Print Posted By Lost in France on 12 Mar 2010 in French Regions - Midi Pyrenees

Explore the the Lot valley - Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Leaving Cahors, a road winds along the cliffs of the Lot valley towards Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. This medieval village marries the rock face 100 metres above the river, opening onto a cascade of narrow cobbled streets, Gothic façades and fortified doors. Formerly witness to flourishing waterway activity and famous for its boxwood turning, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a listed site boasting 13 historical monuments. The village has successfully kept its heritage intact as well as its charm.

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

From the start of the 20th century, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie attracted artists and Parisian gallery owners, then a number of artists from the Surrealist movement, including André Breton who set up residence here. The artistic dimension of Saint-Cirq- Lapopie still persists today, permeating the village's contemporary art scene and the international artist's residence in the Maison Daura.

Catch the best view over Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

A hotel built by Eric Vivens is due to open in March 2010, opposite the extraordinary cliff-side village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. The hotel has been designed to emulate a typical Quercy hamlet, with its different buildings housing a total of 20 rooms and a reception building built in wood and modelled on the old tobacco-drying barns. This building will be used for hosting cookery workshops run by designer Rosi and Pierre Larapidie, a star-rated chef from the Georges V in Paris. Information: +33 (0)5 65 31 21 20.

Visit the "jewel of the Lot valley" on a June morning

It is only outside of the summer months, when the café terraces are calm and the workshops open up in the refreshing shade of the high-arched Gothic doors, that one can catch a glimpse of the real character of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. The Gothic refinement of the houses, the hollyhock that St-Cirq has adopted for its emblem and the site's harmony as a whole take on a particular form: one can seize upon the spirit of a village that has barely changed since the time when cabécou cheese (a small goat cheese from the Lot) was used as currency.

The harmony of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is essentially due to the fact that the houses, which were built in symbiosis with the cliff, make use of only three materials, all found within a 10km radius.

All the roofs are lined with "tuilot" - thin terracotta tiles from the Lot (made from the local blood-coloured clay. Each wall is built from amber-coloured limestone taken from the surrounding prairies. Each door and wooden shutter is cut from brown oak from the Causse, which is as hard as steel. This results in a vibrant fusion of textures and colours, nature and architecture.

Pick your own Saffron in Quercy

Saffron Crocus - Photo by Gut GimritzQuercy Saffron is a spice obtained from a bluish-mauve coloured flower with a contrasting deep red stigma. The spice, considered a luxury product, is obtained by removing the stigma. Saffron has been grown in Quercy since the Middle Ages, particularly around Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Cajarc. It was grown in kitchen gardens by many families for their own consumption. Now, around 80 growers produce between six and eight kilograms of saffron a year. In October, when the saffron is in flower, growers organise visits to their farms and visitors are invited to learn about the secrets behind the exclusively manual production techniques and purchase saffron stigma on-site. Quercy Saffron can also be purchased from the Codeval cooperative in Cajarc. This small town, twenty minutes away from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, organises the Fête du Safran every year on the last weekend of October.
Information: Cajarc tourist office. Phone: +33 (0)5 65 40 72 89.

Further Information

Comité Régional du Tourisme Midi-Pyrénées
54 Bd de l'Embouchure
BP 52166 - 31022 TOULOUSE Cedex 2
www.tourism-midi-pyrenees.co.uk

More Info

Source: ATOUT FRANCE - France Tourism Development Agency. For more information visit www.franceguide.com.
 

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