Rocamadour medieval village and Padirac cave
Last night we asked the manager of the hotel to help us rent a car. His help was valuable. As soon as we finished breakfast a car was waiting for us in front of the hotel. When I planned the route to this part of the Camino I knew that it was important for me to get to Rocamadour medieval village and Padirac cave. We have been there with my parents and our eldest son thirty years ago and we wanted to see these places again. There is an option of making a detour from the GR65 and walk up to Rockamador but it seemed to be a too long detour considering our time limits. So we decided to get there by car and then drive at night to Conques to hear the organ. A beautiful weather welcomed us. Around nine o’clock we headed towards Padirac. The transition from the experience of walking the Camino to the feeling that we, like the rest of the tourists, arrive, park, see the highlights and move on, created a strange feeling. And yet, it was a nice road to Padirac . It was nice to give our feet some rest and we even found an antique shop and took some time to check it’s treasures.
Padirac Chasm, located 8 kms from Rocamadour medieval village, is in the area of Dordogne . The cave goes 103 meters below ground. It was a bit surprising to see that the area around the chasm has totally changed in 30 years. While years ago there was rather nothing, now there are lots of parking places, coffee area and nice picnic areas. After the initial descent of 75 meters with two lifts, we got in a small boat for a short trip along a clear green subterranean stream. Then we got out of the bout and pass through the cave, climbing stairs and admiring the extraordinary rock formations and a blue lake. The Gouffre de Padirac was discovered in 1891 by Eduard-Alfred Martel and his friends and a few years later opened to the public. We felt that we were lucky to be able to visit it again. With the huge Stalagmites and Stalagites it felt like walking in a lost wonderland and we loved it.t
The stop at the top of the mountain allows you to view the magnificent view of the houses hanging in the air and clinging to the cliff. We parked the car in a parking lot in the valley and from there we took the tiny train that takes visitors up to Rocamadour medieval village. The small village is part of the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy and for ages has been an important stop for pilgrims. There is only one street in the village- la Couronnerie : It has many boutiques and restaurants and in the end of it there are 233 steps leading up to 8 churches and chapels. Faithful pilgrims used to climb on their knees up the stairs. Doron tried the first flight of stairs but being lazy we took the lift that brought us to the level of Notre-Dame chapel (Lady Chapel) -house to the Black Virgin (of black wood). It’s a nice little chapel but what was more inspiring for me was to see the monumental, well preserve buildings sitting on the edge of the cliff. An hour later the lift took us back to the street with it’s tourist traps and the train took us back to the parking.
Expecting to get to Conques
At six in the evening we were back in Figeac, taking a shower and some rest before leaving for Conques. For me the trip to Conques to experience once again the organ playing in the cathedral was the top of the day, but that’s for the next post.
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