The 1,000 year old city of Rocamadour is one of the most visited sites in France. It is a stunningly beautiful multi-layered stack of stone houses, churches, chapels and monastic buildings topped with a castle. Built into a towering 120m high cliff face, it runs from the valley below to the skies above. It is one of the spiritual homes of European Christianity and a UNESCO World Heritage site. For centuries, the basilica Saint Saveur and the crypt Saint Amadour lay at the heart of medieval Christiandom. 216 steps lead here, where kings, queens and peasants climbed on their knees as they sought penitence through pilgrimage. The centuries old weight of history and grandeur of the ages pervades every nook and cranny.

The famed Black Virgin statue was discovered alongside the corpse of Saint Amadour in the 12th century and now sits regally in the Notre Dame chapel. Carved in wood, this Madonna statue is said to have performed many miracles, including saving sailors lost at sea.

The iron bell of miracles attached to the ceiling of the chapel tolls mysteriously by itself when a miracle occurs. In homage to these maritime miracles, the organ of the basilica is shaped like a ship’s bow.  In August, the exceptional acoustics of the medieval basilica resound to a three week Festival of Sacred Music. Attracting upwards of 5,000 concert goers, the ancient city reverberates to the spiritual vibes of some of Europe’s internationally renowned classical artists. Every last weekend in September, the Hot Air Balloon Festival features over 30 balloons taking off high above the city in an annual celebration of this most romantic of flights.

Rocamadour and l’Hospitalet village above it still does a roaring trade in pilgrimage and remains a central crossing point for the Way of Saint James route. Golden stoned houses with stone roofs welcome weary travellers into the city where a pedestrianised centre features a plethora of boutique shops, bars and restaurants.




Au Cantou in Rocamadour

Two Sisters welcome pilgrims and travellers in a house just below the Sanctuary.


Le Grand Couvent in Gramat

2 star hotel and spiritual retreat. The 20 Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary share with those who wish to partake a time of spiritual reflection.



Durandal was the name of the sword owned and wielded by the famous Knight Roland, nephew of French King Charlemagne. His epic life was immortalised in the myth of his death during battle against the Saracens. Fearing Durandal would fall into enemy hands, Roland asked for

divine intervention. Miraculously, his sword flew all the way from the Pyrénées to plunge into the rock above the chapels of Rocamadour, where it remains embedded today.



In the study of cave paintings such as those of Lascaux, some palaeontologists have suggested that prehistoric man’s desire to express themselves artistically was also an expression of a spiritual quest. Witnessed by the countless abbeys, churches and places of pilgrimage that touch every corner of the Dordogne Valley, the search

for spiritual understanding has continued through the centuries here. In many cases the development of villages and towns has been centred on the construction of an abbey, as witnessed in the remarkable Abbey of Sainte Marie in Souillac-sur-Dordogne or the medieval Abbey of Aubazine. In the 12th century Cluny Abbey in Beaulieu-sur- Dordogne, the remarkable stone carved tympanum above the church entrance is one of many examples of human desire to make sense of spiritual mysteries through artistic or architectural expression.