I didn’t know anything about Saint-Cirq-Lapopie until I watched a video by a couple of my favourite youtubers – Sasha and Jay. They are a young British couple who make videos about their life and share them on YouTube (link here). Seeing their video “sold” it and I penned it into in my itinerary.

If you are familiar with my Road Trip Diaries, then you know that I love driving and wouldn’t think twice about setting off on a 80 mile journey to take a few photographs. It was a nice and easy drive with hardly anyone else on the road. When I went past Cahors, the road became narrower with plenty of twists and turns on the way up into the mountains.

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Exploring Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, walking to the gateway on the other side of the village. Photo: @marclepenn

It was so “off the beaten track” that I began to question my SatNav again. You see, it has this habit of taking me on the most peculiar roads to my destinations. I was half expecting it to take me through some abandoned woodlands and across a shallow river on the way there, just to cut my journey by half a mile.

Anyway, that didn’t happen and I eventually saw a sign pointing to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. When you reach the outskirts of the village, you have to leave the main road and go through a barrier to get to the car park. It costs €4 for the day and you can use coins, banknotes or a card to pay it on your way out.

My visit to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

There’s a short walk from the car park to the village. It’s downhill and you can’t help but stop and photograph one of The Most Beautiful Villages of France from “above”. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and breathable clothes, especially if you visit in the summer.

You will be burning some serious calories walking up and down the hill in the scorching heat and the blazing sun. Come to think of it, some sunscreen wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

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Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is perched on top of the cliff, overlooking the Lot Valley. Photo: @marclepenn

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is one of The Most Beautiful Villages of France and the minute you set eyes on it, you know why. Impressive medieval buildings perched on and built into the side of limestone cliffs, overlooking the Lot Valley.

My finger was stuck on the shutter button as I was walking down the hill, snapping away everything and anything in my sight. The best thing about taking that street was that it led me to the stone gateway on the other side of the village. The Instagram-famous one and the one I was so keen to photograph.

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Instagram-famous stone gateway at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Photo: @marclepenn

The rest of my visit involved more of the same. I went up the hill on the other side of the square where there was a nice art gallery. I stopped and chatted to the artist who was very nice and talented too. Most of his paintings were quite large canvases with human silhouettes against a clean background. I loved the use of negative space in his artworks and the colour contrast between the main subject and the empty space behind.

If you get too hot, I suggest you go into the church. It is an impressive building and it is very cool, almost cold, inside. Light a candle for a loved one or just sit on one of the chairs and use it as a moment of reflection.

eglise fortifiee de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, 15th century, Roam style church
Église fortifiée de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is an impressive 15th century Roam style church. Photo: @marclepenn

Refused to be served at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

I decided to wait until most of the other visitors had had their lunch before I stopped for a bite to eat. I fancied a big salad and whatever local delicacy was on offer.

One restaurant caught my eye and I wasted no time going in. There was hardly anyone inside and the waitress was busy putting wine glasses on the tables. She did her best to avoid me and you know how good they are at this, especially if they sense that you are after something.

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A typical street with tourists, shops, cafes and restaurants at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Photo: @marclepenn

She must have had a long busy shift or a customer who upset her because she looked a bit cross. That didn’t stop me asking to be seated for lunch though. She refusing to serve me and asked me leave the restaurant!!

Luckily for me, there were many other restaurants which were open. So I walked into the next one which looked like a nice place. The waiter was very polite and sat me at a table for one inside as I didn’t want to be eating under the heat of the blazing sun on the terrace.

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Lunch at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Photo: @marclepenn

I went for the dish he recommended and a bottle of Coke. It was as tasty and as filling as it looks in the picture, despite it being taken on my mobile phone. The portion was big enough for two but light and perfect for lunch on a hot day.

Then I went for another walk and I couldn’t resist having a gelato on my way back to the car 🙂

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Treat yourself to a refreshing gelato as you explore Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Photo: @marclepenn

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is not a big place and you don’t really need maps and comprehensive guides with suggestions about places to visit and things to do. If you insist on it, the Tourist Office is on the main square next to the church. Otherwise, I suggest you take your time to explore the village and enjoy the atmosphere.

Here’s a Google Map of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie for visual reference:

5 COMMENTS

  1. Hi and thanks for this article about Saint-Cirq Lapopie, one on the most beautiful village in France.
    I’m so sorry for this bad experience and it’s so pity to make it as your main memory during your visit.
    The article title is hard for the village and for other good restaurants.
    Please, can you send me by email which restaurant is ?
    Thanks, see you !

  2. I live in this village and appreciate your terrific story. My home is actually in one of your lovely photos. Your reporting in your article of the charms and wonders of St Cirq is terrific. Thank you!!! I confess, I find the title curious and perhaps unfortunate. Clearly something happened that marred the experience for you in the first restaurant. I want to apologize to you on behalf of all my friends and neighbors who live and work there. The meaning you made of the experience was that it was hurtful, and I do not doubt that was your experience. However, often the meaning that we make of what happens has little to do with what the other person said or did. I wondere, were you spoken to in English? That may be the most likely cause of the experience, as the subtlety of something like, “we would love to seat you but are actually closed” may not have come through. They may not have had the language skills to make that clear or whatever else was the problem. I can almost guarantee it was not about you. For that reason, it is important that I write you now. Did you go in before 12 or after 2? Restaurants in France typically do not serve lunch outside these hours. A few do, but show up at 2:10 in many places and you are just out of luck. YOu would not be seated. It is also possible that something in the life of the person you encountered was difficult for them that day. More than one restaurant owner there has lost a child to terrible accidents in the last couple of years. Yet, they have to go to work to live. You would not know from their actions that this experience is the burden which comes to them at unexpected times. So I wanted to write not to defend the actions of anyone and certainly not to call you out, but to hopefully add a bit of relief and a possible perspective that may be helpful for your experience. Truly, you would be welcomed back to the village any time by any of us, residents or restaurants. I hope you will come again!

    • Hi Ann and thanks for your kind comment. You are lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I had a wonderful day and, given the chance, I would go back. It would be interesting to visit in a different season and see the change in the colour palette.

  3. Hi, Marc. If you ever do come back, let me know. I would enjoy meeting you. I live there in the SPring and Fall. It would be fun to have you in for an APero. As you surmise, the colors are spectacular. I actually rent my home out in the summer, and live there in Spring and Fall. I have added several week long master bread baking classes using my ancient wood fired oven when I am there, in case you have that interest.
    It occurred to me that the title is perhaps the reason people would read the article, which is sort of the point I guess, to have them read it. It is what a journalist wants, and after reading the article, I think people would be encouraged to come and not discouraged by your unfortunate experience. In the end, you may have deftly done us a favor, since the villages do really live and die on tourism. I am glad to hear that the experience is not one that really affected your visit. That would have been truly unfortunate in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As I said, I would enjoy meeting you … with true hospitality …and showing you the inside of some of the incredible homes of friends there, if you are interested. That might inspire another, even better article! What do you think?
    Very Warmly,
    Ann

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