A stunning village perched on a cliff in the bountiful Lot.
The Lot department, once of Midi Pyrenees and now of Occitanie is a place of great natural beauty.
Around the Lot valley there are spectacular caves to visit including the Gouffre de Padirac and the Grotte de Pech Merle. The main city is Cahors, which was once the capital of a region known as the Quercy.
The village of Rocamadour has been a renowned Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle-Ages.
Perched over the river Alzou in the Causses du Quercy Regional Nature Park stands the sacred village built on 3 successive levels.
A place of legend and history, it is one of France’s most important tourist destinations and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Centuries of pilgrims have climbed the 216 steps to worship the statue of the Black Madonna.
As an act of penance in previous times, pilgrims would do the climb on their knees.
These days The Great Stairway is best walked in comfy shoes early in the morning avoiding the crowds, working up an appetite for brekkie. I didn’t see anyone on their knees but there were people worshipping along the way.
There are two lifts as well for people who may find the path difficult.
In 1166 a tomb was being dug for a local villager when the intact body of St. Amadour came to light under the floor of the chapel, where the Sanctuary is now. The discovery turned Rocamadour into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in medieval Christendom.
Roland’s Sword (Durandal) – Charlemagne and his nephew Roland went on the route to Santiago de Compostela. This sword that allegedly belonged to Roland is lodged in the rock above the church.
The Sanctuary made of 8 chapels is built around a central courtyard.
Overhead, the 9th century iron bell is said to ring on its own when, somewhere in the world, the Virgin performs a miracle.
Rocamadour’s stunning castle was built to defend the village’s Sanctuary in the Middle Ages.
Only the castle’s ramparts are open to visitors but the viewpoints over the Alzou Valley are gorgeous. It is no picnic for people who suffer from vertigo though.
Legends and miracles aside this is an extraordinary place to see and visit. Something tells me that it gets very busy during the high season. As luck would have it on this warm weekend in April, despite the school holidays being in full swing, there were very few people out and about early in the morning.
There are loads of restaurants and hotels; we were very happy with our choices (contact me for details).
There are lots of things to do around Rocamadour apart from marvel at her beauty.
There is Parc Durandal www.parcdurandal.com a medieval themed equestrian park.
The rivers around here are geared up for kayaking and canoeing which is a great way to take in the breathtaking scenery.
If you are visiting in the autumn, every last weekend of September, there is a Hot Air Balloon Festival “Les Montgolfiades”.
The prehistoric Grotte des Merveilles is nearby but we opted to venture a bit further to the amazing Grotte de Pech Merle, which was an incredible experience.
I hope that you have enjoyed this post about Rocamadour, follow me to keep up with me on my travels around beautiful Occitanie.
Next stop the Gouffre de Padirac……………..à bientôt Christina