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Report 1947: The Dordogne

By Winnick from Texas, Spring 2011

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Page 6 of 19: June 18 - Rocamadour, Collanges La Rouge, Beaulieu sur Dordogne, St. Cere

photo by Mike Winnick

Collanges La Rouge

After a quiet breakfast we left at 9am, way before the tourist buses arrive, to Rocamadour. The weather was drizzly, but not heavy, and, in fact, shortly after we started our descent, it stopped. This was to be our experience all day. Some rain, but only while driving to a village, or leaving, but never while we were walking around.

Rocamadour has three levels, the upper town with its castle, the middle, with the much venerated church to which all the pilgrims, and today's tourists flock, and the lower town, a single street, closed to day traffic, filled with shops.

We walked down to the church level. The top level castle is closed so all you do is view it. This, by the way, when lit up at night, reminds one of Cinderella's castle in Disneyland. The way down to the church is via a series of switchbacks which, at the switches, contain one of the 14 Stations Of The Cross, originally built back in 1861. It's steep but an easy walk down. The church is amazing, cut into the cliff face, with large stone overhangs, overlooks, and views of the valley.

There are 223 Holy Steps which pilgrims climbed on their knees. We just walked them down to the bottom level, looked at the shops eventually decided to climb back up instead of using the elevators to get back up to the car.

Next stop was the village of Collanges La Rouge, with houses from the 13C to 16C built in red sandstone, and a church from the 11C. Another one of those TMBVF members. Every corner of these villages is a study in medieval history. We stopped here too and had our smallest, quickest and cheapest lunch so far, sandwiches of roasted Chicken and Duck Pate.

On the way to the car it started to rain so we waited a few minutes in a sheltered bus stop, then the sun came out again and we were off to Beaulieu sur Dordogne, a small 12C village, with a church and some of the usual interesting medieval buildings.

Our final stop of the day was at St. Cere, a fairly large village of over 3,000 which, today, was hosting a road rally. So we had to drive around the center of town's streets, which were blocked, to find some side street parking. The Tourist Information office had a great walking tour map and with our Michelin Guide too we spent an hour looking at the town, with houses and street architecture from the 15C to 18C.

By 5 we left and returned to Rocamadour and our hotel, Domaine de la Rhue. Time for a bit of rest before we go out for our last dinner here. It was nice having a two-night stay at this beautiful country home after three nights of one night stops. We are looking forward to our apartment stay where we can unpack for nine nights.

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