The small medieval town of Gourdon is situated in one of the richest historical regions in France, offering the largest concentration of prehistoric sites in the world, with cave paintings dating
back 25,000 years and more.
The area also boasts many castles and other historic monuments, testament to its pivotal role in the history of France, from the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War, through to the Wars of Religion and the Second World War.
Gourdon is the capital of La Bouriane, part of the Quercy region, which extends from the Lot valley in the south up as far as the Dordogne river, the historical boundary with the equally ancient Périgord region. Being a hill town, Gourdon commands fantastic views over the Dordogne and the Lot countryside.
With a population of around 5000, Gourdon is a friendly market town: as well as the large weekly Saturday market there are additional markets throughout the summer, selling hand-made crafts and of course local farm produce such as truffles, walnuts, goat’s cheese, foie gras and the famous full-bodied Cahors wine. The town hosts several events throughout the year, from "brocantes" and "vide greniers" (flea markets) to music recitals, exhibitions and medieval re-enactments: the famous “Médiévales de Gourdon” which take place the first week-end of August every year.
In summer there is an open-air heated swimming pool, which includes a children’s pool and free tennis courts. The nearby lake has a playground and it is possible to swim, with lifeguards in the summer and a “buvette” (snack bar). The town also has a two-screen cinema (with some films showing in the original English!).
With the beautiful golden stone of its old buildings and its charming winding medieval streets, interspersed with a series of imaginatively-themed public gardens, it is perhaps not surprising that Gourdon has been declared Un des Plus Beaux Détours de France.
Gourdon is surrounded by spectacular countryside and there are some great walks to do in the immediate area. There is bike hire available in the town and there some excellent cycle routes to
follow. For those who wish to travel further afield and explore the region in more depth, within an hour of Gourdon there is a very large number of places to visit, including medieval towns,
châteaux, bastides, vineyards, prehistoric sites, caves, gardens and museums. Quite simply one of the best places in France to do an intensive French course!