Dream house, mythic village*
House | 5 bedrooms | sleeps 10
(Please Note: we love vacation rentals out in the country with pools--Europe has thousands of them. But living in your own spacious, private home in this fairytale village in this extraordinary region of France is a vacation you won't experience anywhere else in the world. And p.s., you won't miss the pool--there's a great sandy beach on the river.)
*Richard the Lion-Heart (Coeur de Lion, the name of our house) was repelled by village archers from invading St. Cirq Lapopie in the 12th Century! (There's an archer's window in the house.) More recently, St. Cirq Lapopie was designated 'Premier" among "the 100 most beautiful villages in France."
For just a moment, imagine spending a week or two in a fully-equipped house in the heart of an enchanting and lively medieval village, surrounded by gorgeous fields, limestone cliffs, and a magnificent river, where you can take just a short walk to artist studios, gourmet restaurants, and wonderful shops, yet live in the delightful and sun-lit privacy of your own home, perfectly located for day trips or hikes or bicycling, to castles, vineyards, markets, museums and more.
Between the Dordogne and Provence, on a cliff overlooking a magnificent river valley, lies the lively, medieval village of St. Cirq Lapopie, a place Richard the Lion-hearted once failed to conquer.
And between 13th Century walls, in the heart of this charming village that time has left untarnished, lies this beautiful five bedroom, three bathroom house, currently undergoing a complete renovation to be completed by winter 2012 (the designer/builder is Ivan De Jong, see his work at ivandejongdesign). Reservations for May through October of 2013 only, please.
This is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, a gathering of friends, a family reunion, for anyone wanting the intimacy of a great French village, the privacy of a spacious, cozy home, and a launching pad for incomparable day trips.
As you stroll through its medieval gate and gaze at the ancient red-roofed village houses, many garlanded with flowers, you'll imagine that time has stood still. But when you walk through the old oak door of our home, you'll find all the contemporary trappings are there--from the complete gourmet kitchen to the luxurious king beds to the two-person porcelain tubs.
There is plenty of room for a family or two, or for a reunion or large group of friends, but the design of the house, with its master bedroom, bath, and study just above the open living space, makes this a cozy, intimate place for even a single couple.
Designated an historic site and (in 2012) "the most beautiful village in France," St. Cirq Lapopie has been a mecca for artists and writers throughout the past century. The town is alive with small shops and fine restaurants, art studios, a museum, a cathedral, and more. There's a sandy beach too. You don't have to stray far.
Yet just beyond the village environs lie castles and markets, cave paintings and cathedrals, museums and vineyards, and the lush countryside. You can bicycle for traffic-free miles along the majestic Lot river. Or canoe for hours along the banks of the river from town to town. Or simply walk to the local castle or a nearby patisserie or cafe.
Whether your prefer lazing or action, window gazing or window shopping,dining out or cooking in, day trips or just a stroll to the corner, there is no end of enticing choices in our friendly, inviting village.
|Size||Sleeps up to 10, 5 bedrooms|
|Nearest beach||Lovely sand beach at edge of village|
|Will consider||Corporate bookings, Long term lets (over 1 month), Short breaks (1-4 days)|
|Access||Car essential, Wheelchair users|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Toulouse 90 km, Nearest railway: Cahors 25 km|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages, Suitable for people with restricted mobility|
|Notes||Pets welcome, No smoking at this property|
Features and Facilities
|Luxuries||Log fire, Internet access, DVD player|
|General||TV, CD player, Telephone, Wi-Fi available|
|Utilities||Clothes dryer, Dishwasher, Cooker, Microwave, Fridge, Washing machine|
|Rooms||5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms of which 4 Family bathrooms|
|Furniture||1 Sofa beds, Single beds (4), Double beds (5), Dining seats for 11, Lounge seats for 11|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided|
|Outdoors||Private garden, Shared garden, BBQ|
|Access||Parking, Wheelchair users|
|Further details indoors|
With lots of light and wonderful views from its many windows, this beautiful stone house, with its red terra cotta roof, was built in the 13th Century, now being fully renovated for the 21st Century. It has been designed to provide all the conveniences of a modern home yet retains the charm of its ancient history.
A tall glass arch offers day-long southern exposure, and its entry door, fashioned from an oak wine vat found on the property, delivers you into the open-style main floor, with its gourmet kitchen, dining area, and living room.
