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  • Rocamadour et la Voie Sainte qui descend de l'Hospitalet

You want to know the how and why or are simply looking for more detailed information? In this section you will find the answer to (all?) your questions:

I have arrived at l’Hospitalet, but I do not see Rocamadour...

Don’t worry, that’s normal, as Rocamadour lies lower. You can walk there by taking the Voie Sainte (opposite the Tourist Office) or the chemin de Croix (next to the castle). The different levels of Rocamadour can also be accessed by elevators (payable). Or you can park your car below in the valley and go up to Rocamadour in the small tourist train. This departs every 15 minutes from the valley parking area and brings you up to the medieval city (between April and the end of September, from 10 AM to 7:30 PM). Another way to arrive at Rocamadour is by shuttle bus. This makes various stops between l'Hospitalet, the château and the Porte du Figuier (the Fig Gate) at the entrance of the city. Tickets can be bought from the Tourist Office or on board the shuttle bus.

If you would like to really discover the secrets of this famous pilgrimage town and its Black Madonna, you can participate in a guided tour organised by the Tourist office in July and August, every day of the week, except Sundays. The tour starts at 10 AM from the Tourist Office in l'Hospitalet and at 11:30 from the office in the Cité.

What is the difference between a Rocamadour and a “cabécou”?

The Rocamadour is an official “apellation d'origine controlée” designating a goat’s cheese made from raw whole milk. It belongs to the cabécou family and its appellation is protected by an AOC as well as an AOP (Appelation d’origine protégée, the European equivalent of an AOC). But most importantly: it is a delicious small goat’s cheese, typical for this region.

Why do the houses of this region often have towers?

They are not really towers, but dovecotes. In the beginning, these “pigeonniers” were owned by the aristocracy, but from the 18th century onwards, they were also built at the most modest properties. Although it was interesting to breed pigeons for their meat and the manure from the dovecote, building a pigeonnier undeniably added prestige to a house.

What is the difference between winter truffles and summer truffels?

The winter truffle, or black truffle, has a much more powerful taste and aroma than the summer truffle that is harvested between May and August.The winter truffle can be recognised by its colour (black on the inside, in contrast to the summer truffle, which is white inside), its size (it is usually smaller), its aroma and its price (the black truffle is also called a black diamond...)

Where does “gavage” come from?

No, gavage or force-feeding is not an invention from the Lot but a process going back to ancient Egypte. The pyramid builders also had a taste for refined gourmet food, using the “gavage” method with various species of birds, including geese. The practise continued under the Roman Empire. The “gavage”-technique is based on a natural mechanism which pushes the birds to accumulate as much fat as possible before they migrate.

What is “cavage”?

“Cavage” is a way to search for truffles using a dog or pig. Both animals have an excellent sense of smell and so they can guide their masters to this rare mushroom with its exceptional aroma. If you don’t have a dog or a pig, you can use another method to unearth the coveted tuber: the “fly” technique. A certain type of fly likes to lay its eggs above truffles. If you look close to the ground, you can detect the vertical circular movements these insects make over the truffles.

Is the town Martel linked to Charles Martel?

Although we cannot be certain that Charles Martel has never travelled the busy roads around Martel in the early Middle Ages, the name of the town is definitely not linked to Charlemagne’s grandfather. The name Martel (illustrated by three hammers in the coat of arms) probably stems from three crafts that use a hammer: carpenters, masons and blacksmiths.

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