What a day, weekend and a week it’s been! Right now i’m wrapped around blankets in bed with coffee and chocolate looking out my window/door and listening to the sound of the rain. Finally some rain after these hot days! I think the most tiring thing about coming here has been the overworking of senses. Being thrown into another environment i think you have to not only adjust to the place but the different sounds, smells and lifestyle in itself of course. Differences i’ve found is i think when you live in the city i think you definitely miss certain facets of country life. For example this morning i literally woke up to a rooster crowing “cook a doodle doo” It’s bizarre to think now that back at home i thought that was only a cliche which existed in children’s books.
This week has definitely been great. It’s been 30 degrees plus and i’ve been arriving home from school and throwing myself into my family’s swimming pool. It’s been lovely eating dinner outside whilst watching the sunset. I’ve had my first french crepe whilst staying here, and let me tell you it definitely didn’t disappoint. Thinking back a lot of the memorable moments have been me emotionally attaching myself to what i’m eating! At school i’ve made the most lovely group of friends. Even though there is a language barrier it’s a give and take situation- me trying my best to speak French and them trying to speak English. I had my second contemporary dance class. The dance school is hidden in a narrow street and the class in this beautiful room with wooden floors and old paintings. The dance teacher is the sweetest petite lady i just smile whenever i see her!
I know i vowed to myself that i wouldn’t make this blog just a place to store everything i do every time i do things but i cannot help myself… This weekend has just been too great! So… On Sat morning it was drizzling so my host father and i decided against a run, we drove into the town of Brive to fix my phone, i broke, ( grrrrr) and to go to the weekly market that is held. I was so surprised to see how big the market was! It was full of people of all ages children running around, couples and older people. The market is very well known for it’s fresh and local produce. There was endless amounts of fruit, veg, cheese, bread, nuts, meat, seafood, cooked foods ( such as paella) flowers, pataes and many other things.We bought just enough to eat and enjoy over lunch and flowers to last over the weekend. A funny event occured when we were driving out of town and were in a little rush ( i say a little because rushing is unusual here- unlike in Aus) and the car in front of us just stops unexpectedly in the middle of the road, the guy jumps out shakes his friends hand and has a little conversation. Meanwhile ourselves and many other people are just casually waiting for this guy to finish what we hope is a very important conversation!! I think it’s the little things like this which makes me love living here so much!
After lunch we to the Gouffre De Padriac. The Gouffre De Padriac is a huge cave considered one of the greatest geological curiosities of France and most famous cave in Europe. The chasm was created at an undetermined point in time when the roof collapsed into a large internal cavern. It is known it existed in the 3rd century, and was inhabited during the 15h and 16th century when Potassium nitrate was extracted from the area. Inside it continues for 19km. I cannot merely describe how beautiful this cave was. So at normal level you look into this huge whole 103 metres down unable to see the bottom. Then either stairs/lift down to the bottom, walk through this entrance like thing around 250 metres and catch a little boat on the river. This river was so narrow, inside the cave you had to be quite alert otherwise you were sure to bash your head on the rocks. The formations of the rocks are wrought by billions of drops of water. When i looked up from the boat you can just see these rocks interwinding with each other so hi up! Once you get off the boat you explore with a guide the water pools. You couldn’t take photos from inside ( as the light contains a substance that can form moss on the rock) so i got some to show you guys off the postcards i bought.
On the way back after the caves we visited the unique but very mysterious town called Rocamadour. Rocamadour is a town nestled in the face of a 150m cliff, built above the Alzou Canyon in the South- West France and it’ s the perfect place to hold such a spooky legend. Is also a town with a population of 600 but attracts more than a million visitors a year. It is a very holy town with a chapel, a one-time monastery, and a few houses resting at it’s feet. No one is really sure why or how Rocamadour started and is like this now, but it has been a significant religious site since the early tenth century. Today the town survives on pilgrims and tourists coming to pay their respects and euros.
