For walkers following the traditional pilgrims’ route along the GR 65 Chemin de Saint-Jacques du-Puy between Figeac and Cahors, two days of walking (or one big day) brings you to the busy market town of Cajarc.
If you have an hour or two free to explore the town, Cajarc will delight you with charming narrow lanes and unexpected pockets of medieval history.
(Published July 2013, updated May 2021)
Call into the Tourist Office and ask for a copy of Cajarc—Discovery of a Heritage, a guided map of the town which will take you on a journey past twenty points of interest, weaving together the history of Cajarc and its connections to other nearby villages.
An extension to the guided walk leads you down to the river. Houses here date from the fourteenth century when a port was established outside the city walls to facilitate commercial trade with other towns along the river and throughout France.
A map of the town drawn in 1382 (unfortunately, no longer available online) bears a striking resemblance to the current map. The Boulevard du Tour de Ville, which today forms a ring road around the town, is shown as a moat that once provided additional protection to the heavily fortified village.
Cajarc successfully withstood attacks by the English during the Hundred Years War, but fell to the Protestants two centuries later during the Wars of Religion. It was during this period that the thirteenth-century church of Saint-Etienne was largely destroyed and all that remains today from the original church is the base of the bell tower.
In the early seventeenth century, the church was rebuilt and the moat filled in with earth. Plane trees, which were planted two hundred years ago, still form a guard of honour along the boulevard.
Despite the battles and destruction Cajarc has endured over the last eight hundred years, it still boasts more than its fair share of picturesque alleys and historic houses—many dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
The oldest building here dates from the twelfth century, although some newer windows show evidence of alterations in the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. Imagine living in a home that has sheltered a succession of families for nine hundred years!
In the 1880s, the arrival of the railway line brought river trade to an end, but the last train left in 1980. At the far end of the platform, a small museum dedicated to the history of the French railway is open from Monday to Saturday in summer (entrance is free).
If your walk brings you to Cajarc in late July, your visit may coincide with Africajarc—a four-day celebration of African music, dance, cinema and theatre. The festival is one of the most popular in France and during this time competition for a hotel room or camping spot can be fierce. Check the website for festival dates and be sure to book early.
Which long-distance walk in France visits Cajarc?
Where is Cajarc, France? Find it on Google maps
Cajarc is located 282 kilometres (177 miles) along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques – a sixteen day walk from the starting point of Le-Puy-en-Velay.
Click through to find my suggested itinerary for all five stages of the GR65 Chemin de Saint-Jacques
If you prefer to set your own agenda, I share the steps I take to plan my itinerary on any long-distance walk (using the Chemin de Stevenson as a case study)
A daily bus service (line 889) from Figeac to Cahors connects Cajarc with other villages in this area. Other stops on the Chemin de Saint-Jacques include Faycelles, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Conduché, Bouziès and Vers.
Tourist Office in Cajarc
You’ll find the Tourist Office at la Chapelle, across the road from La President café. Opening hours are listed here.
A guided map of the town, Les clefs de…Cajarc is available online but the Tourist Office here is one of the best and a visit will reward you with a good selection of information and guided maps of other villages that the GR 65 walking trail passes through.
If you prefer an English version of the map, ask at the Tourist Office for a copy of Cajarc—Discovery of a Heritage.
Accommodation in Cajarc
You’ll find a range of options for lodging in Cajarc, including –
Sylvie de Boussiers
Camping Municipal du Terriol
Where to eat in Cajarc
Despite passing through Cajarc at lunchtime on a Sunday – a time usually reserved for families – several cafés were open and enjoying a brisk trade. Our choice was Le President since we’d just collected our map from the Tourist Office across the road, but they all looked equally enticing.
You’ll also find a boulangerie and supermarket where you can pick up any other essentials you may be running low on.
If you arrive on a Saturday afternoon, your visit will coincide with the weekly fresh food market. Make the most of this opportunity to stock up on fruit and trail mix for tomorrow’s walk into Limogne-en-Quercy.