Visiting Rocamadour, France

Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.

by and - last updated on 4/26/2024

Travel Tile Rocamadour had been one of our destination targets since the very first trip planning sessions, as it represents one of the more unusual sites we'd ever seen or read about. The images we had seen of the buildings on the side & top of that cliff were amazing and we were really looking forward to visiting there. The drive from Sarlat to Rocamadour is via country roads/back roads that are narrow with lots of curves. The distance was only 51 kilometers however the roads were challenging to the point where it took 1.5 hours to arrive.

Rocamadour, often referred to as a "Vertical Village," is a breathtaking medieval town perched precariously on the side of a sheer limestone cliff (390 feet) in southwestern France. This unique and enchanting destination is a place of profound religious significance and natural beauty. Rocamadour owes its origin to St. Amadour who (according to tradition) chose this place as a hermitage for his devotions to the Virgin Mary.

At the heart of Rocamadour is the Sanctuary of Rocamadour, a complex of religious buildings that have drawn pilgrims for centuries. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Church of Notre Dame (built in 1479) contains the wooden figure of the Black Madonna - reputed to have been carved by St. Amadour himself.

Pilgrims were expected to climb the Grand Escalier on their knees, a steep flight of 216 steps, as an act of penance, seeking solace, and hoping for miracles. As reports of miracles happening at Rocamadour spread throughout Europe, visitors began to arrive looking for their own miracle. King Henry Plantagenet came to find a miraculous cure. St. Louis IX of France followed in the next century and Rocamadour became an important pilgrimage destination.

The town's architecture is a remarkable sight, with its ancient buildings seemingly stacked on top of each other along the cliffside. The charming medieval streets are lined with shops selling local handicrafts, goat cheese, and other regional specialties.

Rocamadour's unique blend of spirituality, history, and natural grandeur makes it an unforgettable destination for travelers seeking a profound and visually stunning experience in the heart of France.

Rocamadour is classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the St James' Way pilgrimage route.

Quick History of Rocamadour   3D Map

Rocamadour boasts a rich history dating back over a thousand years. Its story intertwines with legends of miraculous happenings and the rise of religious pilgrimage.

According to legend, Rocamadour's name originates from Saint Amadour, a hermit who sought refuge in the region during the 1st century AD. He is said to have carved a small chapel into the limestone cliffs where he lived out his days in prayer and contemplation. After his death, the site became a place of pilgrimage.

In the 12th century, Rocamadour became a significant pilgrimage destination during the Middle Ages, attracting pilgrims from across Europe. The village's religious significance was further elevated with the discovery of the purported remains of Saint Amadour, which were found perfectly preserved within the cliffs.

During the Hundred Years' War in the 14th and 15th centuries, Rocamadour suffered damage but managed to survive, retaining its allure as a place of spiritual devotion. Its strategic location along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela ensured its continued importance.

Rocamadour experienced periods of decline and revival throughout the centuries, but its spiritual significance endured. In the 19th century, the village underwent restoration efforts, preserving its medieval character and attracting tourists fascinated by its blend of religious and architectural heritage.

Exploring Rocamadour 

Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Explore Rocamadour, a dramatic cliffside pilgrimage site in France! Medieval citadel, sacred sanctuaries & breathtaking views await. Hike or take the cable car, discover religious history & legends. Perfect for history buffs, spiritual seekers & nature lovers.
Plan Your Visit to Rocamadour 

   How do I get to Rocamadour?

You could consider driving, or taking a train;

  • By Train: The nearest train station to Rocamadour is the Rocamadour-Padirac railway station 4.6 kilometers northeast of Rocamadour and 8 kilometers west of Padirac, Occitanie, France. Trains arrive three times a day from Brive in the north and six times a day from Capdenac in the south; for transport from the station, your only option is to call a taxi (phone numbers are posted at the station).
  • By Car from Sarlat: Follow the D-704A, D-703 and D-804 to D-43 in Souillac, stay on the D-43 to the D-247 in Rocamadour.
  • By Bus tour: Either Viator or Get Your Guide may have bus tours that you can investigate.
  • Where is Parking for Rocamadour?: The parking lot is a just a few blocks from the visitor center on the right and from a magnificent viewpoint of Rocamadour on the left. Parking P2 is right behind the chateau. Here is a Google Search Results link for "parking near Rocamadour".
  • Rocamadour Entrance Tickets: Entrance to the Rocamadour ramparts costs €/$2 (per person to be paid in cash) before entering.
  • Rocamadour Hours: Summer 09.00 – 19.00; Winter 09.00 – 18.00.
  • Best Time to Visit Rocamadour: Between mid-April and mid-October Rocamadour tourism visits are over two million visitors. Go early in the day to insure you can find parking and entrance without waiting.
  • Are the Rocamadour Stairs Steep?: Yes, so we parked at the top and walked down to the lower levels, which allowed us to take the lifts back to the top after we completed our exploration. The stairs from level to level are steep, but there are flat spots at each level with amazing views of the Alzou river below.
More Info for Rocamadour 

The first column below ("All Trip Destinations") lists all of our major trip destinations (for this trip) and the next four columns list each of our trip "basecamps" and then a list of what we explored from that basecamp. Each destination name is linked to it's page - so all you need to do is click that name.

 

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