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Tour Highlights

This area of France is a well-kept secret: few tourists,
beautiful ancient stone houses, delightful people and
delicious food. It was a once in a lifetime trip.
- Suzanne Penn, student, 2004

Midi-Pyrénées Region of France
The map to the left shows, in white, the Midi-Pyrénées Region of France. Click on the map for a larger view of the region, including the general location of St. Cirq La Popie and several surrounding places of interest.

For additional information about the area of the Lot Valley within Midi-Pyrénées, click here to go to a France official tourism site: http://www.tourisme-lot.com/us.

Pointers on painting landscape

St. Cirq La Popie
St. Cirq is one of France’s designated “most beautiful villages.” The town is perched high on a cliff above the Lot River, with a magnificent view of fields and hills. The historic half-timbered buildings, cobbled streets and terrace gardens have been maintained, and the town is virtually as it was in the 13th century.

One of the few caves in France still open to the public, this cave has spectacular limestone formations and prehistoric drawings from 30,000 years ago. An added bonus is the drive to Pech-Merle through a dramatic, wild canyon alongside the Cele River.

The interior of the cathedral in Albi
The entire city, including the huge, baroque Cathedrale Ste. Cecilia, is built of red clay from the banks of the River Tarn which winds through the city. Albi is the birthplace of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and the Musée-Toulouse Lautrec has the largest collection of his work anywhere. We will tour both the cathedral and visit the museum.

Spices for sale at the
Villefranche market
Villefranche-de-Rouergue market & Limogne market
Villefranche is formed around an arcaded central square. A colorful open-air market – one of the best in the region – is held weekly in the 14th century cathedral plaza. We will sketch and write, drink café au lait in the arcade cafes that overlook the market, and shop in the market for our picnic lunch.

Limogne, a charming small village near St. Cirq, has an open-air market on Sunday mornings.

Figeac is on the Cele River and contains a picturesque old city center. It is the home of the linguist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832) who deciphered the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta stone. We will visit the Musee Champollion.

Conques is a medieval hill town preserved almost as it was during the Middle Ages. At its center is a beautiful Romanesque cathedral dedicated to Ste. Foi, a 12 year old girl martyred at the hands of the Romans. The cathedral has a famous tympanum, with some of its original paint. Conques is on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

Boatman's Walk beneath St. Cirq
Visit Boatman's Walk beneath St. Cirq
We will walk and paint along the Ganil Towpath cut into the cliffs below St. Cirq. For many centuries, the Lot River was a major trading route. Boatsmen tied ropes to the mast and hauled their boats along this section of the river. The path leads to the village of Bouziès.

An entreé at Gindreau
Gindreau Restaurant
We will visit many fine local restaurants in St.Cirq and the Lot Valley, but dining at Gindreau is a special event! It is a five-star restaurant with a well-deserved reputation, serving local cuisine at its finest. Each plate is an exquisite work of art. We will dine on the terrace overlooking wooded hills.

Owner of the Restaurante des Touristes
Not far from the Grotte-de-Pech-Merle is the charming village of Marcilhac on the Cele River. We will picnic beside the river, visit the town’s Benedictine abbey ruin, and paint and write. We will eat a family-style dinner at the Restaurante-des-Touristes. The elderly sister and brother, retired owners of the restaurant as well as the cooks, open the kitchen for us every year. This is an unforgettable experience.

Painter Charlotte Ince
Visit ateliers of
local artists
French artists Alain Prillard and Charlotte Ince, our local liaisons, will introduce us to local artists and we will visit their ateliers.

Musée de L'Insolite
Visit Musée de L'Insolite
We will visit the studio–museum of an outsider artist, whose work has a strong surrealist bent.