Rocamadour is an enchanting ancient town that floats above the valley. When first approaching it from across the gorge, its ancient sanctuary and the town clustered at its feet are breathtaking in their angles, height and architecture.
The grey and white stones of its buildings glow in the sun. It’s astonishing that this 12th century town was even able to be built, considering the challenge of bringing stone and workmen to this city perched on the edge of a cliff.
You must approach the town on narrow, winding roads. The town itself consists of a main street, Rue de la Couronnerie, with charming shops along the way. You can take an elevator from that level to the churches and sanctuary above or you can walk the path (233 steps). We opted to take the elevator (1 Euro), located inside the cliff.
There is a small train that can take you through the town and up to the cliff area above, where there are restaurants that look over the valley. Here you will find some amazing food made with local produce, and some fantastic wines produced in the area.
The specialty of Rocamadour is the goat cheese produced here; it has a sharp, creamy taste that is fantastic in a salad. We had two wonderful meals at Au Panorama, a small restaurant, run by a charming couple who do speak English.
Rocamadour was an important pilgrimage site; here we found the church of Notre Dame with the famous Black Virgin, said to be carved by St. Amator (Amadour). There are beautiful stained glass windows and although the the cathedral is constructed of stone, a warm feeling permeates all.
You will also find the very intimate church of the Benedictine monks, St. Michel. Below these two churches is a terrace where pilgrims gathered. A fragment of Roland’s sword Durandel is located here. There is also the church of St. Sauveur which is covered with paintings and inscriptions of the important people who came on pilgrimage. Some who came to this city were Elanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England, Charles IV of France, Louis XI of France, and Roland. There are 8 churches located in this small area.
Above all this is the fortress constructed to protect the sanctuaries. The views from here are spectacular. You have to pay 2 euros to enter the grounds in order to climb the ramparts to get the best views. The city is laid out at your feet and you can see the entire valley, along with the pilgrimage route.
The city itself has some charming restaurants, shops that sell locally made items, and some very touristy spots like those found in Rome, Paris, etc. It is certainly a memorable place to visit, with enjoyable local restaurants and a very relaxing air about it.
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