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Today we take you to a small medieval village in the south-west of France called Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, in the Lot. Why talk about such a small village? Because it's stunningly beautiful. And it was voted as France's favorite village in 2012, which says a lot when you consider how many gorgeous villages there are in France! New today: a slide show of Annie's pictures Saint-Cirq-Lapopie after the fold. Enjoy the show!
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is in the department of the Lot in the south-west of France, right along the Lot river. It makes for a lovely day-trip from Toulouse, so that's what Annie did. The architecture in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is very different from what we see in Toulouse even though it's not that far. This area is also called Les Causses du Quercy, les causses meaning limestone cliffs, which also feature scrub forest and live oak. As a matter of fact, another name for live oak is "quercus". This is one area where black truffles love to grow. It's a dry area with little pasture land and most livestock is sheep. Because of all those limestone cliffs, you also find a lot of caves in the area, and prehistorical cave art, which we'll talk about in another episode.
Many English-Speaking Residents
The area around Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has a lot of beautiful medieval villages. There are many English people who live in the area, and also now some Americans. As you drive into the village, you will see wonderful fences made with stacked up rocks. Small narrow roads where you have to drive carefully, it's very rural, short visibility.
The Lot Department is Rural
The biggest city in the Lot department is Cahors and it's small with 22,000 people. Figeac is the other city in the Lot and it's only 13,000 people. So it it definitely a rural area. The Lot also has many small rivers. In the middle ages it was spelled L'Ot in Occitan because it was "the Ot".
Houses have steep roofs with flat tile in a dark red/brown color and is very distinctive and beautiful. There isn't a single modern-looking home in the village because the whole village is a historical monument. You will find modern homes further away from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, but none inside.
Scenic Drive Between Cahors and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is about 30 kilometers from Cahors. Probably the most scenic way to get to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is to go to Cahors first and then you have to take the road that goes along the Lot river and will see other beautiful villages along the way. If you don't go to Cahors first you will approach Saint-Cirq-Lapopie from the top of the village, which is fine but not as scenic.
"Chemin de Halage or Towpath"
The other beautiful small village along the Lot river at the bottom of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is called Bouziès and that's where you go if you want to walk along the "chemin de halage" (towpath in English). It's a foot path that you can take along the river, it's a mile or so, includes a section that's cut into the cliff. In the middle ages the river was used for transportation and flat bottom boats were pulled by horses or men with harnesses all along the Lot river and many other places.
A Bit of History of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was first mentioned about 1000 years ago and it belonged to baron de Cardaillac. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was such a strategic place that it sometimes was ruled by a triumvirate. The triumvirate of Lords in the XII and XII helped the village get very rich because of all their connections. It was a prosperous place for a long time, including the tobacco trade. In the XV and XVI century life moved towards the city and small villages lost of their importance over-time.
Other Things You Can See Nearby