It was nearly 11 am by the time we arrived; there is no fast way to get to Rocamadour from anywhere….you must use the narrow roads that twist and turn as they go up and down the hills surround this medieval village that clings to the side of a cliff. There are legends about this village dating back to biblical times; one is that the husband of St.Veronica who wiped the face of Jesus came here and built the church to honor the Virgin Mary after Veronica’s death. But there are traceable references to Roland and Eleanor of Aquitaine that would date back to prior to 800 AD. But it is very old and full of religious references and buildings.
We parked at the top of the plateau near the Chateaux that was built to protect the churches and sanctuaries on the side of the hill and walked down the path that has the Stations of the Cross on each end of the hairpin curves. Halfway down the plateau there are several churches. One houses the “Black Madonna”; reputed to have been carved by Saint Amator himself. There are several “miracles” accredited to this statue and pilgrimages of celebrated persons over the ages are recorded on the walls of the churches. The upper part of the village surrounds these churches and gives the tourists a place to “shop till you drop” opportunity.
The village continues down the road that clings to the side of the hill. There are several hotels, including a Best Western, restaurants and many different shops. They even had a “little train” to take tourists on the route who didn’t want to walk. There is only one road in this part of town. We actually found our wallets…a little larger than the original…and purchased two of them at seven Euros each. We decided to play the “old folks” card and paid the fee to ride the Ascender back to the top where our car was parked. It took two stages to get there.
We sat in the car and enjoyed our picnic lunch at 12:30 before heading the car back towards Sarlat on a different set of back roads. Part of my job is keeping Jim entertained conversation wise when the traffic backs up and he gets frustrated. With so many curves and one lane bridges you can’t always pass the slow vehicles. And, a prolific number of bicycle riders around every curve! We have lots of good conversations on these drives.
Decided to go to the hotel for a rest instead of another chateaux by the time we arrived back at 2 pm. Later this afternoon we’ll head down into town and have a nice dinner in Sarlat.
Notes that might be of interest….motorcycle riders in the USA wave their hand to say thank you for road courtesy; in France they lift their right foot to say thanks. And…we are in the land of Foie Gras….Goose liver pate….it’s definitely a specialty of the region.
We’re back from dinner…it’s about 8:30 pm. As we pulled into the parking lot there was a French family who had their little table, with a linen cloth and three chairs like our folding chair; one gentleman was on a folding stool. They were eating their dinner on the grassy area outside the hotel. I took our folding chair out of the trunk and walked over towards them; Jim thought I was crazy. They spoke no English…in our broken French we explained that we’d purchased the chair to use when following the Tour de France and we wanted to give it to them as we could not take it back with us to the USA…..they looked very puzzled but suddenly their eyes opened wide when they realized we were giving them the chair! They were very happy and couldn’t believe their good fortune; and we have one less thing to get rid of in Paris.
Back to dinner….we arrived in town about 5:30 pm and found that no one was serving dinner until 7 pm. So we had some time to walk around and finally went back to the car and moved it much closer to the restaurant. We had parked over by the cemetery where we’d parked yesterday as it was a comfort area for us…we knew where it was! The restaurant that we’d selected we discovered only served pork related foods….so we departed and found another one close by named “La Petite Borie”….delightful! Jim had his fill of confit of canard with small salad and fried potatoes. I enjoyed a cheese omelet, small salad and fried potatoes. We had two bottles of their ice cold tap water….can’t believe why people drink bottled water….they have the best water right out of the tap!
So we’ve blown the budget again but worth it. We are back at the hotel….highly recommend this little hotel chain known as Hotel Altica …only 44 Euros a night and they have a reasonable breakfast option also. They are only located in Western France at this time; the chain is about twelve years old the manager said. Tomorrow we pack up and head north to Tours; we’ll spend four nights there touring the Chateaux of the Loire Valley.