live le lot

Rocamadour Goat Cheese (Cabécou)


Le Lot is home to the Cabécou, a small round cheese made from creamy non-pasteurized goat's milk measuring 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter and 1.5 centimeters in thickness. The cheese originated in the Aquitaine, named after the Occitan word "cabra/craba" for goat, and is one of the region's oldest and most famous products. Production dates back at least to the 15th Century where the cheese is recorded in a monograph as factor in sharecropping and taxation as a value in the tithe to the Bishop.

The most recognizable variety of the cheese takes its name from a producer association in Rocamadour. Cabécou producers in the area succeeded in ascending to France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status in 1996. 


Early History


Rocamadour emerged as a significant pilgrimage site by 12th Century. Pilgrims were drawn to the site by testimonials of numerous miracles recorded in a famous Book of Miracles around 1170. The book tells the story of 126 miracles of healing and savior. Other chapels (Sainte-Anne, Saint-Jean, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Saint-Michel, and called the Ovalie chapel) were built as a religious cluster. The site continues to attract pilgrims, peaking each year the week of September 8 when Pilgrims still climb to St. Amator's chapel on their knees.

ROCAMADOUR

Tourism


Rocamadour's popularity as a tourism destination and unique architecture results in significant traffic congestion, especially in the summer months. Tourists have two main options when visiting: (1) finding parking in the small welcoming area overlooking the city; and (2) parking in a large car lot at the base of the city. Tourist wishing to avoid the steep walk up to the city by stairs can purchase ride aboard "le petit train" for EURO 2.50, a little blue train that runs up and down to the valley every 15 minutes. Special guided audio tours are also available in the evenings. A Rocamadour shuttle, named the "Quercybus", also offers open air guided bus tours.  


Grotte Préhistorique des Merveilles

Discovered in 1920 and named a national historical monument in 1925, the Grotte Préhistorique des Merveilles in Rocamadour remains one of the few original prehistoric caves still open to the public. Dated to over 20,000 years old, the cave’s paintings of the local flora, outlines of human hands, horses, stags, and bears bring to life man’s colonization of Europe. Here the Cro-Magnon the crachis technique, blowing black manganese oxide and red iron hydroxide dye on the walls of the cave with a straw or a hollow bone. The cave is located just next to Rocamadour’s office of tourism and panorama lookout over the old city. Guided tours run approximately 45 minutes. Photography is permitted. Rates: Adults €6;  Adolescents from 13 to 18 years €4.50; Children from 5 to 11 years €4; under 4 free.

Christian Legend


Pilgrims are drawn to the city by the rumored connection of Saint Amator to the family of Christ. According to legend, Saint Amator fled Palestine to France with his wife St. Veronica, herself a major figure in Christianity for wiping Christ's face of blood and sweat with her veil on his way to Calvary. After preaching the gospel as far away as Rome, witnessing the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul, Amadour returned to Quercy after Veronica's death to live life as a hermit. He dedicated the remainder of his life to building a chapel in for the Virgin Mary next to which he was buried. This legend survives amidst significant dispute by legal scholars. 

A City Built into a Cliff


Rocamadour, a stone city that rises up a sheer cliff bank of the Alzou River, is Le Lot's main tourist attraction with more than one million visitors a year. The cliff city draws its name from the amalgam of "Roc" and the name of the city founder Saint Amator (Amadour).


Tourists and pilgrims wind their way through shops filled with local gastronomy, gemstones, leather goods and knick-knacks. A massive flight of stone steps (216 steps) ascends to a religious cluster and renown Notre Dame Chapel, home to a wooden depiction of the Mother Mary as the Black Madonna said to have been carved by Saint Amator himself. A "miraculous bell" of wrought iron (8th century) is also visible in the chapel, famed for its power to announce the miracles of shipwrecked men who invoke the Virgin Mary. The crypt of Saint Amator is located next to the chapel. 


Rocamadour is classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the St James’ Way pilgrimage route.

Rock of the Eagles

Rocamadour is home to an eagle and falcon park named "Rocher des Aigles" that welcomes visitors for falconry displays and other acts from April 1 - September 30. The sanctuary is home to 70 different species of birds. The park was created in 1977 by Raphaël Arnaud with a mission to raise public awareness of the protection needs of birds of prey amidst development in the French countryside. Arnaud establish falconry and other displays as a means of financing the park, as well as a bird hospice for wounded or older birds. The hospice was unfortunately closed due to funding shortage in 2014 after 37 years. The park holds two demonstrations: (1) birds of prey and parrots (Eagles, vultures and falcons); and (2) nighttime birds of prey (owls). Opening hours and showtimes vary according to the month of the Spring and Summer season. Prices are EURO 10 per show for  adultes and EURO 6 for children (four to thirteen years old).