There is a town in the southeastern department of Lot in France called Cahors. It is well-known for its deep, dark Malbec wines, but that will have to be another post. Today we’re going to visit its famous bridge, Pont Valentré. It took 70 years to build Pont Valentré. Construction began in June 1308 and was finally finished in 1378. The lengthy construction phase might just seem like a dry factoid, but it is integral to what makes the bridge special.
Pont Valentré is one of about many Devil's Bridges in Europe.
As the legend goes, the master builder was so frustrated with the slow work that he made a pact with the Devil to help speed its completion. In trade for his help, the Devil could take the first soul that crossed the completed bridge.
When it came time to place the final stones, the master builder told the Devil that he would make good on his pact if the Devil brought him water to mix the last of the mortar. The catch? He had to bring it in a vessel of the builder's choice. The devil agreed.
The master builder chose a sieve. Checkmate!
The Devil was so angry at being defeated by the builder that he broke off a stone from the bridge each night, forcing them to replace it each morning.
When architect Paul Gout restored the bridge in 1879, he put a small devil sculpture on one of the towers as an homage to the legend. You can find it in the upper right corner of this tower.
The bridge is beautiful and is definitely worth a stroll if you are ever in Cahors (which I recommend.)
The devil legend only adds to its allure.