Pech Merle and Saint-Cirq LaPopie

Yesterday Sally took us on a day-long tour. We began with a 1.5 hour drive basically along the River Lot, through Cahors, and then over to the town of Cabrerets. This is the location of Pech Merle, one of the renowned prehistoric caves in France. Pech Merle is known for the paintings of spotted horses and people and it didn’t disappoint. However, photos are not permitted, so you will have to take my word for it and visit their web site. The cave itself is as interesting as the paintings due to the magnificent formations of calcite. There are the usual stalactites and stalagmites, but also huge discs, small “pearls”, and translucent sheets that look a bit like streaky bacon. It is a veritable wonderland underground. It is no wonder that our ancestors chose this place in which to draw.


Following our tour of the cave we drove to Saint-Cirq LaPopie, a beautiful medieval village set high on a cliff above the Lot River.

This town drew post-Impressionists like Henri Martin and was the home of French poet and founder of surrealism Andre Breton as well as communist writer and politician Charles Rappoport. We had lunch at a wonderful little hotel/restaurant,Le Sombral. Sally had their special lamb, Jean the cheese plate, and I had the duck, including foie gras and jambon de canard – duck ham. One of the adventures of travel is to eat local delicacies. We were not disappointed. Jean and I also had glasses of Chateau Eugenie, a Cahors wine that was wonderful!

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After lunch we strolled through the narrow ancient lanes along the steep hillside. The entire town is like a museum with few people living in the village year round. Houses and shops are only open for the tourist season.  We were fortunate to meet Danielle Mary, a wonderful painter. We enjoyed talking about art and painting together. Take a look at her website: D. Mary.

IMG_2047 Large Web view

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie would be an interesting place to visit in the off season. On this visit, however, the rain began to fall and we abbreviated our walk to return to the car park and drive home. When the sun shone briefly we took a little detour to a picturesque village, St. Vincent, to grab some quick photos. This charming village lies on a small stream just a few hundred meters from its confluence with the Lot.

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The main storm arrived just as we were eating dinner in Sally’s kitchen. Wind, rain, and hail pelted us all night.


About Paul

I'm retired, but working at painting, photography, and song writing. We like to travel and paint plein air in new places. Of course that's also where photography comes into the picture, so to speak. Sometimes I get inspired to write songs about the people and places we visit.
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4 Responses to Pech Merle and Saint-Cirq LaPopie

  1. Antoinette says:

    I am impressed that you were allowed to enter the caves at Pech Merle. I have read that even people’s breath can damage the paintings. I am glad that you encountered artists — even those who expressed themselves so long ago — who share your love for that region.

    • Paul says:

      Many of the caves are open for tours, but numbers and time are strictly controlled. Many caves also are closed to visitation. One of the factors is the cost of development and maintenance in addition to the potential for damage.

  2. Jean-Paul Dumont says:

    All this looks lovely until I heard of the storms that did hit your area. Paris remained dry. I strolled quite a bit as my last visitor was an enthusiastic walker!

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