Are you visiting Figeac for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in the city of Champollion. Founded in 830 around a Benedictine abbey, the medieval town of Figeac became prosperous in the 13th century thanks to its strategic central position which encouraged agriculture and trade. Bring your walking shoes when you come to Figeac!
The “Musée Champollion
When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is The “Musée Champollion – les Ecritures du Monde.” I also take them to the church of Notre-Dame –du-Puy, for the stunning view overlooking the city and to walk down the narrow, cobbled medieval streets.
When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is the Valley of Célé, passing by Figeac, and following the river bordered by tall cliffs through charming villages.
Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit the outdoor leisure center of Domaine the Surgié, with playgrounds, swimming pool and green lawns along the riverbanks.
French food in Figeac
If you are looking for typical Figeac cuisine, I recommend tasting the saffron of Quercy. This famous golden spice, cultivated in the region around Figeac, gives its special flavor to pastry as well as meat, fish, sauces and drinks.
The best place to go for French pastry is Le Palais de Gourmands.
Looking for cheap food in Figeac? Go to “Cuisine pour Vous,” in front of the tourist office. Several restaurants in the medieval town also offer an inexpensive “Dish of the Day.”
For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to “La Dinée du Viguier” on 4 rue Boutaric or “La Cuisine du Marché” on 15 rue Clermont.
Place of Writings
When you come to Figeac, get your picture taken at the Place of Writings. The artist Jospeh Kosuth created this square with a contemporary Rosetta stone, an extra-large version on the ground, surrounded by medieval walls.
The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Les Terrasses du Puy.
The “Terrasses du Puy” in front of the church offers great views over the town. It is also a perfect place to watch or experience the annual Theater Festival of Figeac, or the free concerts on Tuesday evenings in summer.
In Figeac, outdoor enthusiasts will to want rent a canoe or a bike at the leisure center Domaine du Surgié.
The pilgrim road to Compostela passes by Figeac
Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the Way of Saint James: the pilgrim road to Compostela passes by Figeac, climbing up the hills overlooking the town.
If you are a museum lover, Figeac’s best museum is “Le Musée Champollion – Les Ecritures du Monde.” The Museum is located in the house where Jean-François Champollion, the famous decipherer of the hieroglyphics, was born. The museum tells you the history of the world’s writing systems.
Enjoy a night out on the town? For a night of dancing, go to “Le Baron.”
The “La Dépêche du Midi” will keep you posted on what’s happening in Figeac.
Figeac Saturday market
You can tell a lot about Figeac from visiting the lively market on Saturday morning, a favorite activity for locals, as well as tourists. You’ll find the market stalls all over town; at the market hall, on the Place Champollion and the Place Vival, and in the surrounding streets. The market is a great place to buy local food – and to finish your shopping with a glass of wine on the terrace of one of the cafés surrounding the market.
In the spring you might enjoy “Derrière le Hublot,” a street theater, circus – and music-festival, in Capdenac-Gare 8 km from Figeac.
In the summer visit The Theater Festival, the “Autour des Cordes” classical music festival and the evening markets where you can eat and buy local produce.
Town of art and history
Did you know that Figeac is known for its exceptional medieval heritage? Figeac belongs to France’s network of “Towns of art and history.” The oldest houses date back to the 12th century, many are from the 13th and 14th century, when Figeac was a flourishing town of rich merchants. Plan a visit to Figeac in the fall for “Les Journées du Patrimoine.” On the third weekend of September, several listed monuments open their doors to the public and offer free entrance and guided tours.
Come to Figeac for the festivals
Come to Figeac for the Festival “Graine the Moutards” in the winter for two weeks of cultural events for the children, with theater, cinema and guided tours.
Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked “La Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Pitié,”the tiny chapel, with beautiful carved wood panels, is inside the church Saint-Sauveur.
Just outside of Figeac you can visit Cajarc, its medieval streets descend towards the Lot River and the Georges Pompidou Centre of Contemporary Art. Have lunch at the gourmet restaurant “L’Allée des Vignes.”
The best way to see Figeac is to walk through the town following the signs with the keys! The brochure “The Keys to the City” is available at the Tourist Office, and if you travel with kids, ask for The Keys for Children. The keys help you discover the carvings on the facades, the secret courtyards, the elegant stairways and the open attics known as “solelhos.”
What are your favorite things to do in Fiqeac, France?
Curious about Figeac? Come discover this village, located in the southwest of France, for yourself.
If You Go:
Thanks to Atout France, Figeac Tourism Board and Midi-Pyrenees Regional Tourism Board for assistance with this post. All photos and YouTube video courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown, except top photo from Figeac Tourism Facebook page.