Saint-Cirq Lapopie, France

Saint-Cirq Lapopie, France



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The medieval town of Saint-Cirq Lapopie, with thirteen listed historic buildings, is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Cirq Lapopie is one of the most important sites in the Lot Valley.Chief town of one of three viscounties of Quercy, Saint-Cirq Lapopie was divided among several feudal dynasties in the Middle Ages whose dominant families were the Lapopies, the Gourdons and the Cardaillacs. As a result, several castles and fortified houses were built, each ever stronger, dominating the feudal village.Below the fortress, the village of St Cirq, enclosed by fortified gates, includes many beautiful old houses whose facades of stone or wood were built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. They are characterised by their steep-sloped, flat tile roofs.In the streets, open arcades of shops preserve the memory of craft activities that created the wealth of St. Cirq. Skinners in the rue de la Pelissaria, coppersmiths in rue Peyrolerie and especially wood turners or roubinetaïres, with workshops producing button moulds, bowls, cups and cooper's taps.At the foot of Lapopie, mills, dams, ports, locks and a towpath evoke the glorious age of river commerce.

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Saint Cirq Lapopie

When you arrive, from any direction, you cannot but be taken aback by the beauty of this village, which has been voted as The Most beautiful village in France in a television program, voted by the viewers.

It is beautiful, but there are many more that could compete for this title in the south west of France, that it is a bit like choosing betwenn your favourite children.

The village perches 100 meters above the Lot river, which is the name of this départment (Le Lot), like many départements in France, named after the river that crosses it.

The village is on the pilgrimage path of Saint Jacques de Compostelle, which even if you do not walk along the path all the way to Spain, is a good pointer of some fabulous places to visit in France.

Most of the village dates back to the 13th and 16th century, with warm-coloures stone half-timbered houses enclosing beautiful little winding streets that are just waiting to be explored.

There is a very good museum in Saint Cirq, ‘Le musée Rignault’ which has a small collection inside, but the actual building and garden are perhaps more impressive than the inside, although there are exhibitions of local artists from time-to-time, which is well worth a look.

The village has a very arty feel about it, with boutiques and galleries in the streets, Andre Breton, the founder of the Surrealist movement, was quoted as saying, “I no longer want to be anywhere else.” speaking of Saint Cirq Lapopie, and you may well find that you share this sentiment when visiting this wonderful place.


Saint-Cirq Lapopie, One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France

In 1994 we made our first trip to Saint-Cirq Lapopie, a village I had read about in a travel magazine. The photographs accompanying the article were stunning, and I knew I had to go there. A small village of about 200 residents, located in the Lot Department in southwestern France, St-Cirq is perched high on a limestone cliff, 100 meters above the Lot River. Driving up the winding road, we had glimpses of the cliff top and church steeple, but nothing prepared us for the incredible setting high in the sky.

When we arrived, we were like kids in the candy store wanting to see and savour every site, as we scurried from the rocky château ruins to the church, only to be stopped in our tracks by the mesmerizing views. Hungry after our cursory exploration, we chose the terrace of the casual café-restaurant Lou Bolat, where we could gaze out over the village and valley below. With limited French, our Swedish waitress– with limited English– helped us order.

courtesy of the Lou Bolat restaurant

Because lunch service was ending, Kristina spent extra time with us, answering questions and describing aspects of the village. Her French-speaking boyfriend, chef Pierre, came out to meet us, the Americans. We all seemed to hit it off, and an amicable bond instantly formed.

Wisely, we had reserved a room in the only hotel in the village, the small but charming Auberge du Sombral. Kristina and Pierre invited us to return to the café for a late dinner and to take a digestif with them after dinner service ended. We had lots of laughs that night, using gestures to make up for our lack of language skills. Returning late to our hotel, we found it locked. We had to pound on the front door to wake up Madame to let us in. She ranted at us in French we felt bad and knew she was upset. But we didn’t know it’s customary to take the front door key when returning late in the night.

