Saint Cirq Lapopie, Lot Valley, France

France's Favourite Village

On our independent walking holiday in France, the Serene Lot Valley Trail, you will have the opportunity to explore the wonderful village of Saint Cirq Lapopie

About 30km upstream of Cahors, the village of St. Cirq Lapopie stands high above the Lot perched on an outcrop of rock. It stands within the regional national park Parc naturel regional des Causses du Quercy.

In 2012 this hamlet of only 217 inhabitants was crowned France's favourite village in a vote by television viewers. It is certainly one of the major beauty spots of the Lot valley.

In the Middle Ages, Saint Cirq Lapopie was the main town of one of the four viscountcies that made up Quercy and was divided between four feudal dynasties, the Lapopies, Gourdons, Cardaillacs and Castelnaus. The village was named after the child martyr Saint Cyr and La Popie, one of the feudal dynasties.

The village was dominated by its fortress made up of a number of castles and towers and its fortified gates have been laid seige to over the centuries. Richard the Lionheart laid siege to Saint Cirq without success in 1199.

During the Hundred Years War the village changed hands often, leading to one hidden entrance being named La Porte des Anglais. Later, the village was to be on the frontline of the 16th century French religious wars between Protestant Huguenots and Roman Catholics.

Below the fortress, the village streets lead down to the fortified gates. Many historic houses have stone or half-timbered fronts going back to the 13th to 16th centuries. The houses are narrow with steep tiled roofs. The gabled houses fronting onto the street are separated by a narrow space to carry away rainwater and waste.

Our self guided walking holiday, Serene Lot Valley Trail, allows time to explore the streets of this beautiful historic village. Many street names echo the crafts that were once so important to Saint Cirq Lapopie such as in the Rue de la Pelissaria (Hide merchants) and the Rue Payrolerie (metalworkers).

Many painters came to live and work in Saint Cirq Lapopie. First the Post-Impressionist Henri Martin, then the Surrealists with the poet Andre Breton, who said he would not want to live anywhere else.

Henri Martin (1882-1943) became attached to the village where he lived several years and it's largely thanks to him that St Cirq Lapopie was visited by many more painters such as Foujita, Komatz and Brangwyn.

Beneath the Saint-Cirq Lapopie cliff there are watermills, weirs, harbours, locks and a towpath. The village was prosperous until the railway was built. Before the Cahors-Figeac railway line opened in 1886, the majority of goods were transported by "gabarres", flat-bottomed cargo boats. They were impossible to sail or row upstream, so they had to be towed: at first by teams of men, later by oxen. This necessitated a towpath, and in the 19th Century one was created by carving it out of the base of the cliffs between St. Cirq and Bouzies. The railway killed off the river trade and factories started to put small producers out of business and the rural exodus began. It languished, neglected, until its medieval heritage was rediscovered in the 20th Century and restoration and renovation were undertaken.

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is situated along the French pilgrimage route, Way of St James (Compostela). Coming from Cabrerets pilgrims would pass through, and then continue to Cahors, visiting St. Stephen's cathedral

High Point Holidays' linear self-guided walking holiday begins in Figeac, a beautiful town with an unsoilt medieval centre and then travels downstream ending in Cahors, home of the Malbec vineyards.

Your independent walking holiday will pass through a number of historic villages such as St-Cirq-Lapopie, Marcilhac sur Cele, centred on its ancient abbey, and Vers, squeezed between huge cliffs and the river Lot. At the village of Cabrerets you'll have the opportunity to visit the famous caves of Pech Merle with important pre-historic cave paintings. You'll finish your walking tour at Cahors, famous for its wines and its 14th century bridge allowing access to the town.

High Point Holidays' Serene Lot Valley Trail is available from mid April to mid October.

st cirq lapopie


st cirq lapopie


lot valley


saint-cirq lapopie