UNVEILING OF THE ROUTES FOR 2023

The unveiling of the routes for the 2023 Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will take place on Thursday 27th October from 11.30 (UTC+2) at the Palais des Congrès convention centre in Paris.

ROCAMADOUR

First time stage city
Municipality of Lot (46)
Population: 640 (Amadouriens and Amadouriennes), 47,300 in the 77 communes of the Causses and Dordogne Valley Community of Communes, 174,000 in the Lot.
Personalities: Francis Poulenc (composer), Patrick de Carolis (journalist).
Specialities: Quercy lamb, duck, truffle, Rocamadour (goat cheese), walnut oil, Rocamadour (wine)
Sport: hot air ballooning.
Economy: tourism, trade, agriculture.
Festivals: Rocamadour Festival (sacred music), Les Eclectiques festival, Montgolfiades, Quercy truffle markets, Parc Durandal.
Motto: Hope as firm as a rock
Labels: Rocamadour-Dordogne Valley listed as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Regional Natural Park of the Causses du Quercy UNESCO World Geopark, Grands Sites Occitanie, Town of Art and History, Most beautiful villages in France.
Websites: www.mairierocamadour.frwww.cauvaldor.frwww.lot.frwww.laregion.fr

Rocamadour village, France, a beautiful medieval town a rock over a gorge, is an UNESCO world culture heritage site © Getty/Xantana
© Ville de Rocamadour
© Ville de Rocamadour

ROCAMADOUR, A HISTORY

Centuries of pilgrimage

The medieval town of Rocamadour is built on a rocky hillside, on a slope of the Alzou Canyon, a stream that flows (mostly dry) through the Alzou Valley. The first human presence in the commune of Rocamadour is attested by a Neanderthal occupation in a cave in the Alzou valley (-50,000) and studies concerning prehistory and protohistory show a quasi-permanence of human activity.

The pilgrimage to Sainte Marie de Rocamadour was already popular in the 12th century. Then, in the 13th century, Rocamadour benefited from a strong craze for pilgrimages to the Virgin. The visit of Louis IX (Saint Louis) accompanied by his mother Blanche of Castile and his three brothers (Charles of Anjou, Alphonse of Poitiers and Robert of Artois) further strengthened the influence of the town.
The pilgrimage to Our Lady of Rocamadour is also among the pilgrimages imposed by the Flemish courts. These texts show a strong connection with other pilgrimages in the Christian world, including Santiago de Compostela. As some convicts were forced to make several pilgrimages, the pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Rocamadour is sometimes associated with that to Santiago de Compostela.
The conflict of the Hundred Years' War from 1340 onwards was added to the list and was for a time particularly disastrous in the region. Rocamadour nevertheless benefited from a form of protection since pilgrims from whatever camp they belonged to were allowed to cross enemy lines to get to the chapel of Notre Dame. The pilgrimage was never subsequently deserted: all the historians who passed through until the beginning of the 19th century testify to this. It benefited above all from the popular fervour of the region, but it remained important. It must be acknowledged that it no longer benefits from the attention and restoration necessary for its proper maintenance. Many of the buildings were in ruins when Abbot Caillau came there on a pilgrimage of gratitude in 1835. He was one of those who made people aware of the need to restore the site. The work lasted nearly sixty years and the image they offer in 1900 corresponds to what we know today.

romantic village of rocamadour at perigord, france © Getty/Jon chica parada

ROCAMADOUR AND CYCLING

This touristic, architectural and religious jewel of the Lot has never hosted the Tour de France, but in 2020 it was the setting for a superb stage finale in the Route d'Occitanie. Benoît Cosnefroy won the final climb ahead of Bauke Mollema and Thibaut Pinot, while Egan Bernal took the overall classification. Christian Prudhomme was not insensitive to the beauty of this finish: "It is a dazzling place. The city, the history and the site are magnificent. (...) We can't remain insensitive to the candidature of Rocamadour and the Lot, it's obvious.”

15/09/2020 - Tour de France 2020 - Etape 16 - La Tour du Pin / Villard de Lans (164 km) - Benoit COSNEFROY (AG2R LA MONDIALE) © A.S.O./Alex Broadway

SIGHTS

The sanctuary
A real challenge to balance, on the side of a cliff, the Marian city of Rocamadour welcomes visitors and pilgrims all year round. Rocamadour owes its fame to its pilgrimage. Its thousand years of history date back to the first hermits who settled in a vast rock shelter. In 1166, a perfectly preserved body, Saint Amadour, was discovered on the site where the Sanctuary now stands. From the very beginning, this site was dedicated to the Marian cult and inside the Notre-Dame chapel, the statue of the Black Madonna can be admired. Dating from the 12th century, the Black Madonna or Our Lady of Rocamadour is made up of two pieces of wood, with the Child stuck on her left knee.

