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André Breton and the Surrealists

André BRETON, leader of the surrealist movement stayed at Saint-Cirq Lapopie during the last summers of his life after fallling in love with the village.


A citizen of the world in Saint-Cirq Lapopie

André Breton house in Saint-Cirq Lapopie

Born in Normandy, and having travelled the world in the course of his meetings and research, André Breton considered himself a "Global Citizen". This is also what led him to Saint-Cirq Lapopie in June 1950. Alongside his friend, Robert Sarazac he came to inaugurate the first Cahors "Road Without Borders". Thirty kilometres away, St. Cirq Lapopie had been busy preparing one of the milestones for this project. Breton himself best tells the story in his guestbook entry with the association "Friends of Saint-Cirq" a year later, when he purchased the former Auberge des Mariniers, at the foot of the hill:

"It was in June 1950, as we rode by car after inaugurating the first World "road to hope" that I first saw Saint-Cirq, blazing with Bengal Fire, like an impossible rose in the night.

It was love at first sight and the next morning, I returned to the temptation, to the heart of this flower - it had ceased to flame, but remained intact.

Above any other place in the world, in America or Europe, Saint-Cirq is my one place of enchantment: the one fixed forever. I stopped wanting to be elsewhere. I think the secret of its poetry resembles that of some of Rimbaud's Illuminations, it is the product of the rarest in perfect balance. The list of its charms is very far from exhausting the secret... each day on awakening, it seems to me that I open the window onto the richest of hours, not only of art but of nature and life" (September 3, 1951).


What a tribute, from one who defined himself as a lost seeker of the "golden times"! He spent all his summers in St Cirq Lapopie until his death in September 1966.

Unfortunately the house is not open to the public as it was bought by private individuals. But it still rings to the memory of André Breton, because the new owners are artists who now live and work among many objects that once belonged to him.


André Breton, originator and leader of the surrealists

André Breton, leader of the surrealismOriginally inspired by the Dada movement with Tristan Tzara, André Breton, marked the end of that period when he founded Surrealism. He wrote the "Manifesto of Surrealism" in 1924, offering a definition of a new poetic writing which tried to liberate itself from received styles, promoting "pure psychic automatism by which one proposes to express, either verbally or otherwise, the actual functioning of thought, dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, outside of any aesthetic or moral concern" He advocated a writing code free of moral constraints and the weight of reason in the creative process.

Its aim was to abolish the borders between reality and fantasy: "the imagination, this is what tends to become real", he wrote.

The surrealist movement marked currents of thought for the next 50 years through great artists such as authors Louis Arago, Paul Eluard, Robert Desnos, Antonin Artaud and Georges Bataille , along with Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Juan Miro and many others in the visual arts.

André Breton wrote that "The greatest weakness of contemporary thought seems to lie in the extravagant overstatement of the known versus what is left to know." So, why not push the boundaries of what you know and come and discover Saint-Cirq Lapopie, this most beautiful and highly reccommended village!


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