Rocamadour © Globe Media
Tiered precariously halfway up a cliffside above a small river, Rocamadour has one of the most unique and breathtaking settings of any town in Europe. The town is famed for being the site where the body of Saint Amadour (who is believed to be Zacchaeus of the Bible) was discovered, an event that led to a succession of miracles in the town. Since the 8th century it has been an important pilgrimage site; everyone from prince to pauper has ventured here in the hope of curing their ailments at the shrine. Unfortunately, the famous reliquary of the shrine has been plundered several times so that today it bears little relation to the original; however, many still testify to the spiritual significance and healing power of the place.
Today the town is overrun by tourists and its atmosphere has suffered accordingly, but, despite this, it is a must-see for the stunning views of the Dordogne and its marvellous situation. The town has magnificent ancient architecture, with many of the buildings cut directly into the rock of the cliffs, and is gloriously picturesque. Balloon rides are a popular way to see the area. The seven sanctuaries that make up the pilgrimage site are truly wondrous to behold. Don't miss the famous Black Madonna, thought to have been carved in the 11th century, which can be found in the Chapelle Notre Dame, a small Gothic chapel built in 1479.