We were in the neighborhood visiting the goat farm, so we decided to stop at one of the top ten cultural heritage sites in France.
I had always wanted to visit Rocamadour but, to be perfectly honest, it’s in the middle of nowhere. I guess that was the point for the hermit who, according to my Michelin guide, lived on the cliff and was called “roc amator” or “he who likes the rock” in the local patois.
From this vantage point, you can admire the whole ensemble: the castle at the top, the religious sanctuary midway down and the medieval village near the bottom.
Here’s a closer look at the castle. I assume this is the off season, because parking right next door was free. I expected this to be a much more expensive visit. In the end, we only paid 4 Euros to take the elevator from the medieval town back up to the car park. Such a deal!
From the castle, you can take this path down to the Cité Religieuse following the stations of the cross.
The dappled light gives the walk a mystical feel. We arrived at noon, so most of the pilgrims were having their lunch in the cafés down below.
Oh wait, here they come. I guess you can distinguish the faithful from the lazy heathens by which direction you’re going. The stations of the cross start at the bottom. Oops.
After the stations of the cross, you enter the Cité Religieuse or religious sanctuary. It’s an MC Escheresque maze of stairways, dark chapels and passageways.
It’s also clinging to a very steep cliff and kind of Game-of-Thrones-y.
Mark spotted this creepy fresco. Dance of the dead, anyone?
Inside the Chapelle Notre-Dame, the Black Madonna is also called Our Lady of Rocamadour. Carved from walnut in the 12th Century, she was blackened by candle smoke over the centuries. I find it miraculous that things like this still survive.
A little maquette of the site. Where are the elevators?
As the skies darkened, we headed down this flight of very wonky steps to the medieval village, aka the tourist trap.
A bird’s eye view.
The village consists of a single street of stone and half-timbered townhouses with shops at street level.
You can buy local goat cheese….
I need one of these outside my shop!
and Smurf flavored gelato! What the hell flavor is that supposed to be? The very nice lady behind the counter assured that it was lemon and raspberry.
After a little searching, we found the elevators back to the top. The first one goes straight up through a shaft cut in the rock. The second is a funicular that leaves from this space-age depot. Much better than hiking all the way back up!
Who are these goof balls? Maybe we need a selfie stick!