I’m thankful I didn’t have any previous expectations of the cliffside village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. I didn’t Google any photos before I left for the trip, study any guidebooks or sift through any blog posts, which left me completely surprised that a place like this even existed.
It was like a blank canvas that suddenly came to life, to reveal an image more beautiful than I could have even imagined.
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is perched on top of magnificent limestone cliffs, overlooking unspoiled views of the Vallée du Lot (the Lot Valley). It was voted France’s favorite village in 2012, and it’s not hard to understand why.
This village contains gorgeous stone buildings with brown-tiled roofs that date back to the 13th to 16th centuries. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has drawn artists from around the world for hundreds of years. Andre Breton, the founder of the Surrealist movement, said, “I no longer want to be anywhere else,” when he spoke of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
Today, the village has 217 inhabitants and more than 400,000 visitors each year. It didn’t feel overrun with tourists in early May, but you may not get that lucky in the summer months.
A stroll through the village and dinner at the very French, Le Gourmet Quercynois, is a must. Try the Foie Gras appetizer — you will not be disappointed.
Where to Stay in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
If you are staying overnight in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, there is a hotel across the way — overlooking the village — called Hotel Le Saint Cirq. My busy itinerary only allowed me to stay here one night, but I wish I had been able to stay an entire week, lounging by the pool or drinking wine in the garden.
Just a few minutes away from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie lies the small village of Bouzies, where Lot Croisieres offers cruises along the river, revealing some of the unique history behind this area.
This cave dwelling dates back to the 14th century and it was used as a shelter and a watch post by the English. It is composed of a maize of caves and stairs which leads to the top of the cliffs, which
offered the English a safe and secret way to escape from the area.
Along the river, you will find a towpath, which was carved by hand in the mid 1800s. After the towpath was made, a local artist carved intricate seashells, sand dollars and other designs into the walls of the pathway.
I had never visited a village like this previous to my visit to the Lot Valley. Is it the most beautiful village in France? Possibly. It is definitely one of the most beautiful villages I had ever seen, but I still had more of France to explore before I made my final verdict.