Day 20: Marcilhac-sur-Célé to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Thursday, 27 June 2002
Distance 35 km
Map 57 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
Topoguide (Ref 652) Sentier de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle Figeac/Cahors/Agen/Moissac

Walking in France: Back up on the causse
Back on the high causse

As soon as we left the town, we had to scramble up a stony track, but the sun was not yet over the cliffs so it was easy enough. We were not as well pleased when we found ourselves going down just as steeply to a farm in a side valley, then immediately up again, this time in full sun.

The track continued in this way for some time before we joined a road that led down to Sauliac. The sight of the flat river road had the same effect on us as yesterday – we abandoned the GR and went the rest of the way to Cabrerets on the tree-shaded road beside the stream.

Many bends later we made it into the town and threw our packs down on the deck of a café jutting over the water. We ordered the first coffees of the day as the bells rang for midday.

Walking in France: Dry stone walled track on the causse
Dry stone walled track on the causse

With new energy we set off again, rejoining the GR as it merged with the road, but soon realised we had missed the sharp turn towards Bouziès and were now on our way to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie by the road.

We passed the point where the Célé flows into the Lot and continued up the right bank of the Lot, scurrying through several road tunnels.

Our destination, the extremely picturesque village on its high promontory above the river, just opposite where we sat down for lunch, could not be reached until we came to a bridge much further along, but the good thing was that the camping ground was just over the bridge, and we were spared the heavy climb to the village to search for it.

Walking in France: Looking down on Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Looking down on Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

We had a hint of what sort of village it was when we came to big parking enclosures on the way up. Throngs of tourists had transformed what must have been a particularly isolated, inward-looking hamlet into the present thriving fairground.

The lanes of pointy-roofed houses and the disintegrating fortifications on the brink of the precipice are certainly very appealing, but there is nowhere to buy a loaf of bread, which we needed for tomorrow’s lunch.

We finally persuaded the manager of a regional delicacies shop to sell us the half-baguette in her window display.

Walking in France: Dinner in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Dinner in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

There was no shortage of restaurants and we ate a glorious three-course meal on a terrace hidden behind an ancient wall, with white market umbrellas and tubs of flowers.

We had paté and a salade composée to begin, then rare steak in a creamy sauce, and finally, coffee and blackcurrant icecream.

Walking back down the long road to our tent, we saw a bank of dark cloud rising in the west and only just got snugly inside when a monumental storm struck. There was something delightful about the hammering of the rain on our little dry haven.

Previous day: Béduer to Marcilhac-sur-Célé

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