Saint Cirq Lapopie perched on an ‘eagle’s nest’

Saint Cirq Lapopie commands the Lot River and the Causse de Gramat from atop a 100m high promontory.

Saint Cirq Lapopie
Village and church

Locals call it La Perle de la Vallée du Lot – Pearl of the Lot Valley, but also Merveille du Quercy – Wonder of Quercy.

Its exceptional location has turned it into one of the most coveted strongholds of the region since time immemorial.

Perched on an eagle’s nest, it faces a semi-circular cliff or cirque, hence its name!

According to Christian legend, the village was named after S. Cyr.

St. Amadour is said to have brought back the holy man’s relics from Asia Minor in the 3rd century AD.

Saint Cirq stronghold became the seat of one of the four viscounties that formed the region of Quercy.

Saint Cirq Lapopie - Porte Pelisseria
Porte Pelisseria

Four local feudal dynasties – Lapopie, Gourdon, Cardaillac and the Castelnau – built it and enlarged it through the centuries.

The Lapopie erected the first fortress on the breast-shaped rock, locally nicknamed la popie.

The fortress resisted the 5th century Frankish attacks, those of the English  during the Hundred Years War and finally those of the Duke of Aquitaine in the 12th century.

The Cardaillac built their fortress on the foundations of a 13th century tower located below the chapel.

Only the foundations are left of this fortress, which was demolished in 1487 on the orders of King Charles VIII.

Protestants took refuge in the ruined fortress during the Wars of Religion.

However, the Catholic troops defeated them and destroyed what was left of the fortress in 1580.

The remaining ruins still give a good idea of how impressive this fortress once was!

Saint Cirq Lapopie ranked among the ‘Plus beaux villages de France’

Saint Cirq Lapopie - Medieval houses and church
Medieval houses and church

The village spreads below the ruins and is ranked among the most beautiful villages in France.

It indeed boasts a unique display of medieval architecture with magnificently restored houses ranging from the 12th to the 16th century.

Half-timbered houses, Renaissance mansions roofed with brown tiles and opened with mullioned windows and Gothic buildings with corbelled facades border the twisty and narrow village lanes.

Saint-Cirq Church was built in the early 16th century.

However, the Romanesque chapel, built to serve the castle, was integrated into the Gothic building.

The simplicity of the fully restored interior enhances the colourful new stained glass windows which let the light pour into the nave.

Maison Rignault and Auberge des Mariniers

Some village mansions were fortified.

One of them, La Maison Rignault, once stood just below the fortress and was was therefore part of the fortifications.

Saint Cirq Lapopie - Saint-Cirq Church
Saint-Cirq Church

It became the private residence of the Hébrard de St. Sulpice Family after the Cardaillac demolished the castle.

The writer André Breton, one of the founders of the Surrealism movement, discovered Saint Cirq Lapopie in the 1950s.

He moved into the Auberge des Mariniers, a Gothic fortified mansion located below La Maison Rignault.

Ordinary dwellings were also restored and today accommodate crafts workshops.

Boxwood turners or roubinetaïres, as they were called locally, once made the reputation of Saint Cirq Lapopie.

They ceased their activities long ago, however, have been replaced by a new generation of craftsmen, who are reviving traditional crafts.

In the Middle-Ages craftsmen of the same guild traditionally settled together along the same street.

Porte de Pelisseria

Saint Cirq Lapopie - Medieval house
Medieval house

Blacksmiths or peyroliers therefore worked in Rue de la Peyrolerie.

Furriers had their tanneries and workshops along the Rue de la Pelissaria.

This lane leads down to the Porte de Pelissaria, one of the medieval village’s fortified gates.

It offers a different perspective of the village and is a great spot for photos!

Another viewpoint- Bancourel Belvedère:

Drive along the D40 towards Cahors; the promontory is located near Bouziès and prime views of St.Cirq village, the rock of La Popie and the valley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Occitanie – Latest content