|Historic Trail in the Lot||
"FOOTLOOSE IN ROCAMADOUR"
|Footloose in Rural France at its best|
|Before our walk begins we meet tourism guide Emeline Chorro, who tells us about the area and what we can expect to see. The trail starts in busy Bretenoux and we set out through rich farmland, so typical of the area known historically as Quercy. Stopping to explore the ancient and impressive Chateau Castelnau-Bretenoux, reminds us that this region was once the battleground for the Hundred Years' War between the French and the English. We follow in the steps of pilgrims through stunning Autoire, with its amazing limestone cliff to reach Loubressac, high on the Causse de Gramat.|
Passing over the dry pastures we find the ruined castle of Taillefer with spectacular views of the Dordogne river. It's not too far then to reach medieval Carennac, with its distinctive Quercy houses, church and priory.
As we are half way to Rocamadour, we decide to make a side trip to the nearby Gouffre de Padirac, an amazing chasm in the limestone Causse, which was once a huge underground cavern until the roof fell in thousands of years ago. It has been open to the public for over a century. Better still, included in the entrance ticket is an underground boat ride on the 'Silent River'. Our guide is Dennis de Metz who takes us on a subterranean tour culminating at the Great Dome Chamber ...one of the best in Europe. We return back to Carennac to begin the second half of our trail to Rocamadour.
|La Cité Religieuse|
on the trail, we pass by the village of Floirac and climb the limestone
cliffs back up to the top of the Causse again, stopping briefly at the unspoilt
village of Montvalent with more views of the Dordogne valley. It's only
10 kilometres across the natural parkland to reach L'Hospitalet, the
last resting place for pilgrims. They would then travel down the 'Voie
Sainte' into the religious city of Rocamadour, clinging fantastically to
the side of the Alzou Gorge. We meet Emeline again and Abbé Ronan de
Gouvello, the priest of the Shrine of the Black Madonna. Between
them they tell the story of the amazing city on the rock and why
pilgrims have arrived there for centuries. Père Ronan warns us to be
careful what we pray for, and a candlelit procession reminds us just how
important this religious site is.
Find out more in DEBRA'S DIARY