|Early evening in Rocamadour|
We parked right outside the hotel in Rocamadour l'Hospitalet and entered the reception by the bar, the view over the valley being cleverly concealed by the side of the building. Inside, our tired eyes took in the interior, but failed to notice the view from the terrace behind us, so knowing we had paid a bit extra for a room with a view, we entered our room excited to catch our first glimpse of Rocamadour. However the shutters were down so still we saw nothing, until we waited for them to slowly rise up.
It was stunning. An uninterrupted view of the valley, the rocks and the perched village set into the rocks over many levels with an imposing church at the top. What surprised me most during our stay was that the view kept changing and each time I looked it seemed better than the last. There was a slight haze when we arrived, but as we dined on the hotel terrace and the sun began to set it started to glow.
|Dinner overlooking Rocamadour|
Back in our room at sunset it looked fabulous.
|Sunset at Rocamadour|
After dark it was illuminated and I could have sat and watched it all night.
|Rocamadour at night|
The following morning, the early dawn light gave it natural highlights and I thought that was my favourite view.
|First light at Rocamadour|
But then, although the cloud came down a little it couldn't spoil the amazing sight of hot air balloons rising from the valley floor between us and the village. This changing view alone was worth staying in Rocamadour l'Hospitalet, in my opinion.
|Hot air balloons at Rocamadour|
We were up and out early, although not quite as early as the balloonists, to do some walking and exploring with high hopes of beating the crowds and enjoying our breakfast croissant in Rocamadour. Gizmo enjoyed his roar down the valley and through the tunnel and we were delighted to find the parking was free until 10.00am, so leaving the car by one of the stone gateways we set off on foot through the narrow streets.
It seems that Rocamadour, like Sarlat, is (unfortunately) not a morning place and although the neck-cricking views of the churches are certainly very impressive from the lower streets looking up, the deserted village gave the impression we shouldn't be there yet. We climbed (most of) the 200 steps of the Grand Escalier that links the lower village with the higher places of worship, on our feet rather than our knees as many pilgrims before us had done, but we were alone in our journey and our footsteps echoed eerily.
We failed to find a boulangerie to buy our croissants or a café open for a simple coffee, even the tourist shops selling knives and smart phone cases were shuttered closed, although what they would add to village life is questionable in my opinion. A real village should be about daily life rather than just tourist attractions that open when the parking charges apply and we felt more like we were out of hours visitors to a theme park than travelers taking a morning wander in a living village. Sadly, with 260 kms to drive we were on the road long before Rocamadour opened for business, although the nice lady with the farm shop just out of town was very happy to talk to us about her duck products, sell us some tasty rillettes for lunch and some wine to take home for a celebratory drink with Adrian's parents.