Looking towards St Cere and the Dordogne Valley


Rocamadour 1Rocamadour is the second most visited site in France outside of Paris so we have devoted a page to this fascinating place. Some guide books will tell you that Rocamadour is very touristy and we have to say that during August it is hard to move with all the visitors. However, go outside the main season and you will find a most dramatic and wonderful village that just has to be seen. We can give you a few tips to see the village from the best viewpoints and avoid the crowds.

Orientation
The village is built on 3 levels. The hotels, cafes and shops are located in the main on the lower level and besides the usual tourist souvenirs there are a number of decent artisan shops with local arts and crafts.
On the middle level is the complex of monastic buildings and pilgrimage churches and at the top is the old chateau (now a hotel) and the ramparts offering a dizzingly high view of the whole village.
You can walk the whole way up and down or there are two sets of lifts for those less enegetic. On the top level is one of our favourite attractions, the bird of prey centre "Rocher des Aigles"

There are many events taking place at Rocamadour and one not to miss is the annual balloon festival in September.


History (with acknowledgment to Wikipedia)
Rocamadour has attracted visitors for its setting in a gorge above a tributary of the River Dordogne, and especially for its historical monuments and its sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which for centuries has attracted pilgrims from every country, among them kings, bishops, and nobles. The chief of them is the pilgrimage church of Notre Dame (rebuilt in its present configuration from 1479), containing the cult image at the center of the site's draw, a wooden Black Madonna reputed to have been carved by Saint Amator (Amadour) himself.

According to the founding legend, Rocamadour is named after the founder of the ancient sanctuary, Saint Amator, identified with the Biblical Zacheus, the tax collector of Jericho mentioned in Luke 19:1-10, and the husband of St. Veronica, who wiped Jesus' face on the way to Calvary. Driven out of Palestine by persecution, St. Amadour and Veronica embarked in a frail skiff and, guided by an angel, landed on the coast of Aquitaine, where they met Bishop St. Martial, another disciple of Christ who was preaching the Gospel in the south-west of Gaul. After journeying to Rome, where he witnessed the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul, Amadour, having returned to France, on the death of his spouse, withdrew to a wild spot in Quercy where he built a chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin, near which he died a little later.

This account, like most other similar legends, does not make its first appearance till long after the age in which the chief actors are deemed to have lived. The name of Amadour occurs in no document previous to the compilation of his Acts, which on careful examination and on an application of the rules of the cursus to the text cannot be judged older than the 12th century. It is now well established that Saint Martial, Amadour's contemporary in the legend, lived in the 3rd not the 1st century, and Rome has never included him among the members of the Apostolic College. The mention, therefore, of St. Martial in the Acts of St. Amadour would alone suffice, even if other proof were wanting, to prove them doubtful.
The untrustworthiness of the legend has led some recent authors to suggest that Amadour was an unknown hermit or possibly St. Amator, Bishop of Auxerre, but this is mere hypothesis, without any historical basis. The origin of the sanctuary of Rocamadour, lost in antiquity, is thus set down along with fabulous traditions which cannot bear up to sound criticism. After the religious manifestations of the Middle Ages, Rocamadour, as a result of war and the French Revolution, had become almost deserted.
In the mid-nineteenth century, owing to the zeal and activity of the bishops of Cahors, it seems to have revived, and pilgrims and tourists are beginning to crowd there again.

Among the many recorded pilgrims to Rocamadour are Eleanor of Aquitane, Henry II of England, Louis IX and Louis XI of France and Charles IV of France.

Main Rocamadour tourist site - click here


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