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Honestly, did you like Rocamadour? Should we spend the night there or ?

Honestly, did you like Rocamadour? Should we spend the night there or ?

Feb 1st, 2007, 04:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 509
Honestly, did you like Rocamadour? Should we spend the night there or ?

I'm looking for an overnight stop between Albi and Sarlat. The plan is to leave Albi sometime before noon, stop at Cordes-sur-Ciel for lunch and a quick stroll around, then stop at Figeac for a mid-afternoon walk, and then drive to our overnight destination. The next day, we'll do a loop around those pretty villages of St Cere, Autoir, Loubressac, Carennac, Martel, etc., and then we'll head to Sarlat, arriving early evening, where we are spending the next 4 nights.

Many posts suggest arriving at Rocamadour in the evening, after the tour buses have left, and enjoying its medieval atmosphere. Our plan would put us in Rocamadour sometime after 6:00 PM, so it certainly fits with the idea of arriving as tours are leaving. I'm just wondering if it's worth seeing. It seems to be a 3-star destination, but I know that I was somewhat disapointed with Assisi, which sounds like it would be similar (too many religious tourists, too many stores selling kitchy, cheap, Made-in-China saints and rosaries). We LOOOOVE medieval towns and love to spend the night in them, so that's why we're considering Rocamadour. In Rocamadour, we would probably stay at the Beau Site hotel, as Domaine de la Rhue (neraby) does not open for 2 more days. Has anyone stayed at the Beau Site?

Other options that I have written down are:

Relais des Gourmands - Gramat (a Fodorite recommended this, it seems to have a very good restaurant)

Lion d'Or - Gramat

Les Vieilles Tours - near Rocamadour, but not on the town

La Terasse - Meyronne

Relais St. Anne - Martel

Does anyone have any input on any of these places or any feelings regarding spending the night in Rocamadour or elsewhere around that area?
Mariarosa is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Rocamadour is way better than Asisi, I know what you meant. It is more steep & vertically oriented than Asisi plus the stone buildings & structures are more interesting. I enjoy the views from all the different restaurant terraces. Sorry i can't help you with restarants & hotels, it was rather blurry as we travelled with 5 kids at that time.
DAX is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 07:22 AM
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Hi M,

Nice plan.

We were less than impressed by St. Cere.

Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, is a very pretty town.

I think that you want to include Collonges-la-Rouge in your drive to Sarlat.

ira is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 07:31 AM
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I visited Rocamadour with friends.

I am a believer,though not a Roman Catholic. They are not believers.

I found Rocamadour very moving, even with the abundant honky tonk aspects. My friends were ready to leave in half an hour.

What you get depends on what you bring. If you are not a believer, you may find an overnight stay oppressive.
Ackislander is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:07 AM
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In my opinion, Ackislander's post is exactly right about Rocamadour. I felt the same way his friends did.
Bree is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:21 AM
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About five years ago we stayed just outside of Rocamadour for three nights. I can't remember the name, but it was a several hundred year old manor house with lodgings which were converted stables. There was a pool and lovely terrace for breakfast. We loved the place. We hiked into Rocomadour one afternoon and had dinner there a couple of nights, once at the Beau hotel restaurant. It was lovely. We didn't stay at the Beau hotel, but I think that would be a good choice for inside the village. If you have time in the area, canoe on the Dordogne River. It was one of the highlights of our visit.

Rocamoadour is not as bad as Assisi.
dgg is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:41 AM
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Well, now I'm expecting art in Rocamadour that's "not as bad" as the Giotto and Cimabue frescoes in the basilica. Can't wait to get there!

Leely is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:43 AM
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So far, nobody has stated that they spent the night there without the tourists, and with most of the tacky souvenier shops closed.

We got there very early (8:30am) in '05 and enjoyed it quite a bit without these two distractions. As we left around 11, my wife & I (we are very serious architecture lovers) had to constantly remind ourselves to focus our vision on sections of the buildings above the ground floor, where all the tacky stuff is. This helps.

We've stayed in Assisi, San Gimignano, & Annecy overnight (all crowded places with tacky souvenier stuff) and it's completly different then. We arrived at Mt St Michel at 8:30am, and were out of there by 11 when it was shoulder-to-shoulder people and postcard stands were in front of every shop. Same with Carcassonne. All these places take on a different character without the tourist & tacky stuff.

Seems to me that Rocamadour would be a wonderful place to spend the night if you'll be there around 6:00 anyway. I don't remember as much religious stuff there as in Assisi. We were at Rocamadour one other time in the 90s at mid-day and did not enjoy our visit.

Make sure you get a view of Rocamadour from Hostpitalet (the traditional view) AND from the D36/D32 split heading west on the D32 until the fantastic view of Rocamadour disappears.

IMO, Rocamadour is a "must see" in that region - but without distractions.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Rocamadour, as everyone there will tell you, is the "deuxième site de France," meaning the most popular pilgrimge site after le Mont St-Michel. And just like le MSM, it is filled with hawkers of religious trinkets, crappy t-shirt stores, bad snack bars, and all the rest.

That said, it's geographic position is a marvel, the Black Virgin and Saint-Amadour are pretty interesting, and the parts sof the town not filled with souvenir stands are fun to stroll around in.

I've never been there at night, but I imagine that, like le MSM, it takes on a rather magical aspect when the tourists have departed and the sun goes down.

If it's convenient, I'd spend the night. By the same token, I wouldn't make a big plan that revolves around getting to spend the night there.

And I agree with ira about St-Céré, though the Lucárd museum (when it's open) is fabulous.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:11 AM
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Well, I agree with others who say that if you are indeed at Rocamadour around 6 you might as well stay there. It is a wonderful location, but as one of our guests here said, 'It's like Niagara Falls.' A fabulous site that has almost been ruined by too much tourist stuff.

We feel the best way to approach Rocamadour is to look down on it from the Hospitalet above, walk down to the church of the Black Virgin, perhaps do a quick walk along the main street, and that's enough.

You don't mention at what time of year you'll be there, but if it's the summer, even in the late afternoon I wouldn't try to approach the town through the canyon leading up to the narrow entrance. I have a friend who spent 4 hours in a traffic jam trying to get into town, and never dit.

Depending on your timing, you might want to stay in Figeac, which we like a lot, but I don't have a hotel recommendation there.

Otherwise, Martel is lovely, romantic and evocative. Wonderful at night when the lights are on the many towers.Henry II's oldest son died there, cursed they say after sacking Rocamadour, and that's how Richard Lion heart got to be king. We haven't stayed at relais ste Anne, but i'v heard good things about it.
Carlux is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:15 AM
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One more comment, as somehow my first part got posted.

I too wouldn't bother with St Cere. Lots of other more interesting towns and villages. I'm impressed that St Cirq got to see the museum there, as we've never managed to get in. Gramat too is pretty boring. The Lion d'Or may be a nice hotel, but it's on a big open square, with nothing very charming in view.
Carlux is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 12:29 PM
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We've actually spent the night at Rocamadour and stayed at the Beau Site. It was pleasant after the tourists left but not nearly as charming as Assisi.
Marija is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 04:25 PM
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In our experience the parking lot above Rocamadour was easier to get parking than at the bottom. We simply took the glass elevator down into Rocamadour.
DAX is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 05:20 PM
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I agree - park in the lot above and take the funicular down into town.

And I second the recommendation to visit or stay in Martel (la ville des sept tours). I love that town!
StCirq is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 06:04 PM
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I spent 2 nights at Domaine de la Rhue, which was lovely. Had dinner one night at the Restaurant du Chateau (up above Rocamadour) and enjoyed very much.
I think Rocamadour is well worth seeing, "believer" or not. I was there on a Sunday morning in May, and while there were alot of people, it didn't seem crowded to me. I enjoyed a leisurely walk down from the Hospitalet parking above, then took the funicular back up. After my A.M. visit to Rocamadour I visited the Grouffre de Padirac (VERY interesting)and fun, altho you probably wouldn't have time for that with your driving plans for next day. I agree, skip St. Cere.

If I were you, I would skip Figeac, and see the Pech Merle caves instead on your way north. Figeac is pretty and has some nice architecture, but Pech Merle is fantastic! It's also not as crowded as the caves in the Dordogne - I had a reservation, but didn't need it.
I spent my last 2 nights in Figeac before turning in my car to train back to Paris. It was OK, as I drove around the Lot Valley and the Cele Valley from there, but the town itself didn't particularly turn me on. I sort of wished I had stayed in Cahors instead. Just my opinion - maybe it's because I didn't like the Best Western Hotel in Figeac (Hotel Pont d'Or)!

The loop drive around Autoire, Loubressace, Carennac is gorgeous! Definitely don't miss that. I stayed in Sarlat for 5 days, and loved the whole area. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.
Sue4 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:18 PM
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We were to Rocamadour about 10 years ago. I think we stayed at the Lion d'Or, and it also had a good restaurant. The souvenir-heavy atmosphere was like Carcasson, and it would be oppressive during prime tour arrival time, I am sure.

What we did was arrive in the evening and get up early and walk the old sections on our own well before the onset of the touring hordes. There was a Mass taking place in the old chapel then, and it would be a highlight for any Catholic who wanted to attend mass in a medieval site. There is also a nice walk from the lower city to an upper area, with stations of the cross.

I strongly agree that the Grotte de Pech Merle is a must if you are near the area. Unlike the more famous caves, this one is the real thing, not a modern replica. The cave is large enough to contain the entire Cathedral of Notre Dame. There are cave paintings, human footprints, and amazing natural formations. Only a limited number of persons can take each tour, so reservations are needed much of the time. I would not miss it, if I were you.

Overall, places like Rocamadour and Carcasson are much more about the modern tourism industry than history, and virtually anything you will see has been reconstructed rather than preserved. Pech Merle is real.

AJPeabody is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 08:38 PM
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<<Overall, places like Rocamadour and Carcasson are much more about the modern tourism industry than history, and virtually anything you will see has been reconstructed rather than preserved. Pech Merle is real.>>

I totally beg to differ...

Actually, places like Rocamadour and Carcassonne ...and le Mont St-Michel... are very, very much like what they were in the Middle Ages, with pilgrims falling all over each other and cheap souvenir sellers dominating the main walkways. You would in fact be hard-pressed to find atmospheres so compellingly like what was going on in the Middle Ages than by visiting places like this...like it or not. They are absolutely living history....
StCirq is offline  

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