Europe feature travel vanlife

Rocamadour. How to travel with serendipity:

September 16, 2019

Take the advice of locals. Let their words become early autumn swifts calling you to historic pilgrim sites. On the first day, immerse in white stone medieval abbeys built into the rock face. Eat lemon ice lollies, say ‘bonjour, il est très chaud!’ as you weave down pathways strewn with images of a prophet-turned-moneymaker, then drop into the cool, towering stone of Sanctuaire Norte Dame de Rocamadour, the heart of the pilgrimage: Admirer | Contempler | Prier, (to Admire | to contemplate | to pray).

Maybe you only do the first. Maybe, on reflection, it is not until the second day, surrounded by the magnificence and vibrancy of trees that you do all three as you hike through a forest-filled valley where L’Alzou river is hibernating from the intense end-of-summer heat. The defunct & derelict moulin (mills) that squat along the riverbank counting time, and the two-storey-high watermarks carved into the valley rock, tell an alternate wild & deep story of this river whose dry white bones now suck at the blazing sky. Later in the year L’Alzou will shapeshift again, but her absence leaves your hounds short of water (and therefore you). Hunting for a clean water source has become a way of life in the van and you hike an extra couple of km before striking gold with a tap on the side of a building next to a series of chalets. You loaf & laze for a time before beginning the return walk that is amber honey flowing through the cool greens of trees as you shelter from the sun’s furnace. The final steep hairpin-stepped 2km home is enough to finish you all off. Back at the van, you throw buckets of cold water over naked flesh, lie in the shadow of your home-on-wheels, eat fried green tomatoes with scrambled eggs on toast, drink water, drink water, give thanks to the earth for water…

Featured image, and those above in Rocamadour, by Andy Garside. See @andyrgarside’s Instagram grid for more stunning photos of our travels. Photos below by me.

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