For us, Rocamadour was a convenient one night stopover on our round trip through France. We expected nothing more than a tourist trap, but after reading the book "Traveling with Pomegranates" which speaks of the place in glowing terms, I wanted to stay here after spending the day touring the prehistoric caves of the region.
We arrived in the evening. Staying in a hotel in Rocamadour (Terminus de Pelegrins which I recommend) allowed us to drive into town and park there. Our tiny rental car barely fit through the city gate with both mirrors folded up. By the time we had moved our stuff into our room and finished a late dinner, most of the day trip visitors had gone home and the touristy shops had closed. The churches and citadel were illuminated by flood lights. We went on a late night walk and climbed the steps up to the sanctuaries. We were basically the only people around, exploring the towers and turrets and stone steps. It was a magical experience. I am not entirely sure when the sanctuaries are supposed to be locked up, but at close to midnight we found a side door still open and curiously, we ventured inside. A lone pilgrim was still praying. Walking into the church felt like walking through a time portal into the middle ages. The empty church was only illuminated by a row of red and blue candles along the side aisles and on the altar in front of the black madonna. It was a sight I will never forget. Rocamadour was so much more than we had expected.
If you want to avoid the crush of tourists, I would recommend staying overnight to really experience the charm of Rocamadour.
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