Arriving in St. Cirq (pronounced “sear”, as in pan-seared fish) was like stumbling onto a scene from a fairytale.
Did you catch that?
When we first arrived it was a little difficult to find parking. (As you can imagine, parking was not a priority among the town’s architects and builders. It dates back to the 1200’s.) I surely didn’t help Vlad at all, pointing wildly and yelling “Look at that! Look over there!” while he was trying not to bash the car into the tiny road’s high walls, or run over all the elderly tourists. We finally did park and began walking through the village, our first priority being to find some lunch.
The dark secret lurking beneath St. Cirq’s seemingly innocent and charming exterior is that after 2pm all the restaurants stop serving food. Which means that if you arrive at 2:10pm you are promptly refused service by every single restaurant in the entire village.
After sitting on this bench and eating the few snacks we brought,
we continued on our restaurant search, picking grapes along the way from the many vines wrapped around the town.
The lack of open restaurants proved to be a good thing though, because we ended up going to the store of a nice German lady that we otherwise would not have gone to. She had many different local products available for sale, and you could choose the ones you wanted, eat right at her terrace, and take the leftovers with you. Vlad speaks German, and she, being German, speaks perfect English, so we had a very nice tri-lingual conversation.
After eating, we explored the village at leisure.
The dominant feature of the village is the ever-present church. Wherever you are, you can always see it.
In France, there is a tradition that when you get married, your guests honk their car horns as loudly and as obnoxiously as possible, for as long as possible. Judging by the amount of car horns we heard, there were several weddings on Saturday. I know there was at least one!
We ended the first part of the day by sitting on these quiet benches with a nice view of one side of the village.
Afterwards, we went to our hotel a few minutes outside of St. Cirq, and after resting, came back for dinner. A word to the wise, 8pm dinner time is the equivalent of 2pm lunch time. Luckily we found a place (that turned us down for lunch) that stayed open a little later. It was a good choice.
After dinner we had to walk back to the parking lot in absolute, pitch black darkness. A walk that seemed 5 minutes in the daylight now seemed to be half an hour. Poor Vlad couldn’t see a thing and was afraid we would walk off the edge of the cliffs and fall to our certain death any minute. I have better eyesight and could fortunately see the outline of the rock wall along the road, but I was afraid a wolf, bear or robber would jump out of the woods and maim us into oblivion and certain death. (None of those things happened.)
A bonus of the darkness though was that we could see the stars like we have never seen them before. I have honestly never seen so many stars in my life, not even in the desert. The entire sky was overflowing with them; we could even see the smoky white line of the galaxy crossing the sky. It was certainly something I’ll never forget, although it did not assuage our fears of death. After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to the car, and drove back to the hotel, thus ending the perfect day at St. Cirq-Lapopie.