Rocamadour is a sacred medieval clifftop village, one of the most beautiful villages in France. Since the Middle Ages, Rocamadour has been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Christians.
This village has attracted millions of tourists and ranked as the second most visited town in France next to Mont-Saint-Michel.
It is no doubt. With the miracles and quaint structures in Rocamadour, people will surely come and visit this wondrous village. Not to mention the scenic location where Rocamadour is.
Travelers and tourists who have watched fantasy movies or medieval series will surely love Rocamadour.
In this blog post, you will know why you should add Rocamadour to your France travel bucket list, as well as the things to do in Rocamadour. Frequently asked questions about Rocamadour are answered.
I wrote this post because I want this to be my guide when I visit France. Besides, I really love beautiful landscapes and quaint villages. Rocamadour falls into both categories, so this is really going to be a heartfelt travel plan! 😀
I hope this blog post can help you! Have safe travels 🙂
Before anything else, let’s make Rocamadour even more exciting by knowing what this place is all about:
Introduction to Rocamadour
Very Brief History of Rocamadour
Rocamadour is one of the world’s famous pilgrimage sites, a village home to religious emblems and centuries-old churches that draw hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Its prominence for Christianity has been recognized as early as the middle ages. For centuries, many people, including musicians, saints, and explorers, visited Rocamadour to pray and ask for divine guidance.
Even kings and queens have set foot in Rocamadour too! Three of the many royals that have been here are Henry II of England, Blanche of Castile, and Louis IX of France.
Today, Rocamadour has become more than just a pilgrimage site. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, admired for the exquisitely preserved medieval village and devout structures.
The medieval appearance of Rocamadour isn’t only the one that makes it exceptional, but also its scenic location.
Where is Rocamadour?
Rocamadour is a village located in the Lot department, southwestern France, sitting on a limestone cliff. It overlooks the Alzou canyon and the tributary of the River Dordogne. See the maps below:
Rocamadour, situated on a clifftop, blesses the visitors’ eyes with a rustic appearance – beautiful to look at from all angles.
By the view alone, everyone would fall in love with this village at first sight. It is a reason why tourists and travelers are enticed to visit Rocamadour, absolutely.
This beautiful village is also located at the heart of arc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy, France’s regional nature park.
Coming to Rocamadour would not only be a chance to see medieval structures and religious emblems. It will also be an experience with nature.
What is Rocamadour famous for?
The scenic views and the medieval houses are one of its attractions. But, Rocamadour is more famous for its churches, monastic structures, and ultimately the Black Virgin. Thousands of pilgrims come to Rocamadour for a personal experience with the Black Virgin.
The Black Virgin is a miraculous sculpture of the Virgin Mary sitting with the child Jesus in her lap. For more than a thousand years, thousands of pilgrims have come to Rocamadour to venerated the Black Virgin.
By the way, I wrote a post about the 10 most beautiful villages in the south of France. There, I give you a summary of things to expect, to see, or to experience from each place.
Things to do in Rocamadour
It provides you an idea of which village to go to and what fits your personality as a traveler. Just click the link above to proceed. 🙂 Have safe travels!Things to do in Rocamadour
In this section, we will talk about the different things to do in Rocamadour. The activities are located in the following parts of the commune:
- Rocamadour Village – the southern portion of Rocamadour. It is the actual village on the cliff, parallel to Alzou Valley.
- L’Hospitalet Village – the northern section of Rocamadour. It is the village facing Alzou valley to the south.
- The Sanctuaries – the spot where most of the churches are clustered together. It is located just beside the Rocamadour valley, accessible by the Grand Staircase.
Viewpoint over Rocamadour
Let’s kick off this list of things to do in Rocamadour with the scenic viewpoint.
This viewpoint is located in the village of L’Hospitalet, 2 minutes away from the parking lots and few steps away from Hôtel Restaurant Le Belvédère. Here is the Google Maps Location of the viewpoint in case you need precise directions.
At this viewpoint, you will observe the scenic canyon where Rocamadour village is. It shall let you see the whole picture of the place that you will explore for the day. Have a look at this 360 shot:
This viewpoint is also the perfect spot to watch the hot air balloon festival occurring every last weekend of September. The festival lasts for 2 days (Saturday and Sunday).
It is best to go in this viewpoint during sunrise when the sky is clear. If the weather is fantastic, you would be able to see the sun’s hard light striking Rocamadour at a beautiful angle, highlighting the details of the structures in golden colors.
Don’t you ever forget to bring your cameras! Absolutely, it’s going to be such a spectacle.
Chapel of l’Hospitalet & Ruins of the old hospital
After you see the gorges and Rocamadour Village from the viewpoint located in L’Hospitalet Village, I’m sure you’ll be absolutely excited to go straight to the castles.
