Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: The Most Beautiful Village in France?
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.
Tips for Visiting Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France
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 maze 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.
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Thank you for posting this, very interesting. The cave certainly sets it apart from other perched villages.
Beth…. thank you for the wonderful photos of St. Cirq Lapopie. May I disagree with you on two issues? As someone who has visited this village (with family) on three different occasions (and then purchased on old ‘ruin’ in the village to restore), I must say that it is an ideal spot for a vacation of at least a week or two– from the biking and canoeing and hiking, to the many fabulous nearby markets, to the incredible castle and prehistoric caves , let alone all the restaurant and shops and studios right in the village– a week will not seem like enough– and if you are there for only a couple days, you will be depriving yourself of getting to know an unusually spectacular place. Secondly, we’ve been there in April (a week), October (a week) and August (two weeks) over the last couple years– yes, there are lots of visitors– thus there are shops, a great new boulangerie, several fine restaurants, etc. etc., BUT there is no hotel in town, no big hotel anywhere near, and so most of the visitors come for a few hours by bus, arriving on the outskirts of the city mid-morning, wandering the village and having lunch, then leaving in the afternoon– even in August we had quiet breakfasts outside and in the evenings we dragged our chairs out on the street (there is no traffic) to toast the sunset.
Yes, i sound like an advertisement but this is the truth– and I want to make sure folks don’t have any misconceptions about the pleasures they can find in this town and region.
Thanks for starting this conversation. best regards, Charlie
Hi Charles Morgan, We live in Australia and I have been planning a long term stay (3+ months) in St Cirq la Popie and then….. COVID. We have now rescheduled for 2023, I’d love any info on the village and how to get a long term rental in this beautiful place. ANY tips would be most appreciated. Thanks – Rosalind
Wow! This is such a great view. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a must see place with all the beautiful stone buildings that were built way back 13th and 16th centuries. This place is such a paradise. I also like the river cruise which reveals the unique history of the area. I want to explore this kind of place. Thank you for sharing these lovely photos.
What a little gem…so charming and picturesque! Every photo could be a postcard.
That cave outpost is really cool. Is it open to the public? I’d love to look around in there.
No, unfortunately it’s not! I imagine it’s not safe, so they have it boarded up.
That’s too bad. It still looks cool from the outside though. Interesting piece of history.
Well, I certainly hope that I can visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie someday and even though I’ve seen your gorgeous photos, I’m sure that there will still be a big WOW factor! So glad that a small village like this still exists.
That’s incredible and what an amazing spot to stumble upon. I really like the idea of leaving it as a surprise too!
The 14th century cave dwelling is amazing! Talk about firing up the imagination – I want to spend time exploring it. Thank you for the post and wonderful photos.
Isn’t it?! It’s like the fort I never had growing up. I wish they did tours through the cave dwelling, although, I’m sure it’s not exactly safe. 🙂
How many days would you recommend staying?
Hi Beth. I think three days would be a good amount of time to explore the surrounding areas and then move on to other spots in the Lot Valley. I’ll be writing about my road trip through this area in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!