Tuesday, 27 May 2008


Rocamadour RocamadourCitdelclose

For me Rocamadour is a pretty special place as it is just around the corner from Gramat, where I lived briefly some 20 years ago and where I first fell in love with France. 

Both Rocamadour and Gramat are in the Lot département, which borders the Dordogne.  It is only 70km from our home but I have been holding out to visit in the Spring as all my previous visits had been in Winter.  I have added Rocamadour to our adventure map so you can see where it "fits in".

Rocamadour is probably the original tourist trap, attracting visitors for its beautiful setting and historical monuments. Religious pilgrims have been visiting its sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary for centuries.

It was good to be able take Serene, our visitor from Auckland, somewhere where we hadn't yet been ourselves (at least not recently).  The lower village caters almost exclusively to the tourist trade and has probably been this way for the last few hundred years. We steered cleared of the many restaurants and eventually had a simple but adequate café lunch narrowly missing a heavy downpour of rain.  After lunch the sky cleared and we had no time for shopping (damn) as we quickly headed up the cliff before our luck with the weather changed.

We trekked up the countless steps from the lower village up through the medieval complex half-way the cliff face. There are a few religious relics and things to see which are best described here on Wikipedia.  From there we took the windy path up to the château at the top of the cliff. This was built in the middle ages to defend the various sanctuaries below.

The journey out and back was also impressive, we took the back-roads using Serene's Tom-Tom portable GPS to navigate.  I was reasonable impressed with this device but although it was very accurate I still prefer to navigate by map (or as Ange would say: take the seen-it route, i.e. "Don - We've seen that - you're driving in circles").