The house has been designed to provide all the typical modern amenities-- dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, internet, telephone, dvd player, and a kitchen fully stocked with pots, pans, and the other necessities for gourmet cooking and fine dining.
There is a fireplace to warm the house on cool Spring mornings or cool Fall evenings, or anytime one wants the crackle and radiance of a real fire. And there is a library of good books, dvds, and stacks of games to play.
There are five bedrooms in the house, with a flexible combination of king beds, double beds, and twins. On the top floor there is also a separate study, a place to read or to watch a dvd movie on television, leaving the living room free for other activities.
All bedding and linens are provided. Windows bring in warm light to the rooms, some with views across the valley or towards the ancient cathedral that crowns St. Cirq Lapopie.
There are three full bathrooms, some rooms with their own added wash basins too. In two of the main bathrooms you'll find a large vintage porcelain tub, both designed for easy luxuriating after a day of seeing sights, one bathtub situated to provide expansive views through an upper window without compromising privacy.
More specifically: this is a beautiful characteristic stone house, with many sunlit windows, comprising three main floors, with a stairway up to a large, fully-finished attic.
The house design includes a large bedroom and a full bathroom with separate shower and tub on the top floor, as well as a separate study. And in the attic room above, there are two good-sized bedrooms, with a bathroom, and with expansive views from several windows. The layout makes it a comfortable stay for a couple or small family, but it has been designed to provide plenty of room for as many as four couples, or two families, or a small reunion or other gathering.
Each floor, including the finished attic, is more than 600 square feet (approximately 15 x 44 feet, in medieval style), totaling more than 2400 feet of living space, with 9 and 10 foot ceilings. The main floor comprises an open kitchen/dining and living area: the kitchen designed for home and gourmet cooking, a large table for dining with family and friends, and a cozy living room with amazing light from the huge arch window, and a fireplace for extra warmth on cool fall evenings.
The garden level floor (with its own door for exiting to the public garden and stone picnic table out back) has two comfortable bedrooms and a full bathroom. On the same floor there is also a washer/dryer and extra storage for bikes, barbecue and other necessities!
There are books and games, a television, telephone, and internet service. Towels, bedding, all the basic necessities are provided. There are local stores nearby for any other requirements.
|Further details outdoors|
Along a narrow alleyway beside the house and just behind it, you'll find a public garden, mostly overlooked by folks walking the main street. It has an old stone picnic table, views across the valley, and there is even a hidden pathway that takes you down to the river.
This is a bicycle rider's paradise. Cyclists wanting an easy cruise can simply ride down the hill and pedal on flat roads up and down the Lot and Cele river valleys, below limestone cliffs, looking over tobacco fields, sunflowers, medieval villages, dominating chateaus, and centuries-old mills.
Cyclists wanting a challenge can climb out of the valleys up 8-10% grades for fabulous hillside views, beautiful black-oak woods, and quiet pastures. The village is in the Midi-Pyrenees, which accurately describes the ascents — mostly moderate grades of 500-1000 feet (175-300 metres). The road from the river to the top of the village is a 10% climb and perfect for hill repeats.
Rather than pay the high fees of some bike touring companies, just ask us to arrange some bicycle day trips during your stay. We can wind you through some quaint villages and glorious terrain, to castles and vineyards, and beyond.
There are a number of neighboring towns in which one can rent bicycles. Aficionados may decide to bring their own bikes. Either way, you'll have a blast.
At the village beach there are canoes for rent, but a more extensive operation exists just below the village on the river. You willl be dropped off further up river for a wonderful two to three hour journey back. Bring a picnic lunch if you wish, and feel free to take a dip in the river.
There are also boat tours that can be arranged up and down the river. Wonderful full and half-day trips provide a marvelous sense of this region's expansive beauty Let us know and we'll help with the arrangements.
For swimmers, sunbathers, and general frolicking, the village maintains a friendly sandy beach along the river. The water is clean and refreshing, and the surrounding terrain is lovely.
On summer days there is even a lifeguard on duty. Overlooking the beach, with chairs and views, is an open snack bar, also serving beer and wine.
Although this a place where visitors come from all over the world, it is off the beaten path. Mornings are quiet and peaceful and by late afternoon the town is quiet enough that you can pull chairs out onto the street and watch the sunset while toasting your good fortune with a glass of a delicious local wine.
