Deep in the rural heart of south-west France, a small, unassuming village perches precariously on a high cliff 100m above a wide meander of the River Lot. This is Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, acclaimed as a masterpiece of medieval architecture, dominated by a fortified church (right) which overlooks a jumble of brown-roofed houses separated by narrow winding alleys, that tumble down the hillside. Artists and writers have long been drawn to this picturesque spot and its popularity amongst French visitors has now been acknowledged.
You see, on 26 June 2012 Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was awarded the prestigious title of 'The Favourite Village of the French', after coming top in a competition between 22 villages which between them make up the 'Most Beautiful Villages in France'. The competition was organized by the French Tourist Board, who asked 65,000 internet users to vote on a number of criteria, including architecture, landscape heritage, quality of lifestyle and good eating. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was a clear winner.
The Lot region is a delight to explore, and on a walking holiday here (based in the sleepy hamlet of Bez de Naussac, just a short distance from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie) you can immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery of the Three Rivers of the South-West. The three rivers in question are the Célé, Aveyron and Lot which wind through a timeless landscape of rolling, wooded hills and valleys, where medieval villages, crumbling castles, ornate mansions and fortified bridges await discovery.
The French have voted Saint-Cirq-Lapopie their favourite village, but there's only one way for you to see if you agree...