Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Rocamadour is on the eastern edge of the area, across the border from the Dordogne into the Lot department. Each year the small village of Rocamadour (population around 600), in the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy, receives more than a million visitors. Why so popular?

Firstly because Rocamadour is an important pilgrimage destination, and has been for 1000 years. Built on the site of a shrine to a Madonna, the shrine became famous for its healing powers, and soon became a stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Campostela

Second reason is because of the beautiful and dramatic setting of the village, climbing up a cliff side.

Things to do and see in Rocamadour

Rocamadour has several highlights well worth exploring, although it is the 'village as a perfect unity' which is really the big attraction.

The village is essentially just one paved street, lined with medieval houses, several of which are notable and many of which are impressive, and passing through stone fortified gateways - the Porte du Figuier and the Porte Salmon are the two main gateways.

The Grand Escalier (216 steps, once climbed by pilgrims on their knees) leads from the village to the sanctuaries above, and L'Hospitalet, with its views of the old town. If you can persuade your children to climb all the way up the Grand Escalier without complaining you are doing a fine job!

The sanctuaries include the Chapelle Notre Dame - home to the Black Madonna - and the basilica Saint-Sauveur; the Saint-Michel chapel; the Palace of the Bishops (Palais des Eveques) and three chapels.

If you still have some energy (or have taken the lift rather than walked) continue onwards and upwards along the shady path towards L'Hospitalet, final destination for the pilgrims and a great place for some stunning views across thee region.

It has to be admitted that a million visitors a year to a small village means that Rocamadour is very often over busy, and you should visit early morning or out of season if at all possible. But crowds or not, it remains unmissable if you are in this part of the Dordogne / Lot region.

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