Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and the Cuzals farm museum

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Sunday, June 9, 2013

We woke up and headed in to St. Cirq along the canal path, passing a few boats on our way. There was a lock just before we turned off to go uphill in to town and a neat old millhouse. We made our way up to the town and had wonderful views of it perched on the cliff. The town itself was built of stone and all the roses were in bloom which looked amazing. There were lots of other flowers too and we enjoyed our walk up through the main street leading to the viewpoint at the top. We stopped off in a couple of shops to check out the local woodwork and other touristy knickknacks. The town was fairly busy with hikers and weekend tourists, but it didn't feel too crowded. At the top we had excellent views of the Lot valley below and could see a boat approaching the lock we had passed earlier. We enjoyed the view all around and eventually made our way back down to the square below to continue wandering through the town. We popped in to a few shops and headed in to one that had games made out of wood. Anoop was very excited to see a Carom board similar to the ones you get in India; this one was a bit smaller and had a faster surface, but was otherwise the same. As he was admiring it, the owner of the shop who had made all the wooden games asked if he played. Since he did, they got right to it and started a game which lasted about 10 minutes. Anoop lost and thought he’d better brush up on his skills when he is in India next time. We then walked back to camp and had a quick lunch so that we could be at the Cuzals farm museum when it opened at 2:00.

We had a nice drive over to Cuzals passing right alongside the cliffs and through some rock tunnels. We were there right as they opened which was great since they were only open for four hours and there was a lot to see. They gave us a list of the animations (demonstrations) that were taking place that day which helped us organize our time a bit and decide which buildings to visit first. Our first stop was the well section which had various types of wells on display. When we had visited as kids, there was a donkey walking in a circle and she was attached to the well mechanism which in turn pumped the water. Since she wasn’t out today, Mom modeled how the well worked and pumped some water quite nicely. There was a building which had models of how the water was brought in to the various farms. We then headed over to see the thatched house and barn which were quite neat and similar to the ones we had seen in Arnhem in the Netherlands. The house had living quarters on one side centered around the fire and animal quarters on the other side with stalls for goats and areas for chickens. We then walked up to the shepherd huts which are built out of stones without any mortar; inside it was neat to look up at the roof and see the stones stacked against each other. There was an interesting exhibit on how the farmers re-used or mended everything they could with lots of items on display that had been given a new purpose. We also looked at an exhibit on farming in the area with lots of old pictures and personal accounts from people who had lived on them when it was very rustic. It was then time for the flour grinding demonstration so we walked over to where the mill is and where they have a bakery in the peak tourist season. The guy fired up the machine which had belts which then ran the grindstone and milled the flour. It was really neat to see it all in operation and to get to taste the flour afterwards. There was a lot of flour floating around in the air! Afterwards we had a look at the various types of stone walls built in the area, the tractors and pigeon keeps. We then headed over to the weaving demonstration where the lady explained how they would have woven items for the house or clothing if they were poorer farmers. We also visited another farmhouse, this one much larger than the thatched one we saw earlier. This farmhouse had a couple of rooms and a much larger living area. Once we finished there we headed back to the car and just as we arrived, the sky opened up and it just poured.

We drove back to camp slowly since the rain was pelting down and passed by some poor cyclists hiding out under a tiny overhang. We arrived in camp and all of us just sat in the van facing forward waiting for it to let up a bit. Finally it let up in time for everyone to have showers and get ready for dinner. We then drove in to St. Cirq since it was still pouring and we didn’t want to get soaked on our way in. We arrived at the restaurant, very glad that we had asked for a table indoors and not on the patio. To start, Mom, Anoop and I had a salad with walnuts and smoked duck breast which was the best we’d had yet. James had a plate of smoked trout which was also delicious. For our mains, Anoop and I had the duck confit with mushroom sauce; it came with potato, cooked tomatoes with a curry flavour and a pumpkin something that was just amazing. Mom and James opted for the cassoulet which came with a sausage, small porkchop and a duck drumstick. For dessert Mom and Anoop had the apple pie with salted caramel butter and James & I opted for the crème brulée which was the best I had eaten so far. All of the food was amazing! After we had paid the bill and were about to get ready to go, the server said just one moment and returned with a digestif for everyone. This meant that Mom & Anoop got two each! It was a green apple liqueur from Spain and smelled great – I did try a little sip and thought that it wasn’t too bad. We thanked them for a wonderful meal and then headed back up through town to the car. We returned to camp thoroughly satisfied and headed off to bed shortly thereafter.
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