Enchanting though the perched medieval village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie may be, overlooking the meandering Lot River and flanked by green and tan ribbons of corn, tobacco and wheat, its tremendous popularity with tourists might lead you to assume that its restaurants wouldn’t make much of an effort. Instead, this spectacular hilltop village in the south-central département of the Lot has several excellent tables, most notably the lovely Auberge du Sombral. In fact, based on several meals there this past summer, I’d suggest it as a perfect gastronomic retort to those naysayers who insist that France’s best gastronomic days are behind it. Consider my last meal, a €24 menu that was very happily consumed on the terrace overlooking the village’s main square: a flaky pastry feuilleté filled with cèpe mushrooms in Roquefort sauce, confit de canard with garlicky sautéed potatoes, baked Rocamadour cheese with walnut-oil-dressed salad, and roasted figs with vanilla ice cream. The exemplary quality of the meal, delicious from start to finish, is the sort of souvenir I most prize during my travels in France.
Place Sombral, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, 05.65.31.26.08. €35 per person without wine
Originally published in the October 2009 issue of France Today