Our weekly rate (between April and October) is: $2250 USD/1725 Euros. $500 discount for 2nd week
The house is typically rented from Saturday to Saturday. (Check-in 4PM to 6PM, check-out by 10AM)
It is also available off season for monthly or longer-term rentals at very reasonable rates. The village is VERY quiet off season--ideal for writing, painting, contemplating, relaxing.
We accept payment by PayPal, bank transfer, or check. Note: we can only offer refunds if the house is re-rented. You are responsible for bank transfer fees (if any) and PayPal fees (usually around 3%).
There is a surcharge of 0.15 Euro/KWH for electricity beyond 100KWH allowance, but average use is most typically below 100KWH.
Rates are subject to change without notice.
Please contact us if you have any questions, special needs, or concerns. Our goal is to help you have an absolutely wonderful vacation. firstname.lastname@example.org or 617 608-1404 (USA)
The Midi-Pyrenees region
Nestled in the Dordogne-Lot region of southern France, St. Cirq Lapopie is surrounded by the lush green hills, the fertile river valley, the sunflower fields, the fruit orchards, the vineyards, the canyons, everything that characterizes the magnificent French countryside.
Yet it is a wordly region too, with nearby towns and villages, of markets and museums, of ancient caves and modern wineries, of medieval cathedrals and haute cuisine-- too many day, and half-day, trips for a week's stay, let alone a month.
This region, officially named Le Quercy, is a part of France which even the French are only beginning to discover. There is a host of historic sites to visit, castles to explore and museums to instruct – always with a fine restaurant or two within easy reach.
The village is on the edge of Le Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy. The Quercy probably derives its name from the Latin for “oaks”, which cover the local hills in rich, spindly profusion.
It is a region of outstanding scenery, renowned for its rural calm, slumbering, medieval towns and fine cuisine, including the excellent, dark Appellation Contrôlée wines.
The nearest town is Cahors, one of only 130 sites across France recognized by the French government as "une Ville d'Art et du Histoire" for the importance and quality of its heritage.
West of Cahors, there are flat, valley-bottom vineyards set in dark, rich, red soil. To the northwest, one finds a gently undulating countryside of the Bouriane.
The region’s landscape is diverse and varied. Near the village there are dramatic cliffs, prehistoric caves and rocky plateaux (causses). In the fields, one may often see ancient bories which are sheep herders' stone huts.
The climate, too, is varied. Long summer months are hot and dry. Spring is early and short in March and April. Evenings are cool. In winter, the days are often sunny, but night-time temperatures can drop to below freezing.
If you want to know more – visit the Lot Tourism, Quercy Tourism or CultureVulture.net websites.
Saint Cirq Lapopie
In addition to visiting museums, castles, and historic sites, sunbathing on the sandy beach, swimming, bicycling, castle-gazing, canoeing, cave exploring, wandering the galleries and shops of the village (all the activities mentioned earlier), here are some additional pleasures of the region:
Wine and Vineyards--
Cahors is one of the oldest wine-growing areas in France. In the Middle Ages the region produced far more wine – and of a higher quality – than neighboring Bordeaux. Cahors exported more than three times its current annual production to England alone. At the end of the 19th C, the phylloxera completely wiped out most local wine-growers.
Luckily, new vines were imported and since the 1970s, Cahors has once more become established as a fine quality wine. It is generally much less expensive than its better-known Bordeaux neighbor. It is the only region in France which has successfully grown the Malbec grape. The Black Wine of Cahors has its own Appellation Controllee.
Listed below are a few wineries we like. At home, you'll find a map to all the wineries in region. In all cases please try to make an appointment before you go. Please Note: You are not in Napa Valley. You will likely be taking a family member away from work to serve you a taste. Please be respectful of their time.
Le Clos d’un Jour, where they have started storing wine in earthen jars Veronique et Stephane Azemar, Duravel, email: email@example.com
Olt – Cave Cooperative Les COTES D’OLT SUD – try “Impernal.” www.cotesold.com – When on the Agen-Cahors road (D653), follow ‘Floressas‘ sign just after Tournon d’Agenais; between small towns Saux and St MatrÃ©.
Chateau Chambert, Floressas Tel: +33 (0) 5 65 31 95 75, Monday to Friday: 9:00AM – 12:30PM and 2:00PM – 5:30PM, Saturday: 10:00 – 12:30PM and 3:00PM – 5:30PM
Clos de Gamot Winery http://www.snooth.com/winery/clos-de-gamot/#ixzz128CV0C2o
Chateau les Croisilles –http://www.chateaulescroisille.fr/AN/portrait.html
Families of the Vine Wine Tour.
