Rocamadour Part Two

Rocamadour’s first important patron was Henry 11 of England, who endowed much of his treasure to Rocamadour. His eldest son, the Young King Henry Court-Mantel, stole the treasure along with the Black Madonna in 1183 to pay for his routiers in his war against his father: he even so the legion goes, replaced the Durandel with his own sword.

He had not gone very far when the Black Madonna got her revenge, striking young Henry down with a fever. Full of remorse, he asked his father to forgive him, had an alter put on his neck and laid naked in a bed of ashes and died.

The Bishop of Limoges gave him absolution for his sins due to his father promising that he would replace Rocamadour’s treasure.
 

Basilique-St-Sauveur built into the rock face during the 11th and 13th Century’s is truly stunning.
 

Over the alter hangs a painted wooden 16th Century Christ shown crucified on a tree, his right side pierced by a lance instead of the customery left side.
 

St Amadour relic, who’s bones where hacked to bits during the Wars of Religion by the Huguenot Captain Bessonies who desecrated the shrine.
 

Many of the ships on display are from the Breton Sailors who held the Black Madonna in high esteem.
 

Darkened by candle smoke the Magnificent Black Madonna still holds court today. She is carved out of walnut in the 11Century and sits quite stiffly on her throne with the Christ child balanced on her knees.
 

Outside various walls are decorated depicting various scenes from the Annunciation and Visitation. These two skeleton figures are pleading for salvation.
 

Further up an hairpin walk lined with the Stations of the Cross takes you up to the ramparts of the Château, built in the 14th Century to defend the shrines.
 

Engraved tunnel of copied tombstones, and pledges is fascinating to read.
 

In order to see Rocamadour arrive early in the morning in July and August. Better still arrive in the Spring, Autumn or Winter to avoid the tourist season.
 
 

Events:-

Sarlat : Napoleon Bonaparte, with Josephine and some of his army (complete with a cannon) will arrive for the Historic Weekend which starts tomorrow. Lets just hope for fine weather.

Daglan : The 8 à Huit Supermarket will be closed from the 21st September to the 28th September.

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Vitrac & Vitrac Port.

Vitrac consists of a port and a small village near the hamlet of Monfort. Vitrac Port is located on the D46 between Sarlat and Cénac et Saint Julien, Vitrac village is about a kilometre away along the D55.

Although we drive through Vitrac Port a couple of times each week on our way to and from Sarlat we have never stopped to look at the twin villages before, so on a very cold but sunny day we ventured out to take a look.
 

dscn2016A magnificent Château is to be found at the entrance to Vitrac village
 

dscn2017Vistas over the Château grounds to the swirling mist on the hills and the dordogne river in the distance.

The village itself is quite small, in the main square is the church of Saint Martin, opposite is a narrow lane that leads off to the artists studio.
 

dscn2022This photograph taken at Vitrac Port reminded me so much of a scene from the film ‘A Good Year’, staring Russel Crow. If you have seen the film it is the scene when he is taking photograhs of the grounds in order to sell the estate. However, each photogragh he takes reminds him of his deseased Uncle and the wonderful memories of his childhood. The photogragh just needed a smoked cigar in an ashtray on the table to complete the scene.
 

dscn2023The rushing water of the Dordogne completes this magnifisent property.
 

dscn2019Just over the bridge there is an excellent park area where each table and benches are enclosed in a horse shoe shaped hedge.

Of course in Spring and Summer you can rent a canoe or two from Vitrac Port and slowly meander your way down the river. Or you could go further along the road and visit Monfort, Domme, Daglan or Sarlat.
 

Close by is the Château de Montfort.
dscn2232aThe Château has had a turbulent history starting with Bernard de Casnac who was not a very pleasent person to meet if you were Catholic for he swore “to cut to pieces” any Catholic that he enounted. Which was at odds with the peaceful Cathars at that time! Then came the infamous Simon de Montfort and a list of others throughout history who pilaged, burned, rebuilt and destroyed again. In fact it is quite a feat for the Château to be here at all, but I am glad it is.

Sadly it is in private hands so not open to the public but it is still worth a visit just to see its magnifisant turrets.