Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is France’s one of the most beautiful villages where natural wonders and timeless charm linger together. It seems even a slight glimpse at its quaint town can satisfy anybody’s wanderlust, without a doubt!
For years, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has been the haven of several creatives like writers and painters, inspired by the beauty of this village. In fact, in 2012, it was voted as Frances’ favorite village.
With everything Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has that you will see below in this post, it will not be hard to understand why.
Ever since I discovered Saint-Cirq-Lapopie from an internet article, I have always dreamed of going to that place.
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is just my ideal quaint village. I love how the half-timber and half-stone houses look. Also, its location is lovely as heaven! Everything combined, it seems like it is something straight out of a movie.
With so much inspiration, I created this blog post about Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France.
Here, you will find information and answers to commonly asked questions about Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Of course, the reasons why Saint-Cirq-Lapopie too.
Facts and information (i.e., opening hours, etc.) are based on the official website of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie unless stated.
I hope this blog post can help you decide to visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie or not. If you have any questions, just leave a question in the comment box.
Where is Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in France?
We can find Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in southwestern France in the Lot department of Occitania. It sits on a clifftop at an average altitude of 320 meters above sea level.
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is also in a regional park in France called Parc Naturel régional des Causses du Quercy. It is a UNESCO Global Geopark where craggy limestone plateaus and winding rivers are found.
Reasons to visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France
I love places such as Saint-Cirq-Lapopie so much! Not only do they fit my “old soul,” but they kinda give me a sense of escape from the not-so-beautiful world we are in.
Anyhow, places like Saint-Cirq-Lapopie can make our fantasies we think every time we watch series like Merlin or Games of Thrones come to life! With the medieval houses and centuries-old structures, it would feel like we are on a scene in these movies!
By the way, I wrote an article about the 10 most beautiful villages in the south of France (click here to read). Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is one of these beautiful villages. If you love quaint villages and medieval experiences, you should also discover the others. They’re just the perfect place to satisfy your wanderlust.
I give you down below the 7 reasons why visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. I think these are also the best things to do in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie when you decided to go:
Reason #1: Charming village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Half-timber, half stone, houses with sloping tile roofs. I am one hundred percent sure a stroll between these structures is a throwback to the yore.
To travel not only to another place but also to a different time. This is the first reason why visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, and its charming village will absolutely make it for us.
The village of Saint-Cirq-Lalopie is one of the most preserved in France. It’s a place where we can find houses already 5 centuries-old exist intact and untouched.
We can have a stroll within Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and get an absolutely nostalgic experience. No cars are allowed inside. Thus, it’s all medieval feels that shall fill us when we come!
Different monuments await us in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie too. It has a church, a castle in ruins, and few museums for us to discover.
Eglise de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
A monument that we can instantly spot as soon as we reach the vicinity of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is its 15th-century church standing on the rocky outcrop. It’s an eye-catcher, a honey-colored, tall structure that goes against the verdant green surrounding landscapes.
The church is dedicated to the youngest martyr in Christianity, Saint Cyricus, and it possesses a Languedoc-Gothic style architecture.
The church is located in the middle section of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie village. It has a mini plaza in its front. There, we can have an overlooking view of the village southwest.
Castle Ruins of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
There is another spot in the Saint-Cirq-Lapopie where we can see a much better view of the town. The path to the viewpoint starts on a staircase that leads to the highest point in town, where Saint-Cirq-Lapopie fortress once stood.
Yes, there was a fortress on the top of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. It was built at the highest portion of the village, serving as an outlook and a defensive stronghold.
For several battles like the conquest of Richard the Lionheart and the 100 years war, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie’s fortress has kept the village from being taken and conquered.
Its history goes deeper during the Wars of Religion until Louis XI decreed that the fortress be demolished. The total elimination of the castle, however, was instructed by King Henry IV.
Though the castle is now gone, the view that the guards saw during their stays.
Today, it is one of the best places to visit in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. There, we can see the village below as well as the river and scenic landscapes everywhere.
Reason #2: Dramatic viewpoints in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
The spot where the castle once stood isn’t the only one where we can see stunning views in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. There are two other likable viewpoints where picturesque sceneries await.
For me, these are another reason why visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Because unlike other villages in France, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie just has these scenic views, so awe-inspiring and refreshing to see!
One of these spots is located just before you enter Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Another is located a little away from the village:
You may click the links above to go to the exact location of these places in Google Maps.
Porte de Rocamadour
Porte de Rocamadour is the gate of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie village from the east. Here we can see the entire village the closest.
It isn’t hard to reach. If we are at the tourist information center, we can just follow the main lane at the village’s center and walk east. In a minute or two, we will arrive in Porte de Rocamadour.
Vènes Cirque – Lookout Point
Not too far from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, we can visit another scenic viewing spot to see some erosion and limestone dissolution. It’s called Venes Cirque Lookout Point, and there we can view a cliff carved by nature that forms a half-circular dip.
To come here, we just continue walking eastward from Porte de Rocamadour and follow Les Vezes Road. We can reach the Venes Cirque Lookout Point within 15 minutes by foot or 3 minutes by car. The viewpoint lies on a small path just before the curve in Les Vezes Road.
Reason #3: Scenic hiking trails in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Aside from the 15-minute hike to Vènes Cirque, there is another trail worth hiking that we can try in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Unlike Venes Cirque, these hikes offer picturesque views right away at the hiking trail.
