Be amazed by this cliff-clinging medieval village in beautiful southern France
For a small village in the Lot department of France to attract more than one million visitors each year, it has to be extraordinary. First impressions don't disappoint: Rocamadour is a destination quite unlike any other.
The entire village clings - seemingly precariously - to the side of a towering and steep cliff-face, atop which stands an imposing fourteenth-century castle. Standing above a tributary of the Dordogne River and surrounded by rolling forested hills, Rocamadour resembles something from a fairy tale.
Besides the village's spectacular and gravity-defying location, Rocamadour's popularity rests upon its reputation as a place of miracles. Deemed to be the final resting place of the Biblical Saint Zacheus, whose supposed remains were discovered in a fissure in the cliff face, Rocamadour quickly became a pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. A series of chapels, known as the Sanctuaries, built halfway down the cliff between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, contain many historic religious artefacts including a wooden carving; the 'Black Madonna', to which many miracles of healing have been attributed.
An ancient flight of stone steps zig-zags up the cliff face to Rocamadour's various sites of historic interest, but there is also a modern lift to ensure accessibility for everyone. The 'old village' at the foot of the cliff is a delightful jumble of medieval buildings and contemporary shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels.