ROCAMADOUR DORDOGNE VALLEY
Heritage and nature in perfect harmony
Why visit Rocamadour and the Dordogne Valley?
- Rocamadour, a holy clifftop city.
- The Dordogne Valley's villages: Bretenoux, Saint-Céré, Martel, Souillac, Gramat plus Autoire, Carennac and Loubressac (listed as the Most Beautiful Villages in France).
- Château de Castelnau-Bretenoux and Château de Montal.
- A land approved as a Pays d’Art et d’Histoire.
- Padirac Cave, the most famous cave in France.
Walk or take a ride up to the château at the top overlooking Rocamadour. You'll have sweeping views of the town from the top of the belvedere.
Explore the holy town between heaven and earth
As you go round a bend in the road, Rocamadour looms before you. Whether it's day or night you're bound to be blown away. The vertical village, built in a series of stages on the clifftop, hangs 150m above the Alzou canyon. The houses, rocks and churches all look like they're part of the rock.
This village with a population of 630 is one of the most visited sites in France. You enter the village through the fortified Figuier gateway before going along Rocamadour's only street, the bustling Rue de la Couronnerie lined with shops and restaurants.
The area in and around Rocamadour is classed as the Causses du Quercy Regional Nature Park listed as a UNESCO World Geopark.
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IN THE SANCTUARY
Feel the mystical power of Rocamadour
Rocamadour was first and foremost a pilgrimage hotspot. The village is home to the relics of Saint Amadour and was the revered sanctuary for the Black Madonna.
Pilgrims came from all over Europe to pray here from the 12th century. Like them, go up the great staircase's 216 steps to the Sanctuary's esplanade where you'll find 8 churches and chapels built on the cliffside. Must-sees: Notre-Dame Chapel and its statue of the Black Madonna, a small black wooden silhouette from the 12th century with an impressive halo.
Saint-Sauveur Church and the Saint-Amadour crypt are listed as world heritage sites by UNESCO due to their importance in the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.
Step into a biosphere reserve
It takes less than half an hour to reach the Dordogne Valley from Rocamadour. From Sousceyrac in the east to Souillac in the west (approx. 60km), follow the twists and turns lined with cliffs and a thick leafy curtain dotted with sandy islands and quiet little pebble beaches.
The Dordogne is rich in flora and fauna and the only river in France whose basin is listed as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. You can swim in its clear water, go fishing, canoeing or have a walk or bike ride on the banks.
Go 103m underground! Padirac Cave is one of the greatest geological curiosities in France. Gaze at its vast galleries and huge concretions by boat or on foot.
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Enter a dreamworld as you visit its villages and châteaus
You don't need to leave your natural haven to visit the magical Dordogne Valley villages: Bretenoux, a lovely 13th century bastide; Martel and its medieval houses; Saint-Céré overlooked by Château de Saint-Laurent-les-Tours which is home to the Jean Lurçat Museum and not forgetting Souillac and Gramat.
You'll also fall in love with the trio of villages listed as some of the most beautiful in France: Autoire, Loubressac and Carennac (visit Château des Doyens, Saint-Pierre Church and its cloister).
Other must-sees: the Châteaus of Montal and Castelnau-Bretenoux.
Get on board an authentic steam train in Martel and take the railway partly dug into the cliff overlooking the entire Dordogne Valley like a balcony. Spectacular views and thrills guaranteed.
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The Dordogne Valley, an amazing adventure
Unleash your inner adventurer and go canoeing on the Dordogne, hiking to the Cirque d’Autoire waterfall, visit the monkeys at the Forêt des Singes or meet the birds at the Rocher des Aigles in Rocamadour. Video 3 :48 © Office de Tourisme Vallée de la Dordogne.
La Dordogne est un spot incontournable du canoë dans le sud de la France. Suivez Cathy, notre experte Tourisme Lot : elle vous donne ses bons plans pour une expérience canoë magique entre Gluges et Pinsac (soit 19 km de bonheur !).
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Rocamadour and the Dordogne Valley are in the Lot department in the northern Occitania region 165km from Toulouse.
- By car: 2 hrs from Toulouse on the A62 then A20 junction 56. 2 hrs 45 mins from Bordeaux on the A89 then A20 junction 54. 5 hrs 20 mins from Paris on the A10 then A71 and A20 junction 54.
- By plane: the nearest airport is Brive/Dordogne Valley (45 mins) with regular flights to/from Paris and Lyon all year, London from March to October and Ajaccio from June to September.
- By train: a regional train (TER) connects Rocamadour-Padirac station to Brive and Figeac.