Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekends Away: From Rocamadour to Conques

Part one - in Rocamadour.

After stuffing ourselves with as much hotel breakfast as possible from the copious buffet (croissant, boiled egg, toast and delicious homemade jams including 'nèfle' (medlar), yoghurt, kiwi), we left Rocamadour and headed off towards Plus Beau Village Conques via Figeac.

The hotel owner suggested we take a detour to Lacave and see the castle perched above the river Dordogne, so as we weren't in a hurry, we did. It was worth the detour.

Castle at Lacave, Lot
This place was pretty nifty too. Those towers, also seen in Rocamadour, are obviously the thing in the Lot.

Spied along the road
Then we left Lot, crossed the border into Aveyron, and arrived at PBV Conques where we parked the car, and got out to walk in the lovely winter sunshine, my DB's Fitbit pedometer on orders to start counting steps.
Arriving in Conques
As you can see, it was pretty empty. There was only one restaurant open, the same one where we'd had dinner the last time we were here (the Auberge de St Jacques), not that we wanted to eat yet as we were still stuffed from breakfast! I'm not sure there was single shop open.

We fancied this house which was for sale although the pronounced leaning to the right of the top floor is a little worrying. Still, it's been there since the Middle Ages, so it's probably good for a few hundred more years yet... unlike the rubbish most of us live in today!
The top section of this house leans worryingly to the right
 Conque definitely deserves its PBV status.
Pretty houses which overlook the valley
 And you can really appreciate it with no one about!
Photo opportunities at every turn

Not sure why the banisters are on the outside of this house. Any ideas?

This local resident looked happy to have the place to himself
The abbey (11-12th century, on UNESCO and patrimoine lists) was open so we went in and had a look at its magnificent interior, and I even spotted a monk (there are still five) who smiled at me, so I smiled back. Conques is on the pilgrims' Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle route, and one of the duties of the monks is to welcome them at the hostel attached to the abbey. Some of the windows of the abbey were designed by Pierre Soulages. They have shaded white non-parallel horizontal lines. To be honest, I would never have guessed they'd been created by such a famous artist, so I obviously do not have l'oeil artistique! (Soulages is big in Montpellier where there is a room of his work at the Musée Fabre because he lived and worked there for many years.)

After clocking up nearly ten thousand steps, we left Conques and continued on our way, stopping to take a photo of this stunning house.

How gorgeous is this?
 A bit further on we stopped again to take a picture of this funny looking hut. Or is it an old shed where Monsieur retired to read the paper in peace? H'd have to crawl in though; that door is very low. It says 1852 on the lintel, so it's quite recent really.
What on earth is this?
There are faces in the walls amongst the muddy splats. Any ideas as to why? Maybe they are recycled statue faces. Did the owner of this place merely go overboard with decorating or was there a method behind the madness? Could it be a copy of the mother-in-law's face embedded in the mud?

Can you see the faces in the muddy deposits?
Our stomachs started grumbling around 3pm at Rodez, so we stopped when we saw a boulangerie open and bought a couple of sandwiches. The girl made them on the spot in a very original way. The fillings were all laid out on individual bits of cardboard. She put the filling on a contraption, placed an opened baguette over the top, turned the machine so it went upside down, removed the cardboard, and pressed the other side of the bread down to make the sandwich. I've never seen that before! It ensured that the bread never got soggy by sitting about filled. It tasted okay too.

Once on the autoroute, we made good time, although there was drifting snow being blown onto the road by strong winds, and it didn't look good for drivers coming later. The Plateau de Larzac is definitely a wild and woolly place!

It was quite a trek over to the Lot for the weekend, but it felt like we'd been away for longer, and it recharged our batteries nicely.


  1. Stunning place and great photos. Have been to Rocamadour but not to Conques, another one to add to our must see places. Have a good week Diane

    1. Hi Diane, yes it is a must-see place, preferably not in the summer. :) The restaurant I mentioned is very good too. It's got Guide du Routard recommendation plaques all over the outside.
      Bonne semaine. :)

  2. It looks as if the banisters were left over from another building that had maybe fallen down, and someone thought, oh yes, they'd look good built into the walls of my house. And of course in the centuries to come, people seeing them would wonder why they were there. :)

    It's 30 years since we were last in Conques, but have promised ourselves to go back one of these days. It certainly is a gem.

    1. I wondered if the original house had the banisters inside, lost a quarter during some attack, and found itself with the banisters outside and left them as an original feature. :)

  3. so interesting and pretty - I miss places like this..

    1. I bet you do, David. I would too. :)

  4. Beautiful - and so glad such a short break had such an impact :)

    1. Oh yes, it really did us a lot of good. Short but definitely sweet! :)

  5. What a glorious place! The combination of mediaeval architecture and stunning scenery is perfect. There are times I wish my bit of France hadn't lost so much in WW2. :(

    1. Yes, we are very lucky down here that so much has been preserved through the ages. Let's hope it stays that way, too.


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