Saturday, February 14, 2015

Weekends Away: Rocamadour

It's half term for Zone A and the kids have been on holiday for a week already. I am not on holiday, but my DB and I escaped for the weekend and took the car to Rocamadour. It's a bit chilly for motorbike yet, especially crossing the Plateau de Larzac where there was snow everywhere except the main road. It took us a while to find a spot to park to eat our lunch where we could be sure we wouldn't get stuck!

Larzac was looking stunning. The ground was dressed in a snowy white coat, but the bushes and trees were not so the contrast was very dramatic.

We arrived at Rocamadour around 2pm, checked into the hotel we'd reserved on the Hospitalet on the plateau overlooking the village, and had a short snooze. When we were ready to leave, the guy in the hotel gave us a plan of the cité and showed us the standard walk down, round, up to the castle and back to the hotel; a walk of about 90 minutes. Perfect!

Rocamadour is, of course, one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, and quite justifiably so. It's a cracker, tucked into the cliff with a castle that reaches up up and away.

Leaving l'Hospitalet on our way down to Rocamadour
Entering the crowds-free village
It was wonderful visiting in early February. There was no one. I think we came across a maximum of 20 visitors (so not exactly no one, but these streets are packed in the summer...).

The resident cats were out and about
No one here.
The chapel devoted to rugby, note all the rugby shirts...
Or here.
I paid two euros to bang a drawing pin into an old log
Bugger, which one's mine?
 The pins were part of a donations campaign to help maintain the village.

The tower is for sale. You'd need a hoover on every floor...
 We fancied the tower that was for sale in the valley. You'd have to like stairs, but what an original building!

Looking up to the castle

Looking up at part of the cathedral
 Following the sound of music, we went into the cathedral to see what was going on. There were a hundred or so mostly young people participating in a mass. It was unusual (to me) in that there was a young man confessing to the priest in full view of everyone right at the front. When he'd finished, a young woman took his place and started her confession. It was going to take a while if everyone was to have a go...! I wonder what they were confessing. Naughty thoughts? Bad actions? Taking drugs? Smoking? Playing hooky from school? Beating up a little sibling? Lying to mum...?

A picturesque spot
We climbed up to the top on the zig-zagging path. As you can see, it was very quiet too. At each bend is a shrine that contains an image relating to the Crucifiction.  My DB wanted me to remember what was in each shrine, and said he would test me when we got to the hotel. If I couldn't remember, I'd get no wine! Shocked, I took a lot more interest in what poor old Jesus was up to (falling over, being helped by Simon, etc.). Luckily, my DB can be a bit forgetful and he forgot to test me so I got my wine without having to pass an exam... I didn't remind him, either.

The path up, up, up
The ramparts. Not for the faint-hearted.
The views were dramatic from the top. We paid two euros each to go onto the ramparts which gave us an amazing 360° panorama. I felt a tad queasy up there, I must say.
Looking down and over to l'Hospitalet
We walked back to the hotel, which was also quiet, and rested before dinner down the road at the only restaurant open, le Belevedere, which was packed. Dinner was excellent. We started with a red lentil velouté which was amazing. I emailed the restaurant later to ask for the recipe but they never got back to me, I'm sad to say. I'll have to see if one of the recipes on the internet bears some resemblance to the one we had. The main course was a tasty confit de canard, and I finished up with a delicious walnut cake in custard. The whole was washed down with a hearty red wine from Chateau Eugénie.

It was a lovely day. Rocamadour is fab out of season!


  1. I enjoyed reading about your trip to Rocamadour. It was the first place I ever visited in the South of France -- on a "study trip" when I was doing a semester abroad in Tours in...1980! The area was positively "sauvage." I remember walking up that path when it was just a dirt trail (also at night, which was certainly ill-advised, but we were young and foolish.)

    I am definitely all for visiting these places off-season, as in WAY off-season like you did. Conques here in Aveyron is similar, although not as big a tourist draw as Rocamadour. Lovely and deserted off-season, but a nightmare in the summer.

    1. Oh yes, we came back via Conques, and stopped to visit it too. I'm going to blog about that too as it was lovely and quiet.

      Lots of sites were sauvage years ago. They've got all accessible and safe now, which is good in some ways, but they were more fun when wild and unsafe. :)

    2. Oh, I'm glad you made it to Conques! I bet just about everything was closed there too. I'll look forward to your post.

  2. Jealous. Haven't managed to get there yet, your photos and description have re-whetted my appetite. But I'll give the ramparts a miss. :)

    1. Definitely worth a visit out of season! :) La crème de la crème of the PBVs.

  3. More and more and more, you make me want to live in France! Looks and sounds extraordinary :)

    1. Visiting is not the same as living, unfortunately. There's good and bad everywhere, and the grass is always greener. :)


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