A photo of Rocamadou (
The terracotta-hued rooftops, the flowers hanging from the windows ( a Europe trademark) the ageless view comprise a brilliant landmark.I noticed whilst examining the place, the other people were wandering in silence analysing every aspect of the buildings. I think it was to check that no medieval people will pop out unexpectedly from the places you aren’t allowed access too.
As i walk through the remarkable town of Rocamador and up the steps i imagine what it would’ve been like in the 12th century as a person walking the steps on their knees for forgiveness of their sins. When i was walking i realised i was walking through a once residential museum.
Rocamadour is the home to the sanctuary of the Black Madonna, Durandal the sword of Charlemangne perched up on the mountain and the Miracle Bell.
It is believed the bell rings whenever Our Lady saves someone whose life is threatened, especially sailors.
So heres some back ground research i managed to find:
In 1166 a body was found in a miraculously preserved state in a burial crypt beside the chapel of the Black Virgin. People believed because the body was so well preserved it must have been a saint. Since the 15th century the general consensus is that the body was that of Zaccheus. His wife is well known as Saint Veronica the lovely woman who wiped clean the bloody face of Jesus while he was carrying the crucifixion cross… Husband and wife fled Palestine and settled in this region of France. Before his death while living as a hermit at Rocamadour, angels guided Zaccheus to a Pagan shrine dedicated to the earth. Mother Goddess, which he replaced with a Black Virgin sculptured by Saint Luke.
After Henry II King of England and western France (father of Richard the Lionheart) was cured of an illness, word spread of the miracles occurring at Rocamadour. Already by 1172 a 127 miracles were recorded, the multitudes were starting to pour in.
In the 12th century a collection of 126 reported miracles attributed to Our Lady of Rocamadour was compiled and many more have been recounted since. She has healed the sick and insane, punished criminals, threatened and converted those who did not respect her, won battles for her followers, brought dead babies back to life at least long enough to be baptized, freed captives, protected sailors, helped women conceive and give birth, and performed just about every other imaginable miracle.
A 12th century story:
Three pilgrims from Gosa were passing through the lonely wastelands near Saint-Guilhem, when they were led astray by thieves along remote and impassable tracks, over steep mountains and along valley floors. The robbers treated these innocent people injuriously and attempted to steal the property belonging to these poor of Christ. But the advocate of all mankind, the powerful Lady of Rocamadour, the exceptional star who lights up the world with her radiance, came to the aid of her servants as they called out to her. As was proper, she seized hold of the servants of iniquity, these workers of wickedness, and took away their sight, which is a human being’s most cherished asset. She also paralyzed their hands and rendered them immobile like statues, out of pity leaving them only with the use of their tongues so that they could ask for mercy and express heartfelt penitence. And so with suppliant cries the robbers fell at the pilgrims’ knees and asked that they placate the Lady, who is gentle but had been offended by their misdeeds, with their prayers and merits. The pilgrims were moved by the plight of the afflicted men, and their hearts were touched. They got down on the ground to pray, raised their voices to heaven, and asked the Lady of Mercy to take pity on the wretches. Then the unique Mother of Compassion, the people’s hope for the forsaken who broke the necks of the dragon, the restorer of health, restored the thieves’ senses and returned their bodies to their former health.
A combination of wars, epidemics, climate change and consequent famines considerably reduced the population and prevented people going on pilgrimages. Protestant mercenaries sacked the town during the Wars of Religion, and despite sporadic attempts to rebuild it, Rocamadour remained largely forgotten until the 19th century.
Rocamadour is exactly what you would imagine a princess living with her prince happily ever after. That being said, this town in France is exactly where the story of Rapunzel was inspired from.
I am so amazed of the beauty this town holds it seems surreal i was walking through the town examining the surroundings just yesterday.
Here are some other photos of my travels throughout the week 🙂
Mes amis 🙂
The flea market in Terrasson
Dress bought from the flea.
The pretty sunset from the dinner table.
The local patisserie
Havin fun in the sun
Eating my way through the bag of Carambas.
In love with the view in front of my house! Please don’t change in winter!!