Discover the Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park, UNESCO Global Geopark since May 1, 2017, by walking or cycling the limestone plateaus covered with dry grasslands or oak forests. Let yourself be carried away to the rhythm of the river by boat or canoe, in the heart of surprising cliffs.
The Causses of the Regional Natural Park
There are three causses (characteristic karstic plateaus) within the Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park. These are the Causses of Gramat, Saint-Chels and Limogne.
These territories are very dry and suitable for sheep farming. There are many caves and underground caverns sculpted by water.
Fauna and flora are very present in the Causse de Limogne, on a wooded territory covered with dry lawns. There is also scams (also called "black diamond" for its value and rarity) in its basements.
You will be able to discover in the causse of Limogne, a rich and varied landscape through different long-distance hiking routes, in particular the Way of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle.
The cause of Limogne
Gateway to the Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park, south of Cahors, cause of Limogne stands out for its uniqueness and originality. Remarkable natural architecture, hiking trails and local products, make this little-known place a unique place to discover and explore.
Causses du Quercy: UNESCO Global Geopark
The local geology has left its mark almost everywhere on the territory, shaping the identity of the Causses du Quercy and hiding real treasures there.
What is a Geopark?
It is a label that is awarded to territories with a remarkable geological heritage.
The action of the Geoparks is divided into 4 parts:
- The identification, protection and preservation of geoheritages.
- Education, training and awareness.
- Cooperation with other geoparks.
The Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park was labeled a UNESCO Global Geopark in May 2017.
Nature and its treasures
Along a walk, discover the resplendent flora of the causse. Depending on the season, you will discover truffle oaks, orchid, common junipers, maples, dogwoods, privet, cherry trees and many others.
In fields of mauve color hide the flowers that produce the famous safran, a marvel of the region that goes well with many dishes. The secrets of this spice with its bewitching aroma can be revealed to you during visits to the farm.
rich in taste, truffle called "black diamond" also makes the reputation of the causse and is present during markets which take place during the winter and summer seasons. In the past, men went in search of it, accompanied by a pig, now replaced by dogs that are more docile to train.
Furthermore, it is also possible to discover phosphate mines or a luxurious vegetation awaits you, in a natural site with many secrets to reveal to you, witnesses of a bygone epic, but present in the details of this natural setting.
A setting suitable for all kinds of activities
In this setting where nature is queen, it is impossible to miss out on all the possible activities: from the most classic to the most original, from the quietest to the most sporty, each member of the family will find something to suit them.
The Causses, reservoirs of biodiversity
The dry lawns of the Causses du Quercy are maintained naturally by sheep and the "lakes" of Saint-Namphaise.
There is a diverse flora with orchids and Mediterranean species such as Pinnate stipe or thatch sandwort. The fauna also very present on the causse will offer you the possibility of seeing a ocellated lizard, loud edicnema (bird also called "phantom of the causse") but also small insects like theAzure wild thyme or the buzzard locust.
Sheltered by the cliffs, birds like the Peregrine Falcon, Great horned owl (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the rock swallow are appearing.
On the causses, aerated woods are formed by downy oaks and Montpellier maples. The slopes of the hills are covered with wooded massifs, places of life of the Short-toed snake eagle, a small eagle that eats snakes and lizards.
The "little people" of the Causses
- The man : for millennia on the Causses, it has always lived with nature, from prehistory to breeders, builders, archaeologists, traders, truffle growers, saffron growers today.
- Caussenard sheep: Sheep emblematic of the landscapes of the Causse, it is recognized by its "dark glasses". It contributes to the maintenance of dry lawns and scattered oak woods. You can taste the meat of his lambs which supplies a large part of the red label sector "farm Quercy lamb".
- The Circaète Jean-le-Blanc: it is a diurnal raptor that hunts and feeds on reptiles in wide open areas. It builds its nest in extensive wild and wooded areas, little frequented by humans.
- The sulfur ascalaph: a colorful insect often related (wrongly) to dragonflies and butterflies, it is also called “Ascalaphe dragonfly”. Classified among the neuroptera, it is a common species on the lawns of the Regional Natural Park. It feeds mainly on small insects such as flies.
- Woodcock ophrys: To reproduce, the Orphys or Orchid reproduces the shape and smell of a female insect. The males therefore court the plant and leave loaded with pollen which they carry to another plant.
- Common juniper (juniperus communis): very common shrub on the dry lawns of our territory, it has persistent needles. Juniper fruits can be used as condiments. Wood is used to make objects and furniture.
The man behind today's heritage
There are many monuments still present on the Causse de Limogne originally created by man. Holders of a meaning, of an identity, today they represent the richness of our heritage.
The Causses du Quercy count many archaeological and paleontological sites, such as the cave decorated with Pech Merle which is one of the most famous in France. The territory is rich in cliffs, cornices and shelters which show the very ancient human life still present in the region. You can also meet many dolmens, tumulus, Celtic oppida or even Gallo-Roman roads and even an aqueduct in Vers.
From more recent times, you will also be able to observe, along your way, washhouses and more particularly "butterfly washhouses", carved crosses, origin of the spiritual heritage, mills and dry stone constructions. The latter, omnipresent on the territory, have low walls, delimiting plots and huts, called gariottes or caselles which served as shelters for tools, provisions of farmers, for domestic animals or even sometimes for men.
Turnkey castles and religious monuments are also part of the richness of our territory, a symbol of the past and of our ancestors, which must be discovered.
A rich rural heritage:
The dry stone walls
Resulting from the stoning of the fields, the low walls materialize the limits of plots, organized in a network. The density of this mesh punctuated with huts still testifies today to the traditional division of land by inheritance as well as the variety of soils and cultures linked to a complex topography.
Casselles and gariotes
These are huts made of dry stones. The gariote is a simple shelter with sometimes a few slabs serving as a seat. The caselles have multiple functions: shelter, shed, pile guard and storeroom, sheepfold, chicken coop, barn or temporary accommodation for servants or agricultural workers.
These are heaps of stones with a neat facing. Some cayrous are multiple with the addition of buttresses corresponding to successive stonings. There are various arrangements: gariotes, lodges in their facings; access ramps at the top, niches or recessed stones protruding outside.
Also called montjoie, a cairn is an artificial pile of stones to mark a particular place. In the Lot, there are many of them, especially on the hiking trails and more particularly on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
Lot washhouses flourished between 1800 and 1950, as in the rest of France. In the Lot, these witnesses of the past are still well preserved. Some washhouses in the Lot even have their own specificity with their stone slab in the shape of a "V", and which respond to the sweet name of "Butterfly washhouses".
In karstic terrain, access to water is always more or less problematic, water is scarce on the surface so wells allowing access to groundwater located in depth proliferate. On the causse, there are wells called "sompes", vast and circular in shape, they are framed by masonry walls.