Mist rising above St Cirq-Lapopie. Photo courtesy of Lou Bolat restaurant

Besides the château-fortress ruins at the highest point in the village, we visited the 15th century fortified church– which is quite imposing from the outside. Both sites offer exquisite views, as do many other places along the cobbled, pedestrian-only streets.

St-Cirq was home to André Breton, leader of the Surrealist movement, who upon discovering the village said he “stopped wanting to go anywhere else”. Many artisans live and work in the village and display their goods in small boutiques or medieval houses, half-timbered or constructed of local stone with beautiful gardens. Musée Rignault is situated in an old mansion and has displays of village artifacts. Not far up the hill is a hike to the tiny Chapelle Sainte-Croix, nestled in the woods. In the opposite direction down the cliff, an old tow path follows the river where flat-bottomed wooden boats, used for transporting merchandise, were pulled by boatsmen in ancient times. This path is now a popular walk with an intricate limestone carving, made by a local artist, along part of the cliff wall.

courtesy of the Rignault Museum, with a great setting in the heart of the village

Over the years we’ve been back to St-Cirq Lapopie numerous times, we’ve had many new experiences and discoveries and have witnessed many changes. Kristina and Pierre now live in nearby Cahors and have a grown daughter. A large paid parking lot has been installed above the village. Are there more colourful flower gardens? More captivating boutiques? More people? It’s easy to understand why tourists are compelled to come here, yet the village still retains its authentic, lived-in appeal. St-Cirq Lapopie is one of les plus beaux villages in France and it’s certainly worth every effort to make it your next destination.

St-Cirq Lapopie, photo by Jo Anne Marquardt St-Cirq Lapopie, photo by Jo Anne Marquardt St-Cirq Lapopie, photo by Jo Anne Marquardt St-Cirq Lapopie, photo by Jo Anne Marquardt


Beautiful old village

Beautiful old village. Worth a visit but be aware that the streets are very steep and you have to park at the bottom! Shops and restaurants are at the top! Panoramic views.

Impossible to describe in words. And probably there is no need. You just absolutely HAVE TO go and visit it! Amazing views, very interesting history.

Visited Saint Cirq Lapopie on the recommendation of one of the guide books and was not disappointed. It is in a fantastic location with plenty of parking from which to walk up to the church. The church is simple inside but well worth the visit nonetheless. The view down the valley is fantastic and the rest of the village is well worth a look too.

I doubt you will find many more picturesque and interesting places to visit in that part of France. One not to be missed.

Since we were in Saint Cirq during night time when there was the yearly festival of the city, the Church was Closed. But anyhow, from the backside of the Church you have a stunning view over the valley

This medieval village is truly lovely. wander through the old gate and walk, with good shoes, it is quite steep, up to the church and marvel at the lovely shops, little alleys and friendly people. the church itself is more a setting for a lovely area. the views of the surrounding Lot Rover valley are spectacular!
Next to the church is a tourism center with plenty of information about the surrounding area. The town square has many restaurants, all are excellent.
there is pay parking at the top of the village.

I don't normally comment on destinations as most speak for themselves in different ways, the church is just another pleasant place to visit, there is nothing of note inside that would make you make a special journey and the outside architecture is pretty standard, the whole thing about Saint Cirq Lapopie is the site, it is stunning and a village that placed elswhere that would be just pretty becomes special, it is the site that is special about this place, we visited in May when few people were about, I dread to think what it is like in the height of the tourist season as it isdifficult to get to and parking is limited.
But if you do go it is the spectacular siting of this village on the edge of a gorge that makes it enjoy it for that, and remember that if you cannot get a parking space at the top site it is a long tough walk for all those who are not teenagers or hikers from the other parking areas.

Hi,
Thanks for your advice,
Please, notice that you have 6 car parks in Saint-Cirq Lapopie (between 2 and 4€), and from mid-july to the end of august, you have a free bus from car parks P2, P3, P4 and P5 untill the village center, if you don't want to walk.


Église de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Dominating the skyline of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is the sixteenth century church dedicated to Saint-Cyr and his mother, Sainte-Julitte. Cyr was the youngest of the Christian martyrs – beaten to death at the age of three to punish his mother after she attacked a Roman magistrate.

