Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rocamadour

What gets me about this place is its verticality. I suppose that's what gets everyone about this place, but I can't speak for everyone. Yes, the main street is pretty flat, but it's the only street in town, and everything is either on it, above it, or below it.

Rocamadour clings to the cliffs in the gorges of the Alzou.

There's an old (1982 !) French song by Gérard Blanchard about Rocamadour. "My love has gone with a wolf into the caves of Rocamadour," it goes. "Mon amour est partie avec un loup dans les grottes de Rock Amadour." It's a frenzy of a song. "Elle est si jolie..."

Looking up from below.

The town legend is that, in the caves on the cliff side, Saint Amadour, previously known by the name Zachée, took refuge from the world, being a hermit and all. He liked the rocks. He was a liker of rocks, sort of a rock amateur. Roc amator. Roc Amadour. Rocamadour. You can see how it goes. Occitane morphs into French, right before your eyes.

Since then all manner of religious construction has taken place around the cave-spot, and these buildings on the cliff are the result.

More verticality.

I've been there a few times, or at least a couple. It's a fun place to visit, but not in the summer. Summer is when everyone, and his brother, likes to visit Rocamadour. The town is kitsch shop after kitsch shop, interspersed with overpriced eateries. And you have to fight sweaty tourists along the way.

But still.


6 comments:

  1. Here, in the States, they would raze the hill and build on flat terrain with huge, beautiful parking lots!

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  2. But still, Rocamadour is quite a sight to see! We parked in the lot on top and had a picnic fun before walking all around.

    I found a little bit of tapestry in the form of a map of France which I made into a cute little pillow. Some kitsh looks good when you get it back home.

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  3. Kitsch shop after kitsch shop...sounds exactly like Carcassonne!

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  4. Beautiful photos, impressive architecture!

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  5. Claudia in Toronto24 January, 2008 05:53

    I love the view, and the tale. You make the stones speak..
    I could not climb though. C'est trop à pic!

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  6. When I was in Stanford in Tours in 1980, they took us on a visit to the Dordogne area and we stayed in a hotel in lower Rocamadour. I was amazed by the place, and since we were there in October, there was hardly a soul around. Part of the visit included a drunken, late-night walk (or crawl for some) up a precipitous trail from the bottom to the top.

    I agree that it's horrible in summer -- what French tourist mecca isn't? I've made several off-season visits there that have been very pleasant. And you're right, the restaurants are definitely disappointing. Bring a picnic.

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