Visiting Martel, Rocamadour and Gouffre de Padirac.
22.05.2014 - 22.05.2014 63 °F
So we took the rainy day and rested up so that we could be ready when the sunshine returned. Today we are going to visit three completely different sites and hopefully have a day of fun and an evening of discussion.
We will be starting our adventure in the village of Martel. Martel is another of the most beautiful villages in France and is known for its seven towers. We found free parking and then strolled through the village. The village is very picturesque with each shop or square prettier then the last. It is definitely a stroll and picture village. While there are shops, there really isn't much to distinguish it from many other villages. That's not a bad thing, just an observation.
After some photos, we head back to the car to go on to our second destination.
Just a few kilometers farther and we come to Rocamadour. Rocamadour is a town built tightly against the side of a cliff, with some buildings actually built right into the cliff. We arrived at the top of the hill near the sanctuary. It is made up of very simple chapels, built into the cliff walls and have a very spiritual feeling about them. A group of visitors could be heard singing hymns to the Virgin Mary as we were walking out.
Rocamadour was a pilgrimage site for many Christians. People would travel there and then climb the stairs up to the chapel on their knees. Since we started at the top, we just walked down.
Going down it was interesting to see the shops and stores in town. It definitely has a touristy appeal, but is still well worth a visit. We selected a place to have lunch that had a terrace overlooking the valley. Very pretty place to eat and the food was very good too.
After lunch we took the elevator and funicular back to the top and headed to our final destination for the day - Gouffre de Padirac.
Gouffre de Padirac is a huge cave or chasm that then leads to an underground cave and river. This area of France is famous for its many caves and caverns, many of which have been found to contain prehistoric cave paintings. For today, we'll just be seeing the wonders of a naturally carved cave below the earth's surface.
You start by taking an elevator down 100 meters to the entrance. You then walk down some stairs and follow a path around to a docking area. From here you take a boat ride along the underground river. The river is fed by rain water, not fed by a stream or spring. Since it had rained heavily the day before the water was dripping down from the ceiling above. Once you reach the end of the river, you disembark and then walk through paths to see stalactites and stalagmites, plus a couple large lakes and natural dams. It's quite a site and really breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, they don't allow photos underground, but we did buy a book with pictures. When the tour is complete, you get back in the boat and are taken back to the entrance. It truly was awesome.
With that, we headed back to the house to relax. Tomorrow we'll be heading over to see the Lascaux caves and prehistoric museum.