The small chapel at l'Hospitalet on top of Rocamadour. Photo: Mark Alexander

It all started when I decided that I knew better than the SatNav and the warning signs. I was convinced that there was a car park right next to the entrance of Rocamadour. Not the one on the side of the main road that was full but another one. So I kept driving until I reached the river level of town where there was a decent size car park. That wasn’t it, I though, so I kept on driving.

I passed the stop for the tourist train and that’s when the road began to narrow. It felt bumpier too and there were no road marks either. The SatNav was desperately urging me to “make a U-turn” but I ignored it and carried on, convinced I knew better.

Slight uncertainty kicked in when the road turned into a dirt track and began to wind its way up the cliff, on the outer edge of the rock! This was definitely pass the no return point. I had no choice but to keep on driving, hoping for this goat track to turn into a main road or at least – join one.

I turned the radio off and opened the windows listening to the tires crunching on the loose gravel. There was quite a bit of dust coming in too but that wasn’t my worry. At this point I kept imagining all sorts of emergencies vehicles trying to rescue me. Imagine the embarrassment and the hefty bill! Best not think about it too much.

Eventually, I came to a wider part with a narrow stone gate. There was a road on the other side of the gate but the car was wider than the opening. My best bet was to do a three-point turn and go back.

It would have been as easy as it sounds if it weren’t for the huge rocks on the side of the road. They didn’t stop me trying to turn though but my efforts ended when my car got stuck between a rock and a hard place – quite literally!! There was the rock at the front and the cliff at the back with some overgrowth between it and the car.

That’s when a younger couple who looked like they were headed to a music festival, pulled behind me. I kid you not! The guy was determined to go past to get through the stone gate but I had other priorities. I needed to evaluate the situation and find a way to get out of it. A couple of hippies in an old camper van were not going to intimidate me in the slightest. They made me smile though.

After a short while, a German couple walked through the gate and, at that point, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. They came up to me and the guy told me they were on a pilgrimage hike. Not just that but they were waiting for a whole lot of other pilgrims to join them, implying that I was blocking their way. So, he offered to assist me in my three-point turn. Eventually, my car was facing the way back and I was relieved to see that narrow stone gate in my rear-view mirror.

The young couple were there to stay as they had the camper van door open and it looked like they were preparing lunch. I couldn’t wait to put my foot down and get out of there. I’m glad I got out of it in one piece and without a scrape on my car!

It’s unlikely that they will read this but I’d like to thank the German couple for their assistance and preventing me from driving off the edge of the cliff.

This is the second time on this road trip when I wished I had a GoPro to record this experience and share with you. You really couldn’t make it up. It was that comical and far-fetched.

Time to call it a day and hope that tomorrow is much more boring 🙂 Don’t forget to come back and read about it.


  1. I’ve been there 3 weeks ago. Pretty amazing place but it’s impossible to go by car, it’s way too small !

    And there’s a free car park at the top near the castle.


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