Clinging to the cliff face above the Alzou river is one of the most remarkable sites in Europe. Rocamadour was named after a local hermit who was dubbed by the locals ‘rock lover’ or ‘Roc Amator’ in Oc due to his love of the rocks amongst which he dwelled.
Since the Middle Ages this has been a site of pilgrimage for those who come to seek the help of the 12th century Black Madonna, an effigy of the Virgin, carved from walnut, partially covered in silver plate and blackened by candle smoke. Famous visitors have included Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England, St Bernard, Louis VII of France who all had to climb the many steps on their knees.
Since the Reformation there have been fewer religious pilgrims but tourists, in effect modern pilgrims, come from all over the world in their hundreds of thousands. Most visit the Ecclesiastical City which is a pedestrian zone but the village below is also worth exploring. Don’t miss the nearby Forêt des Singes or the Rocher des Aigles.
Author’s Tip: The best view of Rocamadour is from L’Hospitalet to the north east in the early morning.