But wait! There is another thing to do in L’Hospitalet Village for you – a quick visit to the Chapel of L’Hospitalet & Ruins of the old hospital.
The ruins and chapel are along the way to the Rocamadour Village from the viewpoint of L’Hospitalet Village. Just walk westward, and you shall arrive at the chapel.
The chapel was built during the 11th-century, quaint and old-looking. Perhaps, it can serve as an eye-appetizer to what awaits in the Rocamadour Village. Exploring the area will not take more than five minutes.
Medieval Village of Rocamadour
Going to the Rocamadour village on foot
After the chapel and the old hospital ruins, continue walking west, and you’ll arrive at the road called “Sacred Way.” You’ll know you’re there when you see the Porte de l’Hospital (l’Hospitalet Gate). See in Google Maps the location of the gate here.
It is a narrow road that connects the village of L’Hospitalet and Rocamadour. In Google Maps, it’s labeled Au Fonde de la Cote. Don’t be confused. The Sacred Way and the Au Fonde de la Cote are the same roads.
The total walking time to reach the Rocamadour village (Porte du Figuier gate) from the chapel is around 10 minutes. There are sleep parts of the road, so be careful.
The view from the Sacred Way is scenic. You’ll see the Bishop castle and portions of the canyon from there. It’s going to be a fantastic walk, absolutely.
If the pathway is closed, you can try going to the Rocamadour Village from the hilltop route D200 (Les Esclargies road).
Going to the Rocamadour village by car
If you have a car, you can only use them up until the Porte du Figuier gate. Rocamadour village is car-free. There are parking lots outside the gates where you leave your auto. To reach the gate, you must use road D32 instead of Au Fonde de la Cote road.
There is another route for cars. However, it will lead you straight to the upper portion of the Rocamadour Village. You can use the road D200 (Les Esclargies road) to get there.
Exploring the Rocamadour village
When you reach the gate Porte du Figuier, you can start doing the next activity on this “list of things to do in Rocamadour:” Stroll and explore the medieval village.
The village is built on 3 successive levels. You can expect that there will be a lot of little things to discover. Take your time and feel the moment. Imagine that you are the lead character of your own medieval movie. LOL.
Here are the things that you can see discover in the Rocamadour village (excluding the sanctuaries):
Structures in Rocamadour Villlage
Even before entering the gate, you would see some beautiful old stone houses with lauzé and terracotta-style roofs already. Then, as soon as you enter Rocamadour Village, you’ll feel that you just time traveled! More beautiful quaint buildings and shops you will see.
7 Gates of Rocamadour Village
- Porte Hugon (The Hugon gate) – gate near Rocamadour Village intersection
- Porte Basse (The Lower gate) – along village main street
- Porte Salmon or (The Salmon gate) – another gate along the village main street
- Porte Cabilliere (Cabilliere gate) – village’s southernmost gate
- Porte du Figuier (The Fig-Tree gate) – entrance from Sacred Way from l’Hospitalet Village
- Porte Saint-Martial (Saint-Martial gate) – gateway to the Sanctuaries.
- Porte Sainte (Holy door) – passage to Chemin de Ronde from the Sanctuaries
Other parts of Rocamadour Village
Once you pass the Porte du Figuier gate, you immediately arrive at Rue Roland le Preux, a lane full of charming shops and restaurants. Along this lane, there is Côté Rocher, a comedy, theatrical experience you must try in Rocamadour. (I wrote a separate section for this)
You can finish walking the whole Roland le Preux lane in less than 5 minutes (from Porte du Figuier to Le Grand Escalier) if you want to.
Rocamadour Le Grand Escalier
Before you reach Porte Hugon at the end of Roland le Preux lane, you can find the Rocamadour Le Grand Escalier (The Grand Staircase). It is the way to the seven monumental sanctuaries that await you in the higher sections of Rocamadour.
How many steps does Rocamadour Grand Staircase have?
Rocamadour Grand Staircase has 216 steps overall. In the past, pilgrims have a tradition of moving upstairs on their knees as an act of penance. Today, it is discouraged, and everybody is invited to join the village tours instead.
Along Rue Roland le Preux lane, you can find the cafe theater Côté Rocher. It is a highly rated restaurant in Rocamadour offering humorous shows in the evenings.
Reviews from Google Maps recommend it very well. Customers loved the entertainment and the comedy from Côté Rocher very much. It is one of the fun things to do in Rocamadour if you understand the French language.
There are different shows every week in Côté Rocher. You can check their website or Côté Rocher Facebook page. Each show has a different price. Usually, it’s around 16 EUR. You can reserve or ask questions using the following contact information:
- Phone: 05-65-10-93-39
- Email: [email protected]
Chapels and Castles of Rocamadour
Of course, you would not miss exploring the churches and castles in Rocamadour. It’s the highlight of your visit to the medieval village.
