Planning a holiday is like writing a shopping list. You know instinctively which places you’ll return to – they are like the bread aisle in the supermarket.
It’s the special offers that will shape your break and make it different.
With my next trip to the south west of France just three months away, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie could turn out to be the thing that stands out from the holiday – my buy-one-get-one-free deal, if you like.
The village is situated in the Lot département and is classed among France’s prettiest. It’s further east than I have ventured before but it looks worth the excursion.
The village is described as the ‘pearl in the Lot valley’. It perches on a cliff overlooking the river and dates back to the 12th century. Its medieval architecture, including a fortified church and houses with distinctively tiled roofs, are popular with tourists.
Interestingly, the village has just 200 permanent residents in summer, and less than a quarter of that in winter.
Part of its appeal is the fact that it offers visitors a chance to turn back the clock.
However, that’s also the inherent danger in being one of France’s plus beaux villages. It is tempting to pretend that the present doesn’t exist. In Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, all TV aerials and power cables have been hidden away and there is no new housing whatsoever. The 21st century has been banished – but, fortunately, so have any shops selling tourist tat.
That means my search for an Intermarché, an E.Leclerc or an Auchan will be in vain – so perhaps my shopping list will be unusually short.