L’église Saint-Cyr et Sainte-Julitte

Inside the church, simple white-washed walls and a rainbow of stained glass windows provide a backdrop for artwork by the Sunday School children – signs of a church well-loved and well-used by the local community.

The church was built on the same ground as an earlier roman chapel and still retains some features from that time, including a twelfth-century sculpture and fragments of wall paintings from the thirteenth century.

Sheltering from a rain shower at Café Lou Bolat


Saint Cirq Lapopie,France.

It is in the region Quercy, where tourist from abroad are not coming so often. Probably, the departement (as we say), is one of the most stunning and delighful in south of France. You will find some of the most authentic sites , cities and villages, some of the best cuisine and nothing bling bling, if you ever go to visit the “Lot”.

There are hundreds of wonder in this departement called “Lot”. One of my favorite is the village of Saint Cirq Lapopie.

The medieval town of Saint-Cirq Lapopie, with thirteen listed historic buildings, is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Perched on a cliff three hundred feet above the river Lot, St. Cirq Lapopie is one of the most important sites in the Lot Valley.

Below the fortress, the village of St Cirq, enclosed by fortified gates, includes many beautiful old houses whose facades of stone or wood were built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. They are characterised by their steep-sloped, flat tile roofs.

In the streets, open arcades of shops preserve the memory of craft activities that created the wealth of St. Cirq.

At the foot of Lapopie, mills, dams, ports, locks, evoke the glorious age of river commerce.

Along a walk in the famous medieval village of Saint Cirq Lapopie, climb the stairs to the ruins of the fort and discover one of the best views in the Lot valley where three noble families built their castle in the thirteenth century.

The Fort of St. Cirq Lapopie, overlooking the village, is steeped in history. It was the built at the perfect place to prevent invasion and attack. Oldoric, Viscount of St. Cirq, built the first castle here in the tenth century. From the thirteenth century onwards three noble families shared the Fort while constructing the gradiose chateau we see today in the village. While paying tribute to the Counts of Toulouse and the Kings of France, the families of Lapopie, Gourdon and Cardaillac coexisted within the same castle grounds.

I love Normandy and the Riviera, but that is not the whole of France and I Feel sorry that these with Paris are the only place where most of the tourist go. There is so much more to visit.


3. Visiting Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is located on a cliff, 100 metres above the Lot River. You’ll love taking photographs of this medieval village as you approach it. What stands out as you drive into town is Eglise de Saint Cirq Lapopie, a 16th-century church and historic monument that has a well-maintained interior. It was dedicated to St Cyr who the town is named after.

(a) Significant Honours

It is not only one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (Most Beautiful Villages of France) but it was also voted the Favourite Village Of The French in 2012. Located east of Cahors, it is part of the French Way (Camino Francès) section of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James).

(b) Popular Medieval Village In The Lot Department

The entire village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is classified as a historic monument and therefore the medieval atmosphere of the 14th century is retained and this is what makes Saint-Cirq-Lapopie so special. The well-preserved homes and buildings built on the cliff and throughout the town are connected by narrow and sometimes steep cobblestone paths. Most of the town is pedestrian-only.

In the early 20th century, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie transformed into a popular, busy artist’s colony with writers, poets, and artisans rejuvenating the small village. One of the most famous summer residents was surrealist poet and writer, André Breton.

Today, it’s much quieter (population is only around 200) but you’ll find lots of art galleries, and gift shops with local crafts. Traffic from tourists increases significantly in the summer. It has been said that in some years the numbers rise to about 400,000. I did not stay the night but did stay for lunch.

(c) Nearby Cahors and Pech Merle

If you do stay, you’ll be close to the capital of the Lot department, Cahors and it is certainly worth a visit. Popular attractions in the city include the medieval quarter and the Valentré bridge that was built in the 1300s.

Nearby there is also Pech Merle cave, which is like Font Gaume in the Dordogne as it is one of the few prehistoric caves in France that still has original paintings from over 20,000 years ago and visitors are permitted inside. [Note: photography is not allowed].


