If you are staying in a holiday cottage in South West France with children of mixed ages, there are lots of places to explore in and around the Lot Valley. From monkey zoos to admiring the picturesque scenery, Rocamadour is one of the many fantastic bastide towns to visit. In this blog, Kingfisher Holidays puts the spotlight on the town and some of the family-friendly attractions that you can look forward to visiting on your stay with us this summer.
The picture-postcard cliff-top village of Rocamadour has welcomed visitors since the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, it was a well-known pilgrim destination, famous for the healing powers of the Black Virgin statuette, which you can still see today at the Notre-Dame Chapel. Once a stop-over destination on the path to Santiago de Compostela, it has more than half a dozen ancient chapels and churches built high into the cliff-face and overlooking part of the Dordogne River. Even today the dramatic beauty of this destination draws around 1.5 million visitors a year.
Attractions within Rocamadour
The entrance to this walled village is via one of the fortified gateways that lead to Rocamadour’s one main street, Rue de la Couronnerie, which houses some superb independent shops and restaurants. From here, you can take the steps up to the top of the cliff and up to L’Hospitalet, where you can enjoy spectacular, panoramic views of the surrounding region – just don’t forget to take your camera! (One word of note is that the steps up are more suitable for adults, older children and teens, and are likely to be a bit of a hike for very young children).
If you are an art lover, the Museum of Sacred Art lies in the former papal palace and its permanent exhibition charts the history of the Christian faith and pilgrimages in the region. Another place of wonder is the Grotte Prehistorique des Merveilles – where you can marvel at the 25,000 year old cave paintings. The caves are open from spring to autumn (longer in summer) and the entrance is just near the Tourist Information Office.
Another attraction is Bee House, where the whole family can find out more about bees and beekeeping – and stock up on some delicious local honey. Of course, Rocamadour is famed internationally for its goats’ cheese too. So, if you can find a cheese shop on the way there, or back, you can buy this delicious product, fresh bread and other regional delights for a picnic along the way, or to take back with you to your self-catering holiday cottage in South West France.
The Monkey Forest
La Foret des Singes (or Monkey Forest) can be found on the way to Rocamadour. It is a major attraction where you can see up to 150 monkeys within a natural environment. You and your family will be given handfuls of popcorn at the entrance, so you can feed the monkeys as you roam the circuit around the park. If your French is limited, you can find out more about the monkeys at feeding time, as some of the keepers speak English. Feeding the monkeys is probably not recommended for very young children, but older youngsters and teens will love getting involved.
The Ornithological Park
Rocher des Aigles is a fantastic eagle and bird park, which is a must see if you are visiting Rocamadour. Ideal for all ages, it has day-time shows featuring birds performing, interacting with the crowds and flying out from the plateaux and back. You will see a host of birds including bald eagles, parrots, vultures, falcons and buzzards. The the commentary is all in French, but the displays make it all worthwhile – even if you don’t know the language.
Grotte de Padirac
This attraction consists of spectacular caves near Gramat and not far from Romacadour. You can access these incredible caves by a lift or stairs, and take part of the journey by boat. The caves attract up to half a million visitors a year and the tour lasts around ninety minutes. Again, it might not be suitable for very young children.
About Kingfisher Holidays
We have stunning holiday cottages in South West France to rent for a week or more. Our cottages are based right in the heart of the countryside, and each have their own private grounds and either a private or shared swimming pool. To find out about availability of our villas and farmhouses, just click on the link above.