Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

St-Cirq Lapopie, perched on a cliff 100 metres above the river and classed as one of the most beautiful villages of France, is situated 30km to the east of Cahors on the D40, on the south bank of the river Lot, only 12km from the Pech-Merle cave at Cabrerets.

A path on the right of the mairie leads up to the remains of the château Lapopie on the highest point of the cliff. From the rock is a remarkable view of the village of Saint-Cirq and the river.

In the Middle Ages, St-Cirq Lapopie was the main town of one of the four viscountcies that made up Quercy. It was divided between four feudal dynasties, Lapopie, Gourdon, Cardaillac and Castelnau, and was dominated by a fortress, now ruined, made up of a number of castles and towers.

Below the cliff, on the river Lot, the old watermills, weirs, harbours, locks and haulage path are testimony to the days of river transport. A footpath leads along the old haulage path from Bouziès to Saint-Cirq.

Below the rock of the fortress, the village streets lead down to fortified gates. Many historic houses have stone or half-timbered facades dating back to the 13th-16th centuries. The houses are narrow with steep tiled roofs. The gabled houses fronting on the street are separated by a narrow space called an entremi, which carried away rainwater and waste from sinks and latrines. Some street names are reminders of the crafts that were once the wealth of the village. There were hide merchants in rue de la Pélissaria, metalworkers in rue Payrolerie, and boxwood turners, or roubinétaïres, with workshops producing button moulds, trenchers, goblets and spigots for casks.

In the past many painters came to live and work in the village - first the post-impressionist Henri Martin, then the surrealists, along with the poet André Breton. Nowadays, especially in summer, the village attracts many visitors to its narrow streets, gift shops, cafes and restaurants.

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