Walk 21/2012 – Weekend in France

Friday 5th October 2012

Breakfast was taken, where else but a boulangerie, before we headed off for our first full day of walking. It was here that Alan discovered he had missed out on the early morning round of tea/coffee – you have to be up and about early to beat Sue and Rosemarie to the coffee pot! A quick trip to a local supermarket for lunch provisions and our first vision of a ‘French tart!’ [Ed – made more memorable by the limited application of French dressing!]

The sun was shining in a clear blue sky as we climbed steadily up, down and around parts of the Dordogne valley towards Rocamadour. The stunning sights gradually revealed themselves as we walked around the valley until we saw a cluster of buildings clinging to the rocks half way up the sheer cliffs, (rising to 492ft) in all their glory. Having reached the bottom of the valley, we decided to have lunch before exploring this pilgrimage site. As we began to climb, a wonderful sight was revealed – shops!! This was a chance for non–shoppers to retire for a swift half! We regrouped and began the climb up the great staircase to the chapel. Roger did say that pilgrims went up on their knees, stopping to recite a “Hail Mary” on every step – this could prove to be difficult as there are 216 steps, so the suggestion was quickly shelved.

The chapel’s Black Madonna created some discussion as we headed back down to continue on the Saut mill circuit in the Ouysse and Alzou valley. We came across some derelict grinding stones that were once part of the water mills of this region. We also saw the remains of a bread oven and pondered how it was all managed, as the mills were not exactly easy to get to.

The day was rounded off with our meal being eaten on the outside terrace accompanied by plenty of French bread, a selection of cheese and wine (– as they say when in Rome......!) We were quite impressed with how our school day French was going, even though there was the odd Del boy slip up.

Report – Sue

Pictures – Alan

Rosemarie does’t go much on one of the croissants as we have breakfast in the patisserie.
picutre 1
And before long we are stopping for lunch.
picutre 2
This is typical of the paths we were walking along.
picutre 3
We found this empty shell so put some graffitti on the side to advertise the vacant floor space – AV being short for a vendre (for sale) – suitable for french speaking snails.
picutre 4
We start to get a sight of the amazing town of Rocamadour built into the side of a cliff.
picutre 5
More of the town is revealed as we walk down the road.
picutre 6
picutre 7
picutre 8
Even though the town is clinging to the cliff face, there is still a street running through it.
picutre 9
These circular rings were positioned at points along the route. Roger magically produced the piece of card which fits into it to tell us someting about the place.
picutre 10
One of the ruined mills located along the river.
picutre 11
We tried a short cut along the dry river bed, but had to admit defeat when we came across this dried up waterfall.
picutre 12
The approach to another one of the ruined mills sitting in the gorge.
picutre 13