When André Breton, co-founder of the Surrealist movement, arrived in the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in the 1950s, he declared that he never wanted to be anywhere else. He bought a house and spent each summer here until his death in 1966.
It’s not hard to see why he loved it so! Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is the fourth ‘most beautiful village’ you’ll visit walking along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques (there are eleven in all!) and is one of the reasons I recommend taking the Célé variante rather than the traditional route along the GR 65.
Before you scroll to the bottom for practical tips on where to stay and where to eat, let’s take a look around the village.
(First published 2013, updated August 2019)
How to spend a day in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
If you are approaching Saint-Cirq-Lapopie along the GR 36 from Bouziès, climb to the top of the bluff on your way in for a stunning view of the village and surrounding countryside.
This commanding position, with views along the river, ensured Saint-Cirq-Lapopie’s place as one of the most important towns in the region during the Middle Ages. Access to the river provided a constant supply of water for tanneries and craftsmen and the river itself facilitated trade throughout France.
During this time, the town prospered but was constantly under siege. From the twelfth century, fortified castles and towers protected the ruling viscounts. Evidence of this history is still apparent—the crumbling walls next to the church were once part of a keep belonging to the Cardaillac family and, as you climb up to the lookout, you’ll see the ruins of the château belonging to the Lapopies. Over the years, the castles have all but disappeared and only one of the gates, Porte de Rocamadour, remains.
Follow the steps of the artists
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie has long been a haven for artists with many coming in search of inspiration and never leaving.
There are over a dozen galleries and ateliers (workshops, en anglais) where it is possible to see and buy works of art created locally, and in many cases, watch the craftsmen at their work. To make sure you don’t miss any, pick up a map—Sur les pas des artistes—from the Tourist Office.
Once you’ve seen all the main sights, it’s time to put the map away and head down any of the narrow lanes. You’ll always have the church steeple to guide you back to the centre of the village, so lose yourself among the maze of stone cottages and timbered houses.
For a more organised and informative tour of the village, guided visits leave from the Tourist Office every morning during the summer months.
Église de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Dominating the skyline of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is the sixteenth century church dedicated to Saint-Cyr and his mother, Sainte-Julitte. Cyr was the youngest of the Christian martyrs – beaten to death at the age of three to punish his mother after she attacked a Roman magistrate.
Inside the church, simple white-washed walls and a rainbow of stained glass windows provide a backdrop for artwork by the Sunday School children – signs of a church well-loved and well-used by the local community.
The church was built on the same ground as an earlier roman chapel and still retains some features from that time, including a twelfth-century sculpture and fragments of wall paintings from the thirteenth century.
Relax in one of the outdoor cafés
The hardest decision you will have to make during you visit to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is where to eat. Everywhere you turn there are picturesque cafés enticing you to stop and rest awhile. For delicious, reasonably priced food in a beautiful setting, I can recommend l’Oustal and Lou Bolat.
Of course, you could always stay a few days and eat your way around the village.
Shop at the Wednesday night market
Leaving Saint-Cirq-Lapopie without a tangible reminder of your visit is nigh on impossible. If you are lucky enough to visit on a Wednesday in July or August, the evening markets are an ideal place to start shopping.
At other times of the year, there are dozens of gift shops to tempt you—so give in and treat yourself to something special. With a little dedication, I am sure you’ll find something for everyone on your gift list.
Which long-distance walk in France visits Saint-Cirq-Lapopie?
Where is Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France? Find it on Google maps
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is located on the Célé variante, 322 kilometres (201 miles) along the Chemin de Saint-Jacques – eighteen days walk from the starting point of Le-Puy-en-Velay.
Click through to find my suggested itinerary for all five stages of the walk
If you prefer to set your own agenda, I share the steps I take to calculate distances on any long-distance walk (using the Chemin de Stevenson as a case study)
Tourist Office in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
You’ll find the Tourist Office in Place du Sombral.
Accommodation in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
For most of the year, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a village of a little over 200 inhabitants, but during the summer, the population swells. If you are planning your overnight stops in advance, I recommend booking ahead to secure a room. You’ll find accommodation at –
Auberge de Sombral (pictured above)
À la Source
Campground la Plage
Where to eat in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
You’ll find more cafés in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie than you could possibly hope to eat at over a short stay. I’ve enjoyed a cheap and cheerful lunch at Lou Bolat and a decadent, but reasonably priced, dinner at l’Oustal.
You’ll also find groceries and many speciality food stores in the village.