The Causse de Gramat is the northernmost of the causses of Quercy, a group of vibrant, shimmering limestone plateaus between the Lot and the Dordogne.
Quercy was one of the provinces of pre-Napoleonic France and has a history of repeated invasion from Roman times. By the 10th century, it was ruled by the counts of Toulouse, and during the Hundred Years’ War. A series of conflicts waged between 1337 and 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois, rulers of the Kingdom of France and the region was claimed both by France and England. Eventually it was ceded to England, an insecure arrangement that lasted only for a short time.
What to see near Rocamadour
For many today, however, the great delight of the Gramat causse is Rocamadour.
Surrounding this multi-tiered, cliff-hanging pilgrimage site there is a vast expanse of undulating countryside populated by black-eyed sheep and rusty coloured cattle, and patrolled by black kites, buzzards and green woodpeckers.
Moreover, there are three villages that are regarded among the most beautiful in France: Carennac, Loubressac and Autoire. Together they make a satisfying tour from Rocamadour, based around lunch in Loubressac. None of the villages need consume more than an hour or so, but the mellow and chilled pace of life, the warm colours, the heady scent of thyme drifting in from the cause, and the general relaxing ambiance have a captivating charm that can persuade you to linger.
Dr Terry Marsh has written extensively for magazines and produced guidebooks for walkers to the French Pyrenees and the French Alps.