Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Tuesday 8 November - Uzerche and Rocamadour

Where’s Colin? He's in the unofficial Aire, in the coach park at the chateau above Rocamadour.

Our day started with a run along the old railway line which runs alongside the river Vézére. I say 'run' but for the second mile it felt like I was achieving a slow shuffle and it was feeling far harder than it had any right to do. It was only when we turned to run back to Uzerche that I came to realise that the outward leg had been uphill. Naturally, the return was rather easier - so much so that we continued past Colin and explored the line in the other direction.

It's a pity my phone was strapped to my arm, rather than being in an accessible pocket, as a few photos of the stunning autumn colours in the valley wouldn't have gone amiss.

With showers and second breakfast had and the service point thoroughly used (Colin's water tank is now brimming), off we set and made it all of half a mile before declaring it time for elevenses. A stop for fuel and a mini-shopping trip had also featured in that half mile, so it wasn't entirely unreasonable to pause again.

Pastries eaten and coffee drunk, Colin was pointed towards Rocamadour with the highlight of the just-over-an-hour drive being the crossing of the Dordogne river, with the dramatic cliffs and the autumn colours.

I last visited Rocamadour sometime between the ages of 7 and 10, but still had a vague memory of the place and wanted to see it again. Unfortunately the sun was in the wrong place for me to capture a good representation of the view that has stuck in my memory for all of those years:

Note that the arrow points at a bit of the chateau which sits on the edge of the cliff atop a bit of an overhang. I'll come back to this later.

Shunning the lifts which can be used to take you down into the town, we took a stroll and spent a good while looking around the place* and wondering what it would be like in season. Apparently it's a real tourist/pilgrim hotspot, but today I don't think we even passed a dozen people in total on the streets. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the shops and restaurants were shut.

Looking back up at the town from below

We made our way slowly back up to Colin via the Sanctuary and its walkway which passes the twelve stations of the cross before leading you up the final incline to the chateau.

It costs €2, only payable via a €2 coin into an automatic turnstile, to visit the ramparts of the castle and as we only had one coin of the right denomination between us, Mick decreed that I should go and that he would go and put the kettle on. I'm not sure we fully thought that through given that I'm not always fond of walkways with big drops, although at the time we hadn't appreciated that the ramparts went all the way onto the top of that building marked with the arrow in the first photo above, which sits on the edge of the overhanging cliff.

Actually I didn't mind that bit, and even pulled out my phone for a snap of the valley to the east...

...and for a snap looking straight down to the main street (where the three people walking down there looked very small):

Reunited in the car park, we did briefly consider moving on in the late afternoon, just a few miles down the road, but decided that (aside from the church bells) we were almost guaranteed a quiet night here in the car park full of semi-feral cats. It looked for a while like it was going to be just us and another British van which had appeared whilst we were out, but just before dark French vans started rolling in - each making an incredible meal shunting about as if they were Goldilocks choosing the best bed. Based on the evidence we witnessed, we're far less fussy than most as to levelness, as I don't think there's anywhere in this car park even vaguely near to being slopey enough to have caused us to think about trying a different spot!

(*My first impression on reaching the main street was that if Disney was given the brief to create an historic French village built into a cliff, then this would be it.)

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