Bonaguil Castle and the Malbec Wine Route

A Full-Day Excursion to Ruins and Vineyards Along The Lot Valley

Travel off the beaten path

Visit one of the last fortified castles built in France

Explore the original malbec wine region and taste delicious wines

English-speaking, hand-picked, local expert guides

Trip Details


€510 per group (2 to 8 people)


April through October, 2020


9 hours

Trip style:

Private sightseeing wine tour
Minimum 2, maximum 8

Meeting point:

Pick up from your hotel in Sarlat or in a 30 km range around the city


  • Bonaguil Castle guided visit
  • Follow the Malbec wine route of Cahors
  • Visit & wine tasting in a Cahors winery (tasting fees not included)
  • English-speaking driver guide
  • Travel in a recent, comfortable, and fully equipped minivan
  • Bottles of water in the minivan
  • Free WiFi access on board


Entrance fees, tasting fees, meals are not included unless specified

Get Acquainted with the Local Wines and Beautiful Ruins of the Lot Valley

Considered to be a Gem of military architecture, Bonaguil castle, located near the Lot Valley, was the last of the great fortified castles to be built in France. Classified as a National Monument in 1862, it is without a doubt one of the most impressive and evocative castle ruins of France. Bonaguil is a typical medieval castle with three defensive lines, each inner line higher than the one it overlooks. The first line of defense was the outer wall dedicated to grazing fire, second was the main castle and third was the keep. Built on a rocky needle surrounded by abrupt terrain, it is really only accessible from one side. A fortified barbican protected the main entrance of the castle, with a deep dry moat carved into the rock separating it from the main castle. Bonaguil shows us how artillery was incorporated in the defense of a medieval castle. However, with the advancement of more powerful artillery, medieval castles became obsolete. The days of the castle were at an end and the birth of the modern fort had begun. Follow your guide for a private tour of the castle. Only certified guides can conduct such a tour and you will marvel at all the historical and architectural and details your guide will be able to give you on this unique tour.

After the visit, reach the Lot River that is lined with vineyards. This is the original producing area of Malbec! Originally from Cahors, locally known as Cot or Auxerrois, Malbec is the dominant grape variety of Cahors wines. It is supplemented by up to 30% Merlot and Tannat – another local grape variety. As a reflection of the character of the Malbec variety, Cahors wines can be rather tannic when young, and benefit from aging. There are 4,400 hectares (10,000 acres) of Cahors vineyards. The designation AOC Cahors may only be used for red wines even though there is also some white and rosé wine produced in the same area but it falls under the designation Vin de Pays du Lot instead (Country Wines).

Ideal climate conditions, Oceanic but under a strong influence from the Mediterranean, the climate that can be found around the Cahors vineyard is characterized by less rain fall than in Bordeaux. In the autumn, the Autan wind blows a dry hot air coming from the south that provides perfect maturity to the berries whilst the Lot River is a natural thermal regulator. The terraces of the Lot are divided into three distinct areas composed of alluviums that originated from the Central Mountain range. The more one rises, the more the soils are drained. The terraces adjacent to the river produce subtle and fruity wines. The mid terraces give much more ample type wines. The higher terraces as well as the Grèzes areas, composed of limestone blocs originating from the Causse plateau, are the ones that give the richer type Cahors that are fit for being laid down. Above 300 meters altitude, on the limestone plateau that is less fertile than the terraces and where the influence of the River is less effective, the wines produced there are less full bodied but of great finesse.
At the end of the tour, return to Sarlat.

Good to Know

  • Tour is operated in English, other languages on request
  • This tour is not wheelchair accessible
  • Prices are per minivan (not per person)
  • Our standard cancellation policy applies to this tour

The Ophorus Difference

Contagious Enthusiasm – ‘We had the most terrific guide! Very knowledgeable and enthusiastic’ – Virginia B. (Delaware, US)

Flexibility – ‘The guides really took an interest in what WE wanted to do’  Paul C. (UK)

Area Locals – ‘He was so much more than a driver. He really added local color and local flavor.’ Daniel W. (Georgia, US)

Read more about the Ophorus experience.

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