The name of the hiking trail is Chemin de Halage, or what most people call “Towpath.” It is a 10-kilometer (roundtrip) path that connects the villages of Bouzies and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
The Towpath is one of the most recommended attractions in the Lot department. It is our third reason why we should visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
Chemin de Halage is definitely not an ordinary track or hiking trail. It is a path carved into the banks along the Lot River, where we can discover artworks made by nature and man.
The stroll in Chemin de Halage lets us see cliffs manifesting nature’s creativity. The wall of rocks above Towpath shows different colors from black to gray, amber-yellow to white. All mixed together like an abstract painting.
The Towpath is an easy hike with surprises everywhere. Along with it is a near-tunnel constructed from 1843 to 1846.
The near-tunnel is 400 meters long and 2 meters high, with art carvings created by Daniel Monnier, an artist from Toulouse. The masterpiece represents the River Lot’s natural characteristics such as the water, fish, and birds).
We will also pass several locks in the Chemin de Halage. If we are lucky, we can witness the fascinating entry of the boats inside a lock.
Reason #4: Relaxing boat ride in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie’s Lot River
Most people recommend that we start the hike of Chemin de Halage from the other town of Bouzies. To get to Bouzies, we go to Parking P1 near Lot River and take a Gabare boat ride with Les Croisieres de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
For me, this Gabare boat ride is another reason why we should visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. It is an experience to the traditional navigation that is used in Lot River since the 19th century.
Gabare is a flat-bottomed boat which draft only sinks only 70 cm deep (The draft is the part of the hull that is submerged into the water). It is made that way to fit the specifications of the river’s dam called “causeways.”
What’s more fascinating? Gabare, instead of using a sail, uses a long hemp rope attached to the mast to pull the vessels away from the banks. It is going to be a unique experience that we must try.
Also, Les Croisieres de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie offers adventures that are more than just a boat ride. They can let you rent your own Gabare, and they will teach you how to use it. They also offer pirate-themed boat rides, great for kids!
The boat ride passes almost the same attractions we’ll see in Towpath. Yet, of course, each has a different experience both are nice to try.
On the Gabare cruise, we will pass through the Ganil Causeway, Chateau des Anglais, and the Old Cargo Port. We will see how the Ganil Manual Lock works.
Similar to the experience in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie village, the Gabare boat ride shall be another throwback to the past experience – just in another setting. Here is the website of Les Croisieres de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie to reserve and book a ticket.
Reason #5: The Wonders in the Lot River near Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
The Chateau de Anglais, the cliff, and the Ganil Causeway Locks deserve another mention separate from the boat ride and Towpath. They are fascinations that are reasons why visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie absolutely.
The cliffs and the limestone walls are the ones we behold in our cruise along the Lot River. These land formations reach 70 meters in height, with marks of layers of colorful sediments on their facades. Absolutely, they are an admirable sight that turns even more awe-inspiring when hit by sunlight.
Ganil Causeway Locks
Perhaps the manual locks in Ganil will be the most intriguing part of sailing Lot River. Many are puzzled on how the ballet of lock doors and paddles sway open and close as boats enter and leave.
During peak season, there are lock operators who moderate the passing of boats using the techniques and motions used by traditional lockmasters. They demonstrate Lot’s cruising history, something not to be missed.
Chateau de Anglais
Last but not least is the Chateau de Anglais, the hidden gem of the River Lot. It lies very near Bouzies and perhaps, the last thing to discover in Lot River in Gabare boat ride or Towpath hike (if coming from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie).
Chateau de Anglais (Castle of the English) is an 11th-century fortification constructed into the cliff that served as a keep to watch and observe the River Lot. It also served as a refuge to the inhabitants of the nearby village whenever there are flooding and enemy attacks.
You may use the 360-view embedded above to pinpoint their location in Google Maps.
Reason #6: The museums in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Towpath leads us straight back to the Saint-Cirq-Lapopie village after cruising Lot River. This time, what’s left waiting for us to explore are the museum monuments lying within the town.
There are three notable cultural and artistic attractions that await us in the village. They are a reason to visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie for culture learning and discovery:
- The Maisons Daura (International Artist Residences)
- Musee Rignault
- Aux Petites Trouvailles (Small Finds Shop)
The Maisons Daura
The Maisons Daura is a research center for artistic innovation that is dedicated to contemporary work. They welcome artists everywhere to join the residence to create projects and artworks that reflect the life we currently live in. During summer, they present their collections for everyone to see.
It is a museum owned by Rignault, an art piece colletor. The museum is housed in a 15-century building with several collections of ancient statues that date back to the 13th to 15th centuries. The most notable part of his exhibit is the collection of African masks.
Aux Petites Trouvailles
Before we end our trip to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, we can visit a small shop to buy souvenirs. Here in Aux Petites Trouvailles, we can find objects we can put in our house to embellish it with a taste of history.
Reason #7: Historic Pech Merle Cave near Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Another reason to visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is the bonus destination after checking all the attractions in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. That is the Pech Merle Cave, located 20 minutes away from the village.
In Pech Merle Cave, we can find the first signs of human life that date back to prehistoric times near Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Inside we can find several prehistoric cave paintings with hand figures and animals like horses.
Is Saint-Cirq-Lapopie worth visiting?
In summary, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a quaint village regarded as France’s favorite beautiful village. A stroll in its cobblestone streets surrounded by half-timber and half-rock houses can make you feel like traveling back in time. There are a few things to do inside the village, but there are wonders that await in Lot River beside it.
Inspiring photos of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Still undecided if you’ll visit Saint-Cirq-Lapopie or not? Here are some of the scenes that you’ll find inside the village to help you decide if to go or not:
Save it on Pinterest.
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