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This town was just named ‘most beautiful village in France’

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Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Rocamadour.

Valentine Leroy - published on 06/30/22

The small village of Rocamadour (Lot) was named one of the "most beautiful villages of France" in June 2022. This elegant cliffside sanctuary continues to fascinate thousands of visitors and pilgrims.

The association of the “most beautiful villages of France” – which met in Seillans in the Var on June 24 and 25, 2022 – has crowned four new villages. Among the four is the village of Rocamadour (Lot). Already designate a Unesco World Heritage Site, the historic site was subjected to a rigorous assessment according to 27 criteria before being included on this list. However, to compete for this title, the village first had to join the association which imposes strict conditions for entry.

Built in successive stages on the side of a cliff, the village of Rocamadour attracts 1.5 million visitors and pilgrims each year, charmed by the beauty of its houses and chapels suspended above the canyon of the Alzou, a tributary of the Dordogne. An essential stop on the road to Santiago de Compostela, the Marian sanctuary of Rocamadour was founded in the 12th century.

Dedicated to the Black Virgin, a massive influx of pilgrims began to visit the sanctuary beginning in the 12th century. To welcome these numerous visitors, the Benedictines who occupied the site, built a network of chapels and reception areas. The oratory of the statue of the Black Virgin is flanked by a vast basilica supported by a lower church, the crypt. Various chapels complete the place of prayer: Sainte-Anne, Saint-Biaise, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Saint-Michel. The abbots of Tulle also had a palace built.

Restoring and passing on

This 12th century palace is undergoing an intense restoration. The work, which will begin at the end of 2022, will require no less than four years of work and $6.2 million in private funds: from the centuries-old framework to the passageways and the floor, every element of the castle must be restored. Closed to the public for years, the castle and its garden will soon be open to visitors who will also be able to discover the “secret” passage linking the palace to the basilica 260 feet below.

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