“Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is perched on a cliff overlooking a meander of the Lot and is a masterpiece of medieval architecture.” This is an official description of the village by Les Plus Beaux Villages de France website and it couldn’t be more accurate. Throughout our scout, we may not have seen a village with more extraordinary surroundings and vistas. The views from Saint-Cirq-Lapopie of the Lot River and the valley beyond are breathtaking. Very little else in the Midi-Pyrénées region, or in all of France for that matter, matches the beauty of this magnificent location.
We arrived in the afternoon and checked into the Hôtel Le Saint Cirq across the river. From there, you look straight up at the village and the fortified Church of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie that anchors it. Built only seven years ago, the hotel has 25 spacious rooms, many with full kitchens, and could accommodate the film’s entire French cast and much of its crew. A five minute drive from the hotel puts you at the top of the village and it’s a walk up and down some fairly steep streets and alleyways from there on. In town, you’ll find many historic stone houses with half-timbered fronts dating back to the 13th Century. Over the years, several notable artists have come to work in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, including the Post-Impressionist painter Henri Martin and Surrealism founder and poet André Breton. Breton spent the last fifteen summers of his life in the village.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the Midi-Pyrénées film commission representative Marion Beschet, who immediately introduced us to the Honorable Mayor Gilles Hardeveld, who brought us to his office where we discussed the film and the possibility of shooting in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Coincidentally, his wife owns the lovely Auberge du Sombral, a bed and breakfast across the square and would be open to housing a film crew in the off season of September or October, which would work well for our production. Marion escorted us through the village, pointing out several houses and shop fronts that might fit our story. A wedding had just wrapped at the church and we were there to see the bride and groom driven up the hill on an electric cart to their reception as everyone in the village cheered them on. There is no dearth of cafés and eateries here, and Marion took us to lunch at such a place at the end of our visit.
I would rank Saint-Cirq-Lapopie high on the list of potential locations for The Camera. Although a prime tourist destination, the village calms down by summer’s end and fewer than 100 inhabitants remain in town throughout the fall and winter. We would have the full cooperation of the mayor and local businesses, and there isn’t a bad camera angle anywhere you look. Hotel accommodations in the area are promising and we could pretty much own the streets where we would be filming. The village has a remote feeling that fits the story of our movie quite well. Most of all, it’s entirely cinematic.