Saint Cirq Lapopie
The most beautiful village in France
History & beauty
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.
On the trail of history
The south west of France has a great deal to offer in terms of history, from The Albigeois Cathare Crusades during the 13th century, the 100 years’ War in the 14th and 15th century right up to The Second World war – there are some interesting sites to be seen from all periods of history in the region.
There are numerouse hilltop, fortified villages and bastides from these periods in a relatively small area – definitely enough to fill a good 3-week tour.
Just down the road from Saint Cirq Lapopie is the “Défilé des anglais” one of the many caves or “fortified hollows”, built from the 11th century along the Lot and the Célé. Accessible only with ladders, they served as a refuge for villagers at different times, and was fortified during the Hundred Years’ War.
What to see and do
There are trips on the river that can be booked in season, or kayaks can be rented to meander down the Lot river, which gives one of the best views of some of the tourist spots along the way.
There are a number of cafés and restaurants in Saint Cirq Lapopie to just relax and take in the views and atmosphere of this beautiful, historic village.
Have a look at this video we made in Saint Cirq Lapopie
Saint Cirq Lapopie is about 120 km from Toulouse, 26 km from Cahors and 290km from Bordeaux – most of the road from Bordeaux and Toulouse is done by the fast autoroute.
There are many places to discover on the way too.
Food & drink
The south west of France has a very rich food culture and the Lot département is well-known for the local delicacies.
Foie gras is made here, and truffles are found in the region, with a huge truffle market around Christmas in Lalbenque.
The strong, tannic wines of Cahors go well with the rich cassoulets, lamb and duck of the region, the Lot is also where Malbec wines are found, go a little south and there are the wines of Fronton, nearby is Bergerac and to the north are the vineyards of Bordeaux.
Goat cheeses are popular here, as too are sheep milk cheeses, in summer melons are an abundant source for refreshing starters.
Salads are dressed with walnut oil and sweet tarts are also made from the walnuts of the region. Fields of blue flowers are not uncommon, where saffron is cultivated and added to a delicious dish, “saffron lamb.”
As with most French food, the local delicacies are in tune with the seasons and the proximity to The Dordogne, Toulouse, The Aveyron, Bordeaux and The Gers départements make The Lot a great place to sample some delicious dishes made with local products that are cultivated with pride.
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More photos of Saint Cirq Lapopie