Yesterday we were so busy looking for a camping ground called Le Roc, that we didn't find, that we missed the signs saying that the road down into Rocamadour wasn't suitable for campervans. We made it through anyway. Twice. Not without palpitations,pulling side mirrors in and praying. We had to do the road a second time because we needed to return to a camping ground we'd passed earlier on our fruitless search.
It was alarming, but on reflection, one of those things one is glad to have done.
Have to say this place is wonderful. My legs, however, are killing me. So glad squats are part of my exercise regime. Good for climbing hills and steps. 219 steps up to the virgin's chapel at not quite the top of Rocamadour. The pilgrims used to do it on their knees saying a prayer for each step. Then there's a climbing zigzag path through monuments representing the stations of the cross. I stopped looking at them cos I started getting irrationally emotional based on my Judeo-Christian inculcation.
The walk was so arduous that I imagined Christ carrying some hardwood cross. With splinters.
Happily I've walked back up the 60 percent inclined hill and I'm installed in a bar, with Al, overlooking Rocamadour.
It's named after St Amadour, an abbott whose well preserved remains were apparently discovered there. Later they were destroyed by looters at some other time in history.
I'd never heard of Rocamadour; didn't know that it's the second cite in France , after Mont St Michel, despite all my French studies and visits. According to a shopkeeper, who patiently chatted despite my laboured French and helped me with a couple of words and conjugations, Rocamadour isn't that well known, in contrast with those places one immediately associates with France: Mont St Michel, the Eiffel Tower, the Loire Valley and the Riviera. She believes the south-east is a little overlooked.
If you are coming to France put Rocamadour on your list of brilliant places to see and do. There's lots of climbing and walking involved but it's so worth it.
The weather today is perfect: low to mid 20s; the sky with scudding white clouds; light refreshing breeze. Haven' t heard many English voices today but there seem to be quite a few tourists and Sunday day-trippers about. Nothing like the hordes trampling Mont St Michel though. I've been able to enjoy a leisurely stroll - on the occasional flat bits
There's a massive cave here too - grotte des merveilles - but I didn't fancy a visit. I overdid that one last year in a troglodyte cave in Loches. Had a bit of claustrophobia along the labyrinthine self-guided tour. I'll look at a photo.
Now, our late lunch was par excellence. Didn't expect that in a tourist spot. We ate at a restaurant with an outdoor terrasse overlooking the valley. The restaurant is called Le Terminus des Pelerins - the last stop of the pilgrims. We both had salads which were delectable: lettuce, tomatoes, walnuts, vinaigrette dressing; some sort of thin salami cut into bite-sized disks, a generous slice of tasty duck terrine, cured ham and a pat of goats' cheese to die for, as they say. We bought another 6 pats of the goats' cheese at a local store in Rocamadour, so good was it.
I know I'm given to hyperbole but credit where it's due. I'd put that salad up there with the best, most timely feeds of my life. Perfect food; perfect setting; perfect day. I'm becoming as repetitious as a politician.