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Saint James' Way (Santiago de Compostela)

The Lot départment opens its byways to pilgrims following the Way of St. James (Santiago de Compostela) from all over Europe. Around Saint-Cirq Lapopie along the old Roman road or the alternative path in the valley, natural beauty of all kinds will speed you on your pilgrimage.

UNESCO world heritage listed

The Way of Saint James crosses France by four different routes:

- One departing from Vezelay

- A second from Le Puy en Velay

- Another from Paris

- And finally from Arles

They all lead to Compostela in Spain (Galicia), the burial place of St James (Saint-Jacques in French, Santiago in Spanish - all signposts in France referring to St James' Way are marked "Chemin de Saint Jacques").

Each year thousands of pilgrims travel this road, over the different routes. Each has his or her own motivation: religion, spirituality, sharing with nature or sharing simply through the discovery of places, people and landscapes. On foot, horseback, mountain bike or bicycle, there is always a special moment to connect with a wider world.

The most celebrated of the four French paths is the one beginning at Le Puy en Velay, the "via podiensis", which crosses the Lot between Conques and Moissac. It is a UNESCO listed feature and mainly follows the grand hiking route n° GR65.

To discover the territory of Saint-Cirq Lapopie, two routes are possible between the plateau of the Causse de Limogne and the Célé valley. The pilgrim must decide which path to take on arriving at Figeac - and it is very difficult to choose!

 

Causse de Limogne - the Roman road

Causses du Quercy

On the Causse de Limogne, you will follow the old Roman road before joining the Lot valley towards Cahors. You move between dolmens, stone walls, pigeon lofts and dry stone caselles, with the flavours of the country around you - saffron and truffles among them. If you happen to pass through the church square one Friday morning between December and March you will experience an exceptional tradition - observing the customs of the sale of the melanosporum truffle - the best there is!

With 38 dolmens on the Causse de Limogne, this is one of the main centres of megalithic construction in France. Caselles and gariottes (dry stone huts) also dot the landscape everywhere you look.

 

The Célé valley - a magnificent alternative

If your choice takes you on Cele Valley variant of the path, expect to be distracted by the magnificence of the landscape. In the intimacy of nature, close to the wildlife, you will find travelling companions such as deer, squirrels, eagles or kites - the ecosystem in this valley is fabulously well-preserved. The Grand Hiking Trail n° GR651, overlooking the river, often reveals almost forgotten but always welcoming little villages.

The Grotte du Pech Merle
is one of the artistic cradles of humanity, housing paintings dating from up to 24,000 years ago. It is not far from the track and deserves a visit (especially off season) to see the amazing artwork of our ancestors.

Whchever route you take be sure to make the short detour to St. Cirq Lapopie - it is one of the most beautiful villages in France and will enrich your pilgrimage and add an unforgettable stop to your journey.