The village of Saint Cirq Lapopie is perched, over 300 feet high, on the magnificent limestone cliffs that overlook the valley below along with the majestic River Lot. The village (designated as one of the most beautiful in France) was voted France’s favorite village in 2012, and visitors to this historical gem, will not be left wondering why! There are less than 250 inhabitants and in excess of 400 000 people visit a year – all largely in the summer months, so it can be very busy.
This village is made up of charming, medieval, stone-buildings with brown-tiled roofs dating back to the 13th and 16th centuries. At least 13 of these buildings are listed as ‘historic buildings’. Saint Cirq Lapopie has always attracted artists from around the world for hundreds of years.
Just a few minutes away it is possible to arrange cruises along the river. Trips that reveal some of the unique history behind this area. These include cave dwellings, a warren of caves and steps which have provided escape routes up and down the cliffs during periods of war and strife.
The river also lets you glimpse its historical significance as a commerce generator. There are mills, dams, locks and a towpath, carved by hand (into rock) in the mid-1800s. After the completion of the towpath a local artist carved intricate patterns and objects into the side of the stone. These can still be seen today.
The village’s pattern of development is largely due to the region being divided, in the Middle-Ages, amongst three feudal dynasties (the Lapopies, the Gourdons and the Cardaillacs). This meant that there was a need to each construct ever more fortified homes and castles which dominated the village below.
The small and often steep streets now mainly offers tourist/artistic shops, cafes and restaurants. Historically many crafts were carried out in the village including copper-smithing and wood-turning; the shops preserve the memory of these talents. You may also find the Rignault Museum; a magnificently restored St-Cirqoise house with a wonderful historical atmosphere and a chance to journey back through time.
You can contact the Tourist Office on
All photo credits (unless otherwise stated – The Tourist Office at St Cirq Lapopie)