This is Rocamadour, a town hanging onto the face of a cliff. There are at least seven churches built into the rock here with the castle ramparts at the top. Rocamadour has been a pilgrimage site since before the 13th century.
We explored the town when we visited 5 years ago, making the trek up and down the winding hill past the stations of the cross. The pilgrims of the middle ages did this on their knees – we stayed on our feet!
The Easter holiday break had not affected us until we came to the Padirac Chasm.
We waited 2 hours in line in the sun with a lovely Scottish couple (living in France) and their grandson. The tour of the cavern is about an hour. There are two elevators that take you down to start, then you walk and climb stairs down further to a subterranean river 338 feet below ground! You load onto small boats for part of the 1 1/4 mile journey. There are a lot of other stairs up and down through the different chambers. Google Gouffre de Padirac for pictures. It’s quite a wonder of the natural world.
This is looking down into the sink-hole, you cannot see the mouth of the cave.
And this is looking up from near the bottom.
We still had time to visit the Chateau de Montal in the late afternoon and we had the place to ourselves.
The Chateau has a sad story. It was built in 1523 by Jeanne de Balsac, a widow, for her eldest son who was away in a war in Italy; but only his body returned to the castle. Two more wings were planned but she abandoned the project in 1534. The second son gave up the priesthood in order to continue the family line. It eventually was bought by a property trader in 1858 who sold off the furniture and even 120 tons of carved stone! The castle was purchased by a collector/historian in 1908 and a restoration was begun. The chateau was given to France in 1913.
These busts decorate the courtyard side of the house. They depict Jeanne and her loved ones, almost all dead by the time they were designed.
The underneath side of the stairs is decorated with carvings.
I think these places were probably cold and drafty in the winter even with huge fireplaces.
There is a secret garden that can be seen from the second floor.