I love French mornings. That moment when we go downstairs to eat breakfast in a charming hotel, somewhere in the forest above breathtaking Rocamadour, or when we’re on our way to the fair in Moissac and we decide to stop at a local boulangerie and eat croissants, chocolatines or our beloved gourmands with vanilla pudding and chocolate. Or when we buy baguettes for breakfast in Paris. France is the best place to be in the mornings! I love to tear buttery croissants with my fingers, I easily fall in love with French cheeses, I allow myself some debauchery with pain perdu. Lately I fell in love with fresh croissants with local goat cheese and fig marmelade, and with classic citron tart with delicate meringue… I’ve been in love with the smell of French bread for a long time now… and I think I will never fall out of love with it!
French breakfasts taste the best in charming French towns, and we got to see plenty of them during our seven day long stay in Occitanie! Occitanie hasn’t functioned as an administrative region of France for that long – it started at the beginning of January 2016. Back in the day this region was known as Languedoc-Roussillon, so Occitanie is a little confusing. No matter what it’s called, it’s always amazing and magical – go and see the places we fell in love with… After going through our Facebook, we know you did too, cause we got a lot of messages from you saying that you wanted to see them with your own eyes.
Our absolute numer 1! This town looks exactly like ones in fairytales about princes and princesses, like ones in Shrek or Chocolat. Its incredible landscape can be seen while you’re still getting there, and all these charming streets – you can explore them while walking around the neighborhood. Beautiful view of the Lot river, the neighborhood, and a medieval climat. A must-see in Occitanie. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie was chosen favorite French town of 2012 in a TV contest and we’re not surprised! There are about 200 people living in town. It kind of feels like a big museum.
You should stay a night and spend an evening in town – even in June, it’s empty and peaceful during and after dinner – you can walk around, soak in all the views and travel in time.
We stayed at Le Saint-Cirq in the neighboring town/country called Tour de Faure. If it was in Poland, it would’ve gotten on our Magical Places list immediately. This time, we’re putting it on our list of magical places in France. It’s located off the beaten track, it has a swimming pool with a view of Saint Cirq Lapopie, beautifully designed houses and delicious breakfast. And that lavender! Magical! This small hotel can be found on Booking.com, right HERE.
While you’re in Saint Cirq Lapopie, go to Cahors too. After you’ve seen Saint Cirq, Cahors might seem like a pretty average town, but the streets in the old part of town have their own atmosphere and you won’t regret seeing beautiful Pont Valentre!
I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I’d been waiting to see Rocamadour more than Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. It’s famous for its incredible views and location. We couldn’t get enough of it while we were approaching it. We picked up all our phones, cameras and Maks’s tablet and started taking millions of pictures. Rocadamour is so beautiful, that it’s unreal. You should go eat some dinner at one of the restaurants with a view of surrounding rocks, and then climb up some rocky streets. Rocamadour reminded us of Dinan a little bit. We got to explore it two years ago during our first trip with Maks.
If you want to buy some souvenirs, go for foie gras, which is everyhwere! And try Rocamadour fermier cheese for breakfast – yummy. We stayed at a charming place called Hotel Les Escalargies, located off the beaten track. We had breakfast in a small forest, a swimming pool and an amazing view of the town! If you plan on staying a night in Rocadamour, that name will come in handy!
Auvillar is – just like all the other towns – a part of Tarn-et-Garonne region, and it’s called one of the most picturesque French towns. We got here during the Sunday siesta. Silence, peace, walking cats and us. Auvillar is famous mostly for a beautifully preserved square with houses from the 16th, 17th and 18th century, and for a picturesque “bazaar” from 1825… if that’s how you call a roof under which people used to sell stuff.
Auvillar has a beautiful view of the neighbourhood and the Garonne river. You should go to Eglise St Pierre too. Just like Moissac, Auvillar is one of those places where pilgrims stop on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
Moissac is a perfect place for a stop if you’re travelling through French Occitanie on a boat – I will tell you about how we did it, because the time we spent on a Le Boat boat was an amazing adventure, both for us and for Maks 🙂 Stay tuned!
The first thing we saw while approaching Moissac from the Castelsarrasin side, was a harbour full of boats and flowers. You can berth your boat here for a few hours or a night and explore the town. Moissac is small, so its listed buildings can be seen during a short walk, which has to end in a Benedictine monastery from the 11th century. The monastery has amazing ambulatories and it’s one of the best preserved examples of Roman art in the region. We loved the monastery’s architecture and atmosphere, and Maks loved a wipe-off coloring space in one of its rooms – he could feel like a painter from the past! 🙂
Nowadays Moissac is not just a stop for those travelling on boats, but also for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The town’s surroundings are also great for bike trips.
In the evening, you should go to one of the restaurants on the square by the monastery, try a pretty unique sausage that looks a bit like Polish potato sausage, stuffed with gibblets (Łukasz loved it!), eat foie gras toasts or just melt over a perfect, home-made lemon tart. De L’Abbaye is the best – and, as the name suggests, it’s right by the monastery. What about your morning? You need to go to the local fair at Place des Recollets. Don’t be daunted by typical bazaar stalls with clothes and lingerie. You will find tons of vegetables, fruits, French cheeses, olives, bread pâtés there too. Oh, and there boulangeries nearby too, so it all makes for an absolutely delicious breakfast or lunch on a boat or on the go!
Mountauban shouldn’t be on this list, because compared to all the tiny towns we mentioned above, it’s pretty big – it has about 50 thousand inhabitants. You should visit it anyway while travelling through Occitanie. It’s another pink city right next to Toulouse. It means that most of its houses, churches and buildings has this pink-ish color. One building stands out – it’s a cathedral. The ruler who had it built wanted it to have white elevation, which was supposed to show that he was higher than anybody else.
You should walk around the streets of Montauban, eat lunch (and finish it off with creme brulee) on one of its squares, feel the peaceful atmosphere of the town. We fell in love with a square – closed at each side, it reminded me of similar squares in San Sebastian and Bilbao. If you’re with kids, go on a trip through town on a small-guide train. It’s a perfect solution, especially if it’s hot 🙂
While you’re at it, you need to visit the most important pink city of Occitanie, which is Toulouse. We were on our way to Toulouse, which is where we started our trip (Ryanair from Modlin Airport :)). We’ll write more about Toulouse soon!
*We got to explore Occitanie and amazing French towns at the invitation of Occitania / Pyrenees-Mediterranean Tourist Board