Additional information

Saint-Cirq Lapopie is a commune in the Lot region of Occitania, 30 km east of Cahors.

The territory of the locality, vast of about 18 km ², culminates at 389 m of altitude, the village itself overhanging the course of the Lot towards which the walker can descend via a pleasant route. However, from the shore, the climb to the heart of the town requires some effort!

Member of the association of the Most beautiful villages of France, designated "favorite village of the French" on France 2 in 2012, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was inhabited since the Gallo-Roman but develops in the Middle Ages, then belonging to the family of Cardaillac (XIII). The small seigniory enjoys it is true of an ideal location on this spur which dominates the valley, but it is soon divided between different families. This is not without effect during the Hundred Years War and then the Wars of Religion. Castles or strongholds were destroyed at the end of these troubles.

Also on the way to Saint-Jacques, the village was then seat of one of the viscounts of Quercy. Until the early twentieth century, the economy is linked to neighboring forests and vineyards of the Lot, and the locality has many wood turners who manufacture barrel taps. Although there are now only about 200 permanent inhabitants against a thousand in the nineteenth century, the village has retained a certain charm with its medieval houses, its cultural vitality and its magnificent views from the village that seems hooked on the rock. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie where the poet André Breton resided in the summer, and where he declared "cease to desire elsewhere", is an essential step during a stay in the region.


Why Saint Cirq LaPopie, France Is a Must Visit

Saint Cirq LaPopie, France in the Lot Valley hillside charmer may once have been the Lot Valley’s most treasured secret, but I’m not sure that is the case anymore. Given the number of cars that were parked along the road and the tour buses parked at the top of the hill, I think you might say that the secret is out. But, don’t let that stop you. It would be a shame to miss it.

The journey to Saint Cirq LaPopie began as we were returning to Cahors from Grotto Pech Merle. And, as we were driving along a river canyon marveling at the scenery we saw a cute little town on the other side and decided to stop in.

It would be natural for you to think that the lovely village seen from across the river was Saint Cirq LaPopie. But, that would be too easy.

No, that little town was called Bouziés. A village that likes to challenge drivers to a narrow one-lane bridge as the right of passage. Did it scare the willies out of us? Not ashamed to admit that we were a bit nervous, but the setting and the cliff dwellings in the walls along the river bank were worth the trauma.

Chance is a strange and wonderful thing. As we were leaving Bouziés, we spotted a sign that read “St. Cirq Lapopie, 4.5km”.

It was one of those,”What the hell, why not moments…” Hmmm…. How can 4.5 kilometers seem so far? When the road is so narrow that even a tiny Fiat brushes the weeds on the side of the road. When the switchbacks have their own switchbacks. When… Oh, alright, I’m embellishing, but you get the picture.

Finally, we found ourselves trapped between a tour bus and a hard place, and decided to hoof it. Though, in truth, we had no idea where we were hoofing it to.

We were just a couple of lemmings following others off the cliff, or in this case down some rather steep tarmac. Soon, the aggravation, forgotten. What lay at our feet, delightful!


Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Our drive today started in Cahors, taking us through the Caussess du Quercy Natural Regional Park to Rocamadour. The first stop was in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. The weather was a bit dismal with only sporadic rays of sunshine, which was actually okay for what we were about to see.

The quaint village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie by the Lot River

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie By the Lot River

Simultaneous oohs and aahs came right out of us as we neared Saint-Cirq-Lapopie set about 100 meters above the Lot river. The location in the rock was decided in order to control the river traffic and defend the village and you can see why. You have an excellent view up and down the river and to the valley surrounding it.

Artists have flocked here and today it is a major tourist attraction with artisan gift shops and cozy restaurants. We sampled both. As we are traveling just outside the main tourist season we also witnessed the last few touches being made in the village for the summer season.


Watch the video: Cahors - Vallée du Lot - Saint Cirq Lapopie - Pech Merle Grand Site Occitanie