The landscapes of the different limestone plateaux in the Quercy, called « Causses », form a harmonious whole where the whims of nature have been tamed by man’s ingenious constructions preserved to this day.
This delicate eco-system became a protected environment in 1999, the “Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy”
There are three main “Causses” situated within the area comprised between the Lot and Célé rivers and the Limargue region to the north.
- Causse de Gramat
- Causse de Saint Chels
- Causse de Limonge/Lalbenque
The specific aspect of the Causses comes from constant the action of water creating cliffs, depressions, dry valleys and the rugged surface of the lapies, as well as the many caves and chasms : the best known being the Gouffre de Padirac.
There is a mystery in the apparent contrast between the arid surface, and the roar of the rushing water as it disappears underground or reappears, surging up out of the ground.
Over and above the patterns left by nature on this wild land, the elements that best symbolize the Causses are the works left by man
- Painted caves
- Gallo-roman settlements and roads
- Castles clinging to the cliffs, known as “Châteaux des Anglais”
- Phosphate mines
Not forgetting the elements less immediately perceived :
- dry stone walls (one of the most beautiful can be seen along the main road from Figeac to the motorway),
- dry stone huts “cazelles” and “gariottes” used for storage and shelter by the shepherds.
Some of the local flora and fauna common on the Causses :
- “pelouses sèches” - forest clearings used as sheep grazing pastures
- lizards, frogs,
- birds ( falcon, owl, swifts)
Out of the ordinary
Above all, the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy offers the exceptional possibility to observe the night sky. Thanks to the preservation of its environment, from several points in the centre of an area covering thirty square kilometres, due to the lowest level of light pollution in the country, the stars are clearly visible in a pristine sky.
A vision to savour with or without a telescope.
- Saint Namphaise pond
- Assier castle