Rocamadour Part One

Voted “the most favourite village in France 2016” it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built dramatically into an overhanging cliff high above the gorge of the Alzou in the Lot Department. It owes its fame and fortune to the late 11th Century cult of the Black Madonna, whose shrine was promoted by the Benedictines at Tulle and who built an hospital next to Rocamadour for the passing pilgrims.

In 1166 a man’s body was found near to the alter. This the Benedictines announced was St Zaccheous, who was the publican who climbed the tree to see Jesus. After the crucifixion he fled with his wife and settled in Limoges. When his wife died he went to live as an hermit and built the first sanctuary in the cliff face. The local people called him”the lover”, or Amator for his devotion, hence Roc-Amadour, the rock of the lover or lover of rock.

The pilgrim road enters Rocamadour by way of the 13thC Porte du Figuier, which is one of four gates that defended the villages.

Once through the gate you walk past the various shops and souvenir stands. Selling everything from postcards, ornaments, gorgeous linen tablecloths to ice cream and cakes.

To get to the Basilique St-Sauveur you will need to climb the 223 steps or use the lift. In the days of pardon, pilgrims and criminals would climb the steps on their knees in order to be forgiven for their sins. They were bound in chains and led to the Black Madonna where they would pray and then the priest would strike of the chains and give them a lead metal with a picture of the Black Madonna to take back to their village as proof of absolution.


Another attraction is the Durandal, the famous sword of Roland; the legendary paladin of Charlemagne. Just before he died at Roncesvalles, Roland confined his blade to St Michael.

The Archangel hurled the sword from the Pyrenees straight into Rocamadour’s cliff where the sword sits high above supported by a chain.

The workmanship is outstanding.

A close up of one of the towers.


Les Montgolfiades-Rocamadour

23rd and 24th September is the Annual two day hot air balloon festival with participants from all over Europe.


Up, Up and away…

…in my beautiful balloon.

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier was born in 1740 and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier was born in 1745, they were paper manufacturers from Annonay in the Ardèche region of France. Both were inventors in their own right but are mostly remembered for their joint collaborations in inventing piloted hot air balloons. They launched the first ascent in 1783 which covered 2km and lasted ten minutes at a maximum altitude of about 2,000m. Success followed success and the Montgolfier hot air balloons were, and still are, a prominent feature in the “skyscape” of France, especially in the Perigord Noir.

Down, down over the forest at Castlenaud.

Slowly the balloon descended towards the house!

Apparently just missing the roof.

A companion landing in the field in front of the house and close to the road.

These pictures were taken a few weeks ago on our way to Sarlat early one morning. “Champagne breakfast over the forest anyone”?

They floated right over our heads and you could see the people inside the baskets. What a superb view they must have, not of us but of the Château’s, the Dordogne River and the surrounding forests and countryside, sight seeing at its best.

Event – Brocante at La Rock de la Gageac, 3rd September


Its so Cold


When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When Blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit, tu-who: a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

William Shakespeare.


My goodness it is cold -10 a few days ago, -7 today but am I complaining well a little but you need the cold to appreciate the warmth of Spring. It is one of the many things that I love about France, you certainly notice the changing seasons – from weather to the seasonal fruit and vegetables in the markets.

dscn2191a“This is mine, just try to take it from me”.

Like all eccentric people Paul and I do not let the freezing temperatures stop us from going out, so on a -10 day we left the warmth of our home to go shopping in Sarlat. The country side did look gorgeous bathed in a frosty glow but I was observing from inside the car wrapped in a car blanket!

These pictures were taken later in the day near Castelnaud
dscn2226We were unsure if the Montgolfier’s were getting ready to take off or they have just landed or the owners were testing them?

dscn2225aUp, up and away

Beynac-et-Cazenac: The D703 is closed to the public until 17th February due to construction work to widen the road and pavement. Diversions are marked, and very scenic.

Domme: Major works installing new utilities – electrics, gas, water, drainage and communications, expect road and path closures. All new for the Spring season.


Montgolfieres du Perigord

or flying low over Daglan

Open all year round (weather permitting) and with several flights a day, montgolfiers take people on a leisurely panoramic journey high above the châteaux’s of the Dordogne. Carried by the whims of the wind at an altitude (usually) of about 300 meters, passengers get an amazing view over La Roque-Gageac, Montford, Castelnaud, Beynac, Daglan, Domme and Marqueyssac.

These photographs were taken on a very sunny evening while relaxing on the balcony. We thought that this Montgolfier was going to land behind the church.

Close call

Close call?

But no,

Up, up and away

phew, made it

phew, made it

Followed soon after by a companion. What a terrific view of Daglan and the surrounding valley.

Balloon with a view

Balloon with a view

Close enough to hold a conversation with the people in the basket

Wave and shout 'salut'

Wave and shout ‘salut’

Although I am told it’s an incredible experience it is one that I must, unforunately miss, due to a fear of heights.

Excitement, Montgolfiers over the village

This was a typical Sunday morning market full of tantalising smells to excite the senses. Fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers, cheeses, wine, and of course roast chicken, all grown or reared locally. It was mother’s day in France so the flower stall was particularly vibrant

typical Sunday morning market

typical Sunday morning market

When my husband and I went outside we noticed that the local people were all looking up to the sky, we thought that it was because they had not seen the sun for a long time, but no.

Low flying Montgolfiers

Low flying Montgolfiers

The Montgolfiers (named after the Montgolfier brothers who in 1783 took to the air for the first ever hot air ballon flight) were flying very low over the village. This blue one just missed the spire on top of the Marie.

That was close

That was close

You can see all of the birds trying to get away.

Dropping in for a chat

Dropping in for a chat

At first this Montgolfier was high in the sky, then it also started to descend.

Smiley face Montgolfier

Smiley face Montgolfier

You can see the people in the basket, so close you could talk to them.

Close to the trees

Close to the trees

You can see how near they came to the trees on the side of the valley

Voices from  the sky

Voices from the sky

They came so low that you could talk to the people in the basket.

They were shouting to us below and several people shouting back, I heard “tournez à gauche à la fin de la route” – turn left at the end of the road – followed by laughter

Then with a whoosh of burning gas and hot air they started to rise once more.

Montgolfier descending.

Montgolfier descending.

My husband and I rushed to the car park because we could see the blue Montgolfier descending.

a one man Montgolfier

a one man Montgolfier

This was a one man Montgolfier, the pilot sitting in a cradle, not a basket

Close encounter

Close encounter

You can see how close he came to the trees.

The Landing

He landed in the car park

I rushed over to see if he needed help, he nearly fell out of his cradle when he heard an English person talking to him. He was fine and in total control of his Montgolfier, he had ended his morning flight and radioed his position to a car to collect him.