It is absolutely one of the best things to do in Rocamadour. In the sanctuaries, you can find so many pieces of historical and legendary articles. Get ready to be fascinated by centuries-old legends and mind-blowing tales.
The Sanctuaries of Rocamadour village has 6 chapels and 1 basilica. You can reach the sanctuaries through the Grand Staircase or through the lift found in the main street of Rocamadour Village.
Discover things in the parvis (courtyard)
After you took the last step in Rocamadour Grand Staircase, you will arrive at the parvis, the center of the sanctuaries.
Here in the courtyard, you will find the Tomb of Saint Amadour, where the villagers discovered the intact body of Saint Amadour. Today, it is an empty tomb, but you can find the coins thrown by the pilgrims instead.
Also, in the courtyard, you can find Durandal Sword. It is a mythical sword punctured on the patio’s, used to defend France from invaders. Legend says it is a God-given sword that held off 400,000 Saracon soldiers in a war.
When the swordbearer, Roland, knew that he will be captured by the enemy, he asked archangel Michael to cast the sword somewhere can’t be reached by the enemies. He did not want the blade to fall to the wrong hands.
Miraculously, it flew hundreds of kilometers away from the battlefield, landing on the cliff of Rocamadour.
You will see in the 360-image above the tomb of Saint Amadour. Pull down the image above with your finger, and you will find the Durandal Sword.
Chapels and Churches in Rocamadour Village
From the courtyard, you can visit the chapels from the Sanctuaries of Rocamadour. Here are the seven chapels within the religious compound:
- Chapelle Saint-Michel (Saint Michael Chapel)
- Chapelle Saint-Louis (Saint Louis Chapel)
- Chapelle Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Saint John Baptist Chapel)
- Chapelle Saint-Blaise (Saint Blaise Chapel)
- Chapelle Saint-Anne (Saint Anne Chapel)
- Chapel of Notre-Dame de Rocamadour (Notre Dame Chapel)
- Basilique Saint Sauveur (Saint Sauveur Basilica)
Within the sanctuaries, you will also find the crypt of Saint Amadour, the founder of the Our Lady of Rocamadour shrine.
Among the seven monastic structures in the Sanctuaries, the most notable ones are the Notre Dame Chapel and Saint Sauveur Basilica. Notre Dame Chapel is where the Black Virgin is, then Saint Sauveur Basilica is the largest.
Saint Sauveur Basilica was built during the 13th-century, featuring Romanesque style architecture. Inside, it has a wooden 2-story mezzanine capable of accommodating many pilgrims.
What’s impressive about the church is that its body is incorporated into the cliffside. With the technology during the 1200s, it’s hard to imagine how the village built such a big church.
Lastly, you cannot slash out the Sanctuaries from this list of things to do in Rocamadour if you won’t go up another staircase and see turrets from the higher south terrace. See the image below why:
The Chemin de Croix (Stations of the Cross)
From the Sanctuaries, you can come to Bishop’s Palace and other attractions on the top of the cliff through the Stations of the cross. It is an inclined winding pathway. On each turn of the way, you can see a shrine showing the passion of Christ.
The Grotto of the Holy Sepulcher
While you are on the Stations of the Cross, the Grotto of the Holy Sepulcher is one notable portion of the path you can encounter.
At the corner end of the cave, you will see the image of Jesus, who died after being crucified on the cross. You will pass several stone pillars holding the ceiling before you can reach the corner.
Usually, you can enter the Grotto of the Holy Sepulcher and light a candle inside. It is a good thing to do, especially if you a pilgrim.
Croix de Jérusalem
The Stations of the Cross end with the Croix de Jérusalem at the top of the cliff, overlooking the canyon with views of the nearby Bishop’s castle.
Rocamadour Castle (Bishop’s Palace)
From the Croix de Jérusalem, move southwards, and you’ll arrive at the 14th-century Bishop’s Palace, sitting at the cliff above the chapels and basilica.
Visiting the castle is a thing to do in Rocamadour if you want to see panoramic views of the nearby gorges, plains, and the buildings in the village from the top.
Bishop’s Palace was turned into a private property after it was bought for restoration. Entry is 2 EUR.
The Bishop’s Palace is the last destination within the Rocamadour Village if you intend to follow this list of things to do in Rocamadour in sequence from the start.
Outside Rocamadour Village, you can find several other things to do. Mostly, they are parks, museums, and more viewpoints:
If you just finished sightseeing from Bishop’s Castle, Parc Durandal is the next thing to do in Rocamadour for you. It is a theme park and an open-air theater dedicated to equestrian shows.
In Parc Durandal, you can watch medieval-themed plays with atypical characters and offbeat humor. There are also equestrian stunts and fights that you can observe in proximity to the artists!
You’ll see the actors wear combat armors, play with swords, all in phenomenal action!