An excellent book to read before you visit is Families of the Vine, a well-written non-fiction account of three family wineries nearby.
The author follows the wine’s path from vine to barrel to glass. He captures a way of life that existed before global marketing. He shows the winemakers in the family-owned, family-run vineyards and describes the pathos of the harvest during the drought-ridden year of 2003. He even explains how barrels are made.
Laced throughout this solid, affectionate portrait are unusual insights showing us that a knowledge of wine really can’t be imparted by experts. It takes firsthand experience and time.
In Families of the Vine, we are introduced to Yves & Martine Jouffreau-Hermann of Clos de Gamot, a vineyard in Prayssac dating from 1610 and whose signature wine is considered the quintessential expression of red Cahors. http://www.epicuria.fr/clos-de-gamot and Read more: http://www.snooth.com/winery/clos-de-gamot/#ixzz128CV0C2o
Jean-Luc Baldès of Clos Triguedina in Puy-l’Eveque. He is the prodigal son who returned to the family vineyard after studying in Bordeaux. http://www.thewinedoctor.com/southwest/triguedina.shtml
Finally, there is Philippe Bernède of Clos la Coutale in Vire sur Lot. He favors fast cars and producing a more international (read: softer, fruitier) style of red wine. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org andhttp://closlacoutale.com/contact_en.html
Design your own Wine Tour in Lot with our comprehensive list and map of wineries.
To Market, to Market:
Ah, the pleasures of shopping for fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, and wines too, in open markets and from the very folks who produced the stuff.
There are excellent markets all across the Valley; just remember to go early as most markets (with some exceptions) are over by noon.
If you have arrived on a Saturday, we highly recommend that the following morning of Sunday, you go to the market in Limogne. Markets close by noon, so go early. Limogne is a 20 minute drive East. The market is small and sweet. Load up on fresh, organic produce for your evening meal.
If you enjoyed Limogne, then on Thursday we recommend you go to the larger market in the town square in front of the church in Villefranche de Rouergue. Park on the street or in one of the city’s public lots. Then, to find it, follow the direction of the people who are walking with empty baskets and carts. It is scenic and fun. The nuns set up a stand in front of the church to sell baked goods. Sometimes they are making crepes (hint: you may not want to buy anything from them, as they are not very good cooks!).
The following markets are also nearby and wonderful, if you have time:
Cahors – Wednesday and Saturday
Sarlat – Saturday
San Antonin Noble Val - Sunday
The Local Cuisine:
The region is renowned for its foie gras, truffles, saffron and walnuts. Duck dishes, such as magrets de canard (duck breast) or confit de canard (duck simmered and then preserved in its own fat) appear frequently on local menus, as do salads with warmed cabecou cheese and Quercy lamb.
Truffles are considered the “Black Diamonds” of France.The largest truffle market in SW France is 20 miles away in a traditional open-air market in Lalbenque. Held every Tuesday between December 1st and March 31st, it is quite a scene complete with strolling gendarmes
and much secrecy.
Warm rounds of soft, goats’ milk cheese called “Cabecou” are often used to make a delicious salad, one of the region's specialties. The chef places the cheese on top of soft, organic, field greens which are dressed with vinaigrette, then drizzles honey a tiny bit of over the cheese.
You can buy Cabecou in any market and make the same salad yourself… or spread the mild white cheese on warm bread, instead of butter. It also can be used as shown below, with roasted eggplant, peppers and arugla.
Saffron’s aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods.
It is the most priceless spice in the world, as each thread must be hand harvested from the crocus flower and each flower only contains a few threads. The saffron produced in SW France is considered of a “boutique variety.” Often used to flavor rice, the spice is shown below with regional figs.
Walnuts abound in every menu. Vin de Noix or walnut liqueur is part of the famous, often homeade, aperitif called Fenelon (made with Cahors wine, and equal parts of Creme de Cassis and Vin de Noix added). After mixing, it must laid down to rest for a year or so. You will be able to find it, and the base to make it, for sale in the Musee du Vin. Ask Emilie.
Fishing-- The River Lot is one of the finest carp and catfish rivers in France. It is famous for its record carp (approaching 30 lbs!). Anglers may fish at night all year. Note, to preserve fish populations the Lot is a ”no kill” river.
