Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rocamadour France, August 2011

I'm not saving the best for last. I have many more photos to share, but this is the largest set of photos from any town or village we visited. Rocamadour was my favorite, even though the day was murderously hot, driving to the town was treacherous and climbing in the heat took everything out of me. It was worth it! I hope I've captured a bit of the surprising beauty of this unusual place.

I have misplaced my journal and can't remember the name of the tiny village where we stopped for lunch, but we enjoyed the quaint beauty of our surroundings very much as we ate the lunches we had wisely packed that day.

"Mairie" is the name for the mayor's office. Almost every small village has a building with this name on it. We parked across from this one and picnicked in a little park-like area to its side.

Here is our lunch view.

If I see wash on the line, I have been known to turn around to take photos of it. I don't know why - memories of childhood, maybe. Mom always hid the 'unmentionables' between rows of towels, sheets or other clothing, but there is no such compunction here.

I was driving and couldn't stop to take photos of the roadway - a very narrow maze of S curves with blind spots at each turn. We were almost hit by a man pulling a trailer...much too wide for the conditions, and very frightening. The cyclists we saw included an elderly man who must have been in great shape to manage the hills. (Or maybe he was only 30 and many scares on this road just made him look old!)

The first sight of Rocamadour rising out of the cliff-side was magical. Thankfully, there were a few small pull-offs to allow for gawking and photo-taking.

Inside Rocamadour, the seven churches offered many treasures to see as well, and the touristy shopping area was fun. We climbed about half way up to the top, and despite the enthusiastic recommendation of two young people we'd asked about the value of climbing further, due to the heat and the fact that we are not eighteen anymore, we opted to forgo the view experience. This YouTube video shows that I probably should have acted young and climbed anyway!

Many of the buildings seem to be actually growing out of the cliff. Amazing place!

I liked the delicate leaf carvings and the lovely lettering in this arch.

Rocamadour is known for centuries of pilgrimages - pilgrims on their knees climbing to the top of the hill, resting at tiny stations along the way (which explains the shallowness of the steps), and for the Black Madonna, reported to have worked miracles. The crudely carved Black Madonna icon is in one of the smaller church chapels and was surprisingly diminutive.

I liked this angel inside the same church as the Black Madonna.

The Black Madonna.

My favorite shop had a grumpy owner, and prices higher than I wanted to pay for truly beautiful things. Airline luggage restrictions and shipping considerations would have made many purchases (china and objets d'art) ridiculously high anyway.

This fun pottery was at a friendlier shop, but the same restrictions apply - I have a feeling that many shop owners have seen a big reduction in sales of heavy objects to international travelers.

This church turret stood out so nicely against the beautiful blue sky.

The specks you see in the sky are birds. Notice the very Gothic steeple peeking out.
Imagine how much work this had to have been to build! This church is centuries old.

My telephoto lens allowed me to capture this view of a neighboring village.

Did I say, "I love Rocamadour"? I do. I doubt that tour buses could get there - at least not by the route we took, but it is well worth finding a way to visit if you are in the south of France. Here is a video produced by the tourism bureau there...some exquisite shots!

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