Parc Durandal can be reached within 10 minutes from Bishop’s Castle or Croix de Jérusalem. A ticket to a show costs 12 EUR per person, 10 EUR for 7 to 15-year-old kids. Children below 7 can watch the shows for free.
There will be shows every day except Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm. There are no reservations, though. You need to come to their ticket office 30 minutes before a show starts.
If you have questions about Parc Durandal, you can send them to the following contact details:
- Phone: +33 6 19 39 18 00
- Email: [email protected]
Rocher des Aigles
Beside Parc Durandal to the west lies another one of the enjoyable things to do in Rocamadour: Visiting Rocher des Aigles. You can reach Rocher des Aigles within two minutes of walking from Parc Durandal.
Rocher des Aigles is a bird park where you can watch fantastic bird performances featuring different fowls from birds of prey to nocturnals to parrots. Here are some of the species you will encounter:
In Rocher des Aigles, the birds are presented with lots of information. You will learn each bird’s characteristics, status, threats, and protection.
Entry for adults is 11 EUR. For kids, it is 7 EUR and free for toddlers. Park’s opening hours and ticket availability depend on several factors. You can check their admission schedule from this link.
Le Coin Du Photographe (Photographer’s Corner)
Go to the Photographer’s corner if you are a photography enthusiast or you just really want to have an excellent shot of Rocamadour. Here it is on the map:
The spot is 5 minutes away (on foot) from Croix de Jérusalem. Just walk north and follow the road Les Esclargies. Eventually, you will come across a platform, and you’ll see this view:
If you have a car, no worries! Across the platform, there is parking where you can leave your auto. Swipe the 360 picture to the right, and you’ll see where the parking is.
Croix de Cufelle
If you have a lot of time and you love hiking, coming to the site of Croix de Cufelle is one of the things to do in Rocamadour that you should not miss, really! It is another photography spot, much better than Photographer’s Corner, in my opinion.
If you must be in the viewpoint in l’Hospitalet Village during sunrise, then it is here, in Croix de Cufelle, you should be during the sunset. That’s only if the weather is clear.
Here is the view from the Croix de Cufelle site:
You will see Rocamadour Village directly from the east when you are at Croix de Cufelle’s site. You will get a whole new perspective of Rocamadour, different from what most travelers see from other viewpoints.
Since the viewpoint is facing west, it can be an opportunity for you to witness a sunset behind Rocamadour Village. Just imagine how beautiful it can be!
If you need directions in hiking, here is a set of instructions from a traveler who made it to the Croix de Cufelle. He also hinted you visit the site to watch the sunset.
At this point, you have read all the activities related to and the things to do near Rocamadour Village. Below, you will see other unmissable activities in Rocamadour near the l’Hospitalet Village.
One of the best things to do in Rocamadour near the l’Hospitalet Village is to have fun with monkeys. Yes, there is a monkey sanctuary nearby, and it is called Monkey Forest!
From the viewpoint in l’Hospitalet Village, walk north and then turn east when you see the intersection near the cemetery. Within 7 minutes, you will arrive at the forest where 150 monkeys live.
Entry is 9.50 EUR for adults and 5.50 EUR for kids 5 to 15 years old. Toddlers below 5 are free to enter.
Opening hours usually start at 10:30 in the morning and closes around 5 in the afternoon. Note that There are noon breaks. The schedule changes depending on different factors such as restrictions/season. Be sure to check the monkey forest website before going!
Musée La Maison des Abeilles (The Bee House)
Aside from Monkeys, you can also meet a lot of bees in Rocamadour! After you finished playing with monkeys, go north, and within 3 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Bee House Museum.
Here you’ll see hundreds of bees in complete safety. There will be bee shows, fun games, an old beehives gallery, and a live apiary exhibit.
It is the best place if you are curious about how bees make honey and if you want to buy nutritious honey.
The museum is free to enter. It is open every day from 10:30 in the morning until 7 in the evening. The museum is closed during lunch breaks.
Grotte Préhistorique des Merveilles (Prehistoric Cave of Wonders)
Last but not least in this list of things to do in Rocamadour is the Prehistoric Cave of Wonders. Here, you will see the ultimate throwback into history with the exhibition of parietal paintings dating 25,000 years ago!
If you are curious about it, and if you want to have a mini-adventure to a cave, head back to the village center of l’Hospitalet.
Prehistoric Cave of Wonders is located next to the Hospitalet Tourist Office. Check the map below for reference:
Is Rocamadour Worth Visiting?
Rocamadour is a beautiful medieval village packed with historically and religiously significant sites. It also has numerous amusing shows and fun activities with nature that suits all ages. With all these fantastic things to do in Rocamadour, it is easy to say that it is worth visiting.
Inspiring Rocamadour Photos
Here are more photos that inspire me to visit Rocamadour. I hope they inspire you too!
Save it on Pinterest.
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