Golf-- Whether you are a seasoned golfer or have never played, golfing in the Lot is an unparalleled experience. Lush green fairways await you (as do carefully groomed bunkers) at several beautiful courses near Maison Coeur-de-Lion. You can rent golf clubs at some courses and at several golf shops in the area. Be sure to call ahead to reserve tee times. Some recommended courses:
Roucous (par 71, 5535 yds) – 25 miles
Montal (par 54, 3400 yds) – 26 miles
Souillac (par 70, 5100 yds) – 31 miles
Horseback riding - This is wonderful riding country, and several stables offer a variety of riding packages, by the hour or by the day-- even overnight!
The nearest stables are about 15 minutes away in Cabrerets.
Ferme Equestre in Pech Merle near Cabrerets (Tel.: 0565 24 76 51 or 0611 93 25 23)
Pompon-Club, “Champ Grand,” (Tel. : 0565 31 78 00 or 0611 59 90 39) in Eslauzels
Chez Richard et Nanou in Belfort du Quercy, Near Lalbenque, you can hire a horse by the hour or the day, or take a “Rando-bivouac,” a guided afternoon ride followed by a night out under canvas(Tel. : 0565 24 72 48).
“Spelunking” or cave diving – The region is one of the greatest spelunking areas in the world. The local company who organizes the adventure is Kalapca, located at the bottom of the village by the river. (tel.: 0565 30 29 51).
Boating – You may take a ride on a pleasure boat from Bouzies or from Cahors. You may also rent your own boat for a day or a few hours. The 40 miles of river between Luzech and St. Cirq Lapopie has recently been reopened to pleasure boats.
Lot Navigation in Bouziès (Tel.:0565 30 24 41)
Baboumarine in Cahors (Tel.: 0565 30 08 99)
Crown Blue Line in Douelle (Tel.: 0565 20 08 79)
Climbing – those limestone cliffs attract climbers of all levels and all ages! Ask Kapalca.
Concerts – Cahors hosts the Festival of the Blues every July. If you prefer classical music, there is the famous festival in St. Céré and also one in Limogne every summer.
Tennis - There is a court in Tour de Faure which may be rented by the hour. Inquire at the village store.
Ballooning – there is a hot air balloon competition in September in Rocamador.
Birdwatching --St. Cirq Lapopie appeals to ornithologists. Since spraying is prohibited, more birds are present than you may be accustomed to hearing. A list of birds in the area is available online.
Take A Hike
There are fine walks from and near the village, many of which offer spectacular views over the Lot River and valley. Especially fun is the walk along the old river Tow Path below the village.
Check out the internet for any number of excellent walks.
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28 Oct 2013
"This might be the best vacation you'll ever have."
I had the great fortune to stay in Coeur de Lion in October 2013. The house is magnificent and the location is unparalleled for beauty and medieval charm. The owner has brought it back from a ruin to a beautiful, tasteful home with a lot of “wow.” Coeur de Lion shows thoughtful attention to the details of its ancient heritage while embedding all the modern comforts.
I am particular about vacation houses. I want to feel at home, I want to feel I've discovered something very special, and I want to feel like the owner cares about my comfort and enjoyment. I found sleeping in the bed with antique French linen sheets to be a dream. The bathrooms are a welcome luxury for the weary traveler – lovely bath salts and heated towel racks! The Nespresso machine in the kitchen provides a lovely crema to top off a delicious cup of coffee. The kitchen provides the most sophisticated cooks with all the tools and features needed for gourmet cooking. I would love to come back for the cooking classes they plan to offer (please let me know!).
The location in the village is excellent. With a simple walk to the top of the village through 15th c. France, you can find morning croissants or go out for dinner. There are many wonderful restaurants within a few blocks. The regional food abounds with rich flavors of duck, foie gras, truffles, walnuts and local cheeses. Local markets are a shopper's paradise for anything from regional Malbec wines to local, fresh organic produce to cook a stellar meal at home.
Charles and Cathy are hosts who know how to exceed expectations. Many guests want support for planning logistics, as well as access to information and advice on activities and experiences that only an insider knows. They provide all that and more. I cannot think of any improvements to suggest. Coeur de Lion is definitely a home I would want to stay in again. I wished I never had to leave.
What a wonderful review. We are so glad you had such a great time. It is a fantastic village, and now that the renovations are completed, it is a fantastic house. Next time, come for two or three weeks-- we'll show you all the stuff to do that is impossible to squeeze into one week, much of it stuff you don't have to leave the village to discover.
We really do look forward to seeing you again. Thank you.
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