As you go round a bend in the road, Rocamadour looms before you. Whether it's day or night you're bound to be blown away. The vertical village, built in a series of stages on the clifftop, hangs 150m above the Alzou canyon. The houses, rocks and churches all look like they're part of the rock.
This village with a population of 630 is one of the most visited sites in France. You enter the village through the fortified Figuier gateway before going along Rocamadour's only street, the bustling Rue de la Couronnerie lined with shops and restaurants.
Well worth a visit
Walk or take a ride up to the château at the top overlooking Rocamadour. You'll have sweeping views of the town from the top of the belvedere.
Rocamadour was first and foremost a pilgrimage hotspot. The village is home to the relics of Saint Amadour and was the revered sanctuary for the Black Madonna.
Pilgrims came from all over Europe to pray here from the 12th century. Like them, go up the great staircase's 216 steps to the Sanctuary's esplanade where you'll find 8 churches and chapels built on the cliffside. Must-sees: Notre-Dame Chapel and its statue of the Black Madonna, a small black wooden silhouette from the 12th century with an impressive halo.
It takes less than half an hour to reach the Dordogne Valley from Rocamadour. From Sousceyrac in the east to Souillac in the west (approx. 60km), follow the twists and turns lined with cliffs and a thick leafy curtain dotted with sandy islands and quiet little pebble beaches.
The Dordogne is rich in flora and fauna and the only river in France whose basin is listed as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. You can swim in its clear water, go fishing, canoeing or have a walk or bike ride on the banks.
You don't need to leave your natural haven to visit the magical Dordogne Valley villages: Bretenoux, a lovely 13th century bastide; Saint-Céré overlooked by Château de Saint-Laurent-les-Tours which is home to the Jean Lurçat Museum and not forgetting Souillac and Gramat.
You'll also fall in love with the villages listed as some of the most beautiful in France: Autoire, Loubressac, Martel and its medieval houses, Carennac (visit Château des Doyens, Saint-Pierre Church and its cloister).
Other must-sees: the castles of Montal and Castelnau-Bretenoux.
Get on board an authentic steam train in Martel and take the railway partly dug into the cliff overlooking the entire Dordogne Valley like a balcony. Spectacular views and thrills guaranteed.
The Dordogne is a must-see canoeing spot in the south of France. Follow Cathy, our Lot Tourism expert: she gives you her tips for a magical canoeing experience between Gluges and Pinsac (19 km of happiness!).