Saint-Sauveur Basilica
Construction: 11th century, then 15th and 19th century.
Style: Romano-Gothic
Characteristics: the church of Saint-Sauveur was built between the 11th and 13th centuries in a period of transition between Romanesque and Gothic art (Romano-Gothic style). It is built of limestone and the roof is covered with flat tiles. The lower church, dating from the 12th century, is a crypt which once housed the relics of Saint Amadour. Access to the basilica is via a staircase from the second level of the town square. Its two naves are leaning against the cliff walls on the western side.
History: The Marian pilgrimage of Rocamadour has been one of the major sites of the Christian world since the Middle Ages. In a bull of Pascal II in 1105, a church of Sainte-Marie or Notre-Dame is mentioned. Following the discovery in 1166 of the intact body presented as that of Saint Amadour, the entire religious city was built. While the sanctuary was in a serious state of disrepair and the church of Saint-Sauveur was still in use, the bishops of Cahors decided to restore the site from 1842. In March 1913, the church was erected as a minor basilica by Pope Pius X.
Special feature: a new organ in the shape of a boat built by organ builder Jean Daldosso was inaugurated in November 2013
Listing: Historical Monument since 2000

Chapel of Our Lady
Construction: 11th century, then 15th and 19th century.
Style: Flamboyant Gothic
Characteristics: the Notre-Dame chapel backs onto the cliff to the west and the south elevation of the Saint-Sauveur basilica to the north. The building is built of limestone, with an elongated single-vessel plan with a ribbed vault and a gable roof covered with flat tiles. The southern door, in the flamboyant Gothic style, is decorated with the arms of Bishop Denis de Bar. On the other side of the square, two monumental wall paintings, The Annunciation and The Visitation, date from the 12th century.
History: the original chapel was destroyed in 1476 by a rock that fell from the cliff. A plaque on the south elevation indicates that it was rebuilt in 1479 by Denis de Bar, Bishop of Tulle. It was subsequently sacked during the Wars of Religion and the Revolution. The bishops of Cahors decided to restore the dilapidated site in 1842. Between 1863 and 1864, the Notre-Dame chapel was largely rebuilt and enlarged by Abbot Chevalt.
Special feature: above the altarpiece, Our Lady of Rocamadour or the Black Madonna of Rocamadour is a reliquary statue from the fourth quarter of the 12th century. It is 76 cm high and is made of two pieces of walnut wood, with the Child pegged on her left knee. In the past it was covered with silver. It was restored after the Second World War and in 2003.
Listing: Historical Monument since 2000

The Holy Way and the Staircase
From the hamlet of l'Hospitalet, the path, called the Holy Way, which pilgrims take to reach the sanctuary, leads down the Alzou valley to the lower town, where there is the foot of 216-step staircase to the sanctuary. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims climbed it on their knees. The last flight of steps passes under a porch formed by the buildings of the sanctuary, known as the Holy Door, and leads to the square.

Grotte des Merveilles (Cave of Wonders)
Human occupation: Upper Paleolithic, Gravettian.
Story: Marguerite Lamothe was only fourteen years old, on October 16, 1920, when she slipped, just after her father, into the hole which has just suddenly opened at the bottom of their garden in Rocamadour. What they had just discovered seemed wonderful. Moreover, some of the concretions had the colour and shape of the region's doughnuts, traditionally called “merveilles” ("wonders"), so the cave was named after them. After her mother Marguerite's death in 1985, Monique took over the management of the cave and the visits to her own daughter Mireille.
Characteristics: shallow and modest in size, the cave is initially attractive for its crystalline concretions. Once you get used to light, you can see some of the seventy parietal motifs identified by prehistorians. More than 20,000 years ago, men came to paint, hands in negative, deer, punctuation... The visit is guided and lasts 45 minutes from April to November.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1925

© Ville de Rocamadour
Basilique Saint-Sauveur © Getty/guy-ozenne
interior of church at Rocamadour monastery, wide angle view © Getty/Thomas321
© Ville de Rocamadour

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