vers saint-cirq-lapopie, le plus beau village en france
As I mentioned earlier, the Célé River and the GR651 diverge from the Chemin de St Jacques de Compostelle (GR65) near Figeac. Some kilometers past Cabrerets the GR651 forks and the pèlerin can continue to Cahors, the usual route, or the pèlerin can veer left and walk to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, a small village that was voted on a public television program in 2012 the most beautiful village in France.
DAY 16 à Saint-Cirq-Lapopie sur Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle par la vallée du Célé.
Later, I will show why Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is worth a visit. It is an extraordinarily pretty village high on a steep ridge that has a panoramic view of the surrounding valley. It was once a veritable defensive stronghold, and it is easy to understand why. But that will come later. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Let’s make our way to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie along the Lot River. Looking back across the Lot river and toward the river’s edge where one has recently walked but now on the other side and on the way to Saint-Cirque-Lapopie, one can see the road and a tunnel through the side of a mountain. Above that tunnel are some buildings constructed within the moutain’s wall. When I return I will ask about their purpose, their history. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Another surprise is the half-tunnel carved out of the mountain side that permits a pèlerin to walk along the side of the Lot river and on to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. On this day the clouds hung low and clouded the distance. The river seemed eerily glassy. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
More surprises! Carved into the stone walls of the half-tunnel are abstract murals. Is someone wanting to postpone my arrival in the most beautiful village in France? (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
The Lot River is used by boats and along its banks are some locks that allow barges access upstream. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Small farms and small pastures are blocked off along the way. Pastoral. Peaceful. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
In Saint-Cirq-Lapopie I will spend a comfortable night at the Hôtel-Bar-Restaurant L’Auberge du Sombral. The meals will be excellent.