Rocamadour, a touristic hotspot in the Dordogne valley

One of the biggest tourist hotspots in France is Rocamadour. Yearly Rocamadour attracts many visitors and is, after Mont Saint-Michel, the most visited place in France. It is also the most visited pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes. Thanks to a unique combination of history, conviviality, art and a beautiful landscape, the town has a unique atmosphere. Rocamadour, built on a rock above the river Alzou, is definitely worth a visit during your holiday. You can park at the top and then walk down and take the elevator back up again, or you can park at the bottom of the rock and then walk up. There is also a train that stops at various places.


Thanks to the petroglyphs found in caves we know people already lived here during ancient times. In the period before the Middle Ages, a hermit, Amadour, settled here after which a small monastic community arose before the tenth century. During the twelfth century a miracle is said to have happened due to which a huge pilgrimage community arose. After the tomb of Amadour was discovered, Rocamadour became a popular place of pilgrimage which was visited by many on the way to Santiago de Compostela. Rocamadour was destroyed during religious wars and the Revolution. In the second half of the nineteenth century Rocamadour was completely restored. These days Rocamdour’s has its popularity thanks to mass tourism which discovered the town in the twentieth century.

Pilgrimage to Rocamadour

To experience how pilgrims visited Rocamadour, it is best to walk diagonally down from L'Hospitalet to the entrance gate of Rocamadour. This road is the Voie Sainte, the holy road, which leads to the thirteenth century gate "Porte du Figuier" and gives access to the main street of Rocamadour. These days you’ll find souvenir shops and restaurants here. The Grand Escalier is in the middle of the village and leads people to the top of Rocamadour. Pilgrims would take off almost all their clothes and go up the 200+ steps stairs on bare knees. In some cases, the pilgrims would make it even more difficult for themselves by hanging heavy iron chains around their necks.

Seven shrines

At the top of the stairs there is a central square with various chapels. The most famous are the Notre-Dame Chapel, the Saint-Sauveur Basilica and the Saint-Michel Chapel. The Black Madonna is in the Notre-Dame chapel and the tomb of Saint Amadour is also located near this chapel. The square also has the entrance to the former palace of the bishop where you can now find a museum.

Beautiful views over the valley

If you visit Rocamadour during your holiday, take a look at the surroundings and the beautiful nature. At the top of the castle, you have a beautiful view over Rocamadour and the surrounding area. You will see the Valley Alzou and the river flowing through it. You’ll also have a beautiful view of the Regional Natural Park of the Causses du Quercy. You can also enjoy a beautiful view from the adjacent town of L'Hospitalet. From L’Hospitalet you’ll have a beautiful view over the Rocamadour valley and you’ll understand why the stunning Rocamadour is so popular among tourists.

Notre Dame Chapel

Notre Dame is Rocamadour’s main chapel. According to the legend, a hermit carved it into a rock with his bare hands. The 12th century Vierge Noire, the Black Madonna, stands in this chapel. The Black Madonna is carved from the wood of a walnut tree and is said to cause all the miracles in Rocamadour. A visit to Notre Dame and the Madonna is the highlight for pilgrims on a pilgrimage.

Sword of Durandal

Above the entrance to the Chapelle Notre-Dame, rocamadour's most sacred chapel, you’ll see a sword sticking into the rocks. Legend has it that this is the magical sword of Durandal which Roland received from Charlemagne at the beginning of an expedition through the Pyrenees. When Roland feared that he was going to lose he threw the sword towards Rocamadour and it landed exactly above the door of the chapel.

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Stations of the Cross

You can also go down to Rocamadour. There is a winding path down from the castle. There are Stations of the Cross depicted along this path. The different stages and fragments of the crusade are shown in openings in the rocks. A third possibility to get into the village or to go back to the top of the castle is by taking the elevator.

Other places of interest in Rocamadour

  • Chapel in L'Hospitalet – This used to be the guest house for pilgrims.
  • Monkey Park "La Fôret des Singes"
  • Birds of prey show "Rocher des Aigles".
  • "Grottes des Merveilles"
  • Parc Durandal, medieval shows with horses
  • Train from Rocamadour
  • La Borie d'Imbert and La Maison de Justine, farmhouses from the 19th century
  • "Les Montgolfiades", hot air balloon show

Specialities from Rocamadour and the region

  • Rocamadour cheese is a creamy cheese, made from goat's milk and of high quality. It has an AOC status.
  • The red Amadour wine consists of 60% Merlot and 40% Malbec and has won several awards.
  • Foie gras farm in Rocamadour where you can buy delicious specialties. Nowadays, the geese are treated in an animal-friendly way.
  • Nut pie: A specialty from the Quercy region. Nut pie is a walnut cake from Rocamadour.
  • A goat milk soap which is widely used by people who suffer from dry skin and eczema and is known for its antibacterial properties.
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