Sophie S is the perfect host, meeting us in a nearby public parking area, guiding us to the residents' parking lot, and taking us with our suitcases in her car to her house. St. Cirq Lapopie does not allow cars in the village, so this is all very important. The house itself is beautiful; the views you see on the website, which Sophie really does not brag enough about, are actually views from the house itself. The oldest house in the village, once owned by Andre Breton, is practically next door. I will say that you should pay attention to Sophie's warnings about the stairs: this is a medieval house on four levels, one room to a floor, with fairly steep circular stairs, so (as she says) is not suited to small children or to people with limited mobility. There's a toilet on the ground floor, another on the fourth floor (bedroom), and the sink/bath (with excellent shower) is on the first floor -- you need to keep a good sense of where you are! Sophie left us vegetables and pasta to cook a first dinner, and eating in her lovely garden right off the kitchen is a very great treat. St Cirq is a perfect center for visiting the villages of the Lot, but you may find as we did that St Cirq itself is the prettiest village of them all. Wise development has kept St Cirq a village of artisans (and, OK, ice cream shops, but it was good ice cream) rather than a village of T-shirt shops like poor Rocamadour.
My girlfriend and I stayed in this house for a week at the end of June, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a peaceful stay in a property full of character.
Sophie, our host, kept in regular contact with us, right from the moment we made our booking, checking to see whether there was anything we needed, or if she could help with advice on places to go and things to see. A few days before our trip she sent us detailed directions on how to find the house, and we had no problems meeting up at the agreed time and place. As no tourist cars are allowed within the village we followed Sophie in our hire car to a small resident’s car park at the foot of the hill, where she gave us a permit to display on our dash so we could park for free. She then very kindly took our bags in her car, while we walked the short distance up through the beautiful medieval streets, meeting her again at the front door.
Before we went inside Sophie introduced us to Christine, who lives and works in the house adjoining hers, and explained that if we had any problems we could also go to her, which was comforting to know.
Leaving the heat of the afternoon behind we entered the house through a lovely stable door into the ground floor lounge, off which there is a pretty little bathroom with a very powerful shower! We tended to spend a lot of our time in this room, mainly because, although there is Wi-Fi available, it is in Christine’s house, so the signal is only really strong enough here for a good connection.
From here a set of narrow and rather steep stairs led down to a large and very cool kitchen, with tiled floor and high ceiling, complete with beams. There is also a WC in a little room under the stairs. Although we tended to eat out most evenings, the kitchen is wonderfully equipped with everything you would need to make cooking here an enjoyable experience. Here Sophie had very kindly left a little welcoming collection of bread, cheeses, honey, marmalade, coffee, milk and a bottle of red wine, which was a thoughtful touch and much appreciated.
From the kitchen a large pair of wooden doors, set in a wide stone arch, led us out into a little walled garden with plenty of shade, and a set of garden furniture that we often used to enjoy breakfast whilst marveling at the view out over the lower reaches of the village and the Aveyron valley.
Returning to the ground floor a set of wooden stairs in the corner climbs to the principal room on the first floor, in medieval times the Great Chamber. This is by far the most impressive room in the house, with an imposing stone fireplace and a 15th century stone mullion and transom window, with shutters but no glass, that looked out into the street and up to the church, towering high above us. We simply loved this room as it embodied everything we hoped to experience by renting such an historic house like this.
A final flight of stairs leads up to the bedroom, set below the beams of the high-gabled roof. Off here there is also another little WC, which is a godsend as the walk all the way down to the one in the kitchen is quite a trek! Although extremely pretty and atmospheric, the bedroom is very warm at the end of a hot day, so thankfully Sophie had also provided a fan which we kept on whilst sleeping and which helped to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Spending a week in the heart of medieval Saint-Cirq, with such a beautiful home as our base, was everything we hoped it would be. The views, the peace and quiet, the smell of the wood and the sound of the church bells, all added to make our experience unforgettable. If there were any negatives, then it would only be that the local restaurant, le Cantou, has an outside eating area at its rear which abuts the garden, and on busy evenings the sound of diners enjoying themselves can sometimes be heard until quite late. However, this was only noticeable on the Saturday evening and didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the house.
We would wholeheartedly recommend this property to anyone who loves their history and is looking for a convenient base to explore the Lot. We would happily stay here again.