The village is really a magnificent site, with houses and castle built onto the side of the vertical cliffs. Quite logically this has become an extremely popular tourist site, and the approach to the village along the top of the cliffs is a collection of souvenir and curio shops and the attendant commerce.
Driving down to the village entrance, it's all pay parking, and pay elevators to get up and down the cliff between the vertical parts of Rocamadour. (We don't object to any of the "pay" element; the tourism-maintenance cycle does require funding.)
Being in the region in mid-August, and being shy of crowds, we were content to park on the little road on the south side of the gorge and walk along there to view this magnificent sight from the outside. We do intend to return at a calmer time for a tour of the village.
It was a very cloudy August day, and mostly rainy, when we were there. Not great for photographs, but it adds to the Medieval atmosphere of the place.
History of Rocamadour
Prehistoric: There were significant prehistoric sites at Rocamadour, which is easy to understand when you see the deep river valley and the tall cliffs here. The Grotte des merveilles at L'Hospitalet (eastern edge of Rocamadour) had engravings and prehistoric wall paintings. A dolment and tumulus were found at the area called "Les Places". The IGN 2136ET map shows a dolmen just 1.5 km southwest of Rocamadour, and several other cave-type sites (gouffres, grottes).
Gallo-Roman: Remains of Gallo-Roman habitation have been found at several locations, including En Caminou, Pech d'Ouriac, Borie del Pec.
Medieval: Rocamadour is a 2-star medieval village, and full of great medieval buildings, sites, and interesting remains. The adjacent hamlet of L'Hopital have the remains of the Hopital Saint-Jean, founded in the 11th-century to welcome pilgrims. The Hopital Saint-Jean was rebuilt in the 13th century and restored again in the 14th century.
• GPS: 44.799521, 1.618353
IGN (1/25,000) #2136 ET "Rocamadour, Padirac, Vallee Dordogne"
The GR6 Hiking Trail goes through the village of Rocamadour.
To the west, the GR6 goes along the Alzou river until it joins the Ouysse, then follows along the Ouysse to where it empties into the Dordogne at Lacave village and the Belcastel chateau. Continuing west, the GR6 is a bit north of the Dordogne, passing through Souillac, Carlux and Sarlat-la-Canéda.
East from Rocamadour the GR6 follows the Alzou upstream to Gramat, then southeast via Lacapelle-Marival and Cardaillac to Figeac.
Fun - Amusement - Kids
Spectacle with birds of prey in free flight, and a show with parrots.
• Open: April through October
• Entry: 8 euros
• Tel: 0565 336 545, or 0565 653 906
• Web: www.rocherdesaigles.com
• Their website is very fancy; doesn't work with Firefox and Mac.
Grotte Préhistorique des Merveilles
• Open: Apr-June 10h-12, 14h-18. July-Aug 9h-19h. Sept-Nov 10h-12h, 14h-18.
• Closed: Nov after Toussaint until end March.
• Tel: 0565 336 792; Fax: 0565 33 67 92
• Beautiful subterranean caves, with 20,000 year-old cave drawings, from the late paleolithic.