb and good value restaurants.
In the village there is also an old wooden chalet that can be hired out for groups of up to 8 people and, despite its Hansel and Gretel exterior, has been modernised to create a social self-catering option. But wherever you chose to stay, the facilities are open to everyone. The spa includes an outdoor and indoor pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna, play area, snooker table, a small gym and even a climbing wall. Treatments based on organic products can be booked at the spa in the village or a new one they are building in the mountains. The village ski lift also makes this a great place to ski from if the region has good snow in the winter.
For more information see Where to stay in Cantal
Best for learning about farm life: La Ferme du Duzou, Saint Cyprien sur Dourdou
La Ferme du Duzou is a working farm run by Jean and his wife, who welcome guests into 12 self-catering chalets dotted around their land. The farm is best known for its educational tours (mostly in French) from harvesting seasonal vegetables to the milking of cows, which provide an excellent glimpse into farm life, available to guests free of charge. Jean has put great care into these tours ensuring that there is something interesting for people of all ages. The little ones get nature scavenger hunts around the farm whilst the adults can marvel at the pasturing of milk from the cows.
We stayed in one of the newer chalets, raised on a small hill above the valley, allowing the outdoor terrace to get plenty of sun. The chalets sleep four and have everything you need for a self-catering holiday, however their size makes them more suited to those looking for comfortable camping than a luxurious holiday home. For those that want it, breakfast can be provided for guests in the common room, which also homes games, a TV and DVDs. Other onsite facilities include a good sized outdoor pool, fishing lake and lots of fields to explore in!
For more information see Where to stay in Averyon
Best for rustic wilderness: Les Dolines de Longviala, La Tieule
After a hearty feast in the once cow shed, now a beautifully converted dining room, we step out into complete darkness. As our eyes adjust we notice that above us is a perfect clear sky, complete with the milky way and shooting stars. An owl screeches and we avert our eyes back to the field, stumbling by moon light until reaching our home for the night; a Mongolian yurt complete with brightly decorated wooden furniture and a huge four poster bed. Les Dolines de Longviala yurt camp is an unexpected find at the back of a small, scrubby hamlet that can only be described as in the middle of nowhere.
The field is home to ten or so yurts, a couple of wooden chalets, a donkey and a small swimming pool. In the distance stretches fields and woodland with not a house or road in site. The converted cow shed houses all the facilities you would expect at a campsite - toilets, showers (cold water only), a small play area and vast dining room. Breakfasts and dinners are plentiful, communal affairs orientated around wholesome food and friendly chit chat. Children love the freedom of living in a field whilst couples enjoy the privacy of their own yurt, which each have a picnic table, fire pit and are well spaced out. Due to the wilderness, I would highly recommend bringing a camping stove and supplies for any self-catering you want to do and having a car is essential for day-time exploring.
For more information see Where to stay in Lozere
Best for romantic luxury: La Roussiere, Saint Clement
La Roussière is a picture postcard 19th Century farmhouse that sits on the edge of a secluded valley and has been lovingly restored by owners Christian and Brigitte. Historical features and modern comforts are blended together creating a luxurious but relaxed atmosphere. Large, squishy sofas are arranged around a vast stone fireplace flanked by book shelves for guests to help themselves to.
Breakfasts are served in the modern kitchen with a traditional stone floor and large, communal table. The rooms are spacious and private, each with an en-suite and ample living space for relaxing after a day of exploring the surrounding hills and mountains. Perched at the end of a mile long driveway, the house sits in a peaceful spot with soft valley views, disturbed only by the gentle sound of cow bells. Christian is a qualified trekking and snow-shoe tour leader so be sure to ask for his advice about the best routes and for information about the local flora and fauna.
For more information see Where to stay in Cantal
>> See our complete guide to Green Holidays in the Lot Valley