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Saint-Cere, Lot

Sitting on the La Bave river, to the east of the Dordogne

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The riverside town of Saint-Céré is a lovely place to base yourself for excursions in the region. The La Bave river winds its way through the centre of the town and its old buildings have been carefully restored, retaining their timber vaulting or Renaissance stonework. 

The cobbled square of Place du Mercadial with its central fountain is one of the town's most attractive. The towers of the ruined Château de Saint-Laurent-les-Tours look down over the town from above. The château was the studio of Jean Lurçat, whose wonderful tapestries are on display both at the château museum and at the Galerie d'Art Le Casino.

History & Culture in Saint-Céré

The origins of the town of Saint-Céré date back to 780 with the martyr Spérie. The original chateau of the region was erected in the 6th-century and known as the Chateau de Sérénus, today this is the Chateau de Saint-Laurent-les-Tours. 

To reduce the damage caused by flooding of the river that ran through Saint-Céré, in 1611 a Dutch engineer was commissioned to divide the river into several channels at the entrance to the city. For the follow three centuries the town was known as 'Petite Venise Lotoise' - Little Venice of the Lot. All these channels were covered over at the end of the last century.

Having suffered through the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion, the town also came through several epidemics of the plague before a period of tranquility beginning in the latter half of the 17th-century. Located at the crossroads of Auvergne, the Causse and the Dordogne, it became an important centre of trade, and this contributed to its development.

The current architecture of the city, with its old streets and medieval houses, still testifies to the economy of the Middle Ages and the rich history of this town.

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History of Dordogne

Sights & Attractions in Saint-Céré

The Jean Lurcat Museum and Workshop is set within the historic Chateau des Tours Saint Laurent. Towering over the town of Saint-Céré the medieval fortress consists of four towers and the renovated mansion that now houses the museum and was, in fact, once the home of the artist.

Another impressive chateau in the vicinity of Saint-Céré is Chateau Montal. Elegantly situated by the Golf du Montal golf course, this chateau was once the hiding place of the Mona Lisa during World War II.

Not far from the town you will also find the Grottes de Presque, a fine example of the kind of subterranean world that is common across this part of France. 

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Attractions in Dordogne

Events in Saint-Céré

One of the most popular events in the area, the Festival de Saint-Céré is a festival of opera, theatre, dance and classical music that is held in Saint-Céré annually over three weeks in July and August. (Programme and booking is not usually available until April each year.)

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How to get to Saint-Céré

Situated to the west of the Dordogne region, in the Lot valley, the town is not far from the tourist hub of Rocamadour and some of the best examples of the subterranean world that are open to the public. Only a 15 minute drive from the Gauffre de Padirac and 10 minutes from the Grottes de Presque. 

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