On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Rocamadour and around.
It was time to leave the lovely Château de Lissac. After breakfast we checked out and drove to Rocamadour, which is about an hour’s driving from the Château through beautiful country lanes with almost no traffic.
Rocamadour has been an important pilgrimage destination for over 1000 years and a stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela. The village sits in a dramatic clifftop setting, clinging to the rocks with imposing character. A typical medieval village in France.
On arrival we parked at Parking de L’Hospitalet and walked in the direction of the L’Hospitalet area. This is an area of various shops, restaurants, and cafés on the modern part of the town. You will need to park in one of the four car parks located outside the old town as it is not possible/permitted to access the old town by car.
We stopped at Restaurant Le Belvedere for a drink, as it was quite hot, we needed some refreshment, and use of the toilets. The restaurant is sited next to “Belvedere du Site” viewpoint, sharing beautiful views of Rocamadour and the surrounding hamlets. We took the opportunity to book a table for lunch at the restaurant’s terrace for one o-clock, as we knew the competition would be fierce.
With lunch sorted, we took the road “Au Fond de la Cotê” next to the restaurant, and walked down in the direction of Rocamadour Old Town (“Cité Mediévale”). Entering the town through “Porte du Figuier” we reached the pedestrianised main road (“rue de la Couronnerie”), which was bustling with tourists at the time. After a quick stop at the Tourist Office for a map, we continued towards the end of the road, admiring the many medieval buildings along the way. To get up to the Sanctuary, half-way up the cliff, we had two options: climbing flights of steps (216 in total) or take the lift. We decided to follow on the steps of the many Middle-Age pilgrims and climbed the stairs. However, unlike the pilgrims of old, we didn’t climb the steps on our knees!
The Sanctuary clings to the rocks and comprises of The Basilica Saint-Sauveur and the Crypt Saint-Amadour, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are also other religious buildings and various other chapels, as well as the Palace of the Bishops. The highlight of the Sanctuary is the “Vierge Noire” (Black Virgin) in the Chapelle Notre Dame.
After visiting the buildings in the Sanctuary, we moved up to the Rocamadour Castle at the clifftop. Once again, we had two options: taking the lift or walking up via the “Chemin de Croix” (The Way of the Cross). We decided to walk, stopping at every station of the Cross, reading the explanation, and looking at the scenes of Christ’s walk along the Via Dolorosa. The Chemin de Croix ends at the very top of the cliff, marked by a large cross set in another viewpoint, with yet more amazing views of the area.
Once at the top, we visited the château, however you can only walk at the rampart, the interior of the château is not open to the public. From the rampart, you have more beautiful views of the valley and the villages below. We walked back to L’Hospitalet via the “Promenade de La Corniche”, passing the remains of the hospital. It was almost one p.m. and our table was waiting for us at “Le Belvedere”, so that is where we headed to with our bellies humbling.
You can have a guided tour of Rocamadour by booking it HERE.
Our table was right by the side of the terrace’s glazed balcony, in a very good position to contemplate the views. For the starters we ordered “Tartare de melon” and “Salade Italienne”; for mains I chose “Orrechiete à la truffe” and my husband chose “Filet de daurade”. The food was OK but took ages to be served. We even joked that the chef might had gone fishing for the daurade (sea bream). We spent a long time in there, longer than we wanted to, but had a nice lunch with wonderful views.
After lunch we drove to the Grottes de Lacave that are only nine km from Rocamadour and it only took us about 20 minutes to get there.
The caves were discovered in 1905 and visitations started from 1906; it’s limestone plateaus date from the Jurassic Period (145 to 200 million years). The heart of the cave is accessed by riding in a small underground electric train, and once there, the guided tour begins. Like in Rocamadour, the cave tour involved a lot of climbing steps. We were pretty tired by them but persevered, and in the end quite enjoyed the one and a half hour visit of the 12 “rooms”. With clever use of artificial lights, the impressive stalagmites, stalactites, and natural pools glow in spectacular, other-worldly ways. At the end of the tour, we took the little train to go back up to reality. I must add that you don’t need to book to get to this cave, you can buy your tickets on arrival.
Back in the car, it was time to drive to Saint-Vincent-de-Cosse and the Château de Monrecour, our new “home” for the next two days. On the way there we stopped at Château de La Treyne, where we were hoping to have a drink in their beautiful terrace on the shores of the river Dordogne. Unfortunately, non-guests were not allowed in. So, we continued our one-hour trip via the country lanes, with barely any other cars to be seen.
The Domaine du Château de Monrecour is another beautiful castle that has been restored to its original glory. It dates from the 1500’s and changed owners many times throughout the years. In the 1900’s it was renovated in a Neo-Renaissance style with two new towers built, and the roof tiled. In 1998 the castle became a hotel. In 2016 it changed owners again and more works were carried out, with all rooms in the castle, annex buildings and cottages updated to a more contemporary style. Compared to Château de Lissac, Château de Monrecour feels much more modern, without detracting from its history. Both châteaus are very attractive on their own ways.
We arrived at Monrecour in the early evening and were given a room on the third floor of the castle (more stairs to climb!!!). Because I had to change the reservation so many times, we ended-up with a family room that was more like an apartment (two rooms, two bathrooms). That’s what was available at the time, so we took it!
We didn’t have much time to rest, just had a quick shower and went downstairs to their restaurant “La Table de Monrecour” as we had a table booked for eight p.m. The restaurant is next to the Château and has a lovely terrace to dine outside. We were not very hungry because of the late lunch in Rocamadour, so we didn’t order any starters and went for the mains straight way. I chose “Back of cod, Thai style and zucchini stuffed flower” and my husband chose the goose breast. Both dishes were delicious, and we were very pleased with our choices. This is a gourmet restaurant offering modern culinary cuisine and flavoursome dishes of high quality. After dessert and finishing our bottle of Provence Rosé wine, we retired to our room for a well-deserved rest.
The plan for next day was to visit Beynac-et-Cazenac and La Roque-Gageac.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Rocamadour and around. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO VISIT IN ROCAMADOUR AND AROUND
1 – L’Hospitalet – ***
2 – Belvedere du Site – ***
3 – Old Town – Cité Mediévale – ***
4 – Porte du Figuier – ***
5 – The Santuary – ***
6 – Basilica Saint-Sauveur – ***
7 – Cript Saint-Amadour – ***
8 – Palace of the Bishops – ***
9 – Vierge Noire – ***
10 – Rocamadour Castle – ***
11 – Chemin de Croix – ***
12 – Grottes de Lacave – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN ROCAMADOUR AND AROUND
1 – Château de Monrecour – St Vincent-de-Cosse – 5* – *** – £££
2 – Château de La Treyne – Lacave – 5* – £££
3 – Hôtel Les Esclargies – Rocamadour – 3* – ££
4 – Logis Hôtel Le Belvédere – 2** – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN ROCAMADOUR AND AROUND
1 – Le Belvédere – ** – ££
2 – Restaurant du Château – Rocamadour – ££
3 – La Table de Monrecour – *** – £££
4 – Restaurant Bellevue – Rocamadour – ££
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