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Motorhome road trip itinerary Occitanie region France | Narbonne to Martel

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Explore the rolling green hills and lush forests of the Occitanie region in south-west France, with a slow road trip on the back roads. Visit medieval villages, get active on cycling and hiking trails and eat fabulous French food, including the local speciality confit de canard. This is a motorhome journey with something for everyone.

One of the best things about doing a road trip in a motorhome in France is that the options for creating routes and itineraries are flexible and broad, and there are so many different ways of exploring this great country. So, there’s no need to do it entirely as we suggest. Nor is it important to start or finish at the same location.

Recently, a reader asked how to get from A to B, and I gave them three different routes to take to get there. There would have been others too. As the saying goes, ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat.’

Details about this itinerary and guide


This itinerary can be done in either order and can link into other routes, depending on the time you have to spend on the road in France and your preference for the areas you travel in.

For example, if you are coming from the UK and spending time on the west coast, then this itinerary will connect perfectly as an extension of that trip. Or, if you are already in the south of France and heading north, then this might be a route you choose to get back up there. We completed this itinerary as part of a larger road trip that started in Narbonne and ended up in Paris, traversing our way from here through the Loire, into the Champagne region, and then into the Ile de France area.

How to use

Because our entire trip and route are too large to write up as one guide and because, as I said above, it can be cobbled together for different trips, I’ve broken this one into a more manageable guide.

Map showing route from narbonne to martel
Narbonne to Martel route

These guides assist those travelling for both short and longer periods. This journey does not use major autoroutes (and tolls), as we always prefer to travel slowly on the smaller roads. While we were often on N roads, there were times, especially in the mountains, when we mosied along the D roads. This itinerary is largely the D roads.


Distance: 315 kilometres – Time: 5.5 hours

This is a great itinerary if all you have is 5-7 days. A 10-day journey to cover this area would be even better.

Much of this area is mountainous, with narrow(ish) winding roads, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the greenery of the Haut-Languedoc Regional Park. Most of the distances travelled are relatively small, so if you wanted to push on and see more or get further, you could. The timelines given below are indicators only.

Depending on how long you have to travel and how much you like an area, you could spend days in one location or a quick drive-through to see the highlights. We are never prescriptive about time; we describe locations and ideas to help you plan.

Narbonne to Martel route as part of Europe map
Narbonne to Martel – overview from France

Season to travel

There’s no reason why you can’t or shouldn’t do this trip any time of the year. Be aware that some of these towns will be popular and therefore super busy in summer, especially those flagged as the ‘prettiest villages in France’. Costs go up, and if you are someone who stays in official campgrounds, pre-booking of sites is recommended.

In winter, the opposite happens. Many of these small towns rely on the peak summer tourist trade and close during winter. Even if they aren’t closed completely, you’ll often find that shops aren’t open and it’s hard to find somewhere to stay, outside of free camping areas, aires etc.

Where to stay in your motorhome

Because we don’t stay in official campgrounds unless we absolutely have to, you’ll notice that we don’t provide a list of all the campgrounds in the town or nearby. If we have stayed in one, or if there is an obvious location – like the ones in Rocamadour that we’ve noted – then we’ll mention it. Otherwise, you can assume we are staying in a wonderful France Passion location, an aire or even wild camping.

More reading: I don’t know the difference between an aire, France Passion, or wild camping. Read our guide on types of motorhome stopovers or more information on aires and Camping-Car Parks.

Need to hire a motorhome?

Not everyone lives in the UK and can put their own motorhome on the ferry or go via the tunnel for a French motorhome holiday. Fortunately, you can hire motorhomes in France really easily. Over the years, we’ve used various motorhome hiring companies. These days, we’ve settled on Anywhere Campers because of their flexible one-way hire model. It was perfect for this trip where we started and ended the trip in two different cities.

We picked up our motorhome in Narbonne (at the train station as previously organised) and dropped it off at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

If you would like to know more about Anywhere Campers, you can read our great review here or reach out to us either via email or on our Planning for motorhome travel in France Facebook page.

If you have longer to travel in this area, you might also like to read the following. The itineraries can be added to this one, or trips to different towns can be made as side trips.

This route cuts across the Lot Valley, a beautiful area of south-west France that follows the Lot River. We have previously done this area, following it across from Arcachon on the west coast via Cahors and the outrageously beautiful Saint Cirq La Popie and down into Roquefort-sur-souzon. Here’s a bit more about that trip here –> Lot Valley France motorhome itinerary

Our 20-day motorhome itinerary in south-west France guide dances all around the towns and areas of this current guide. In making this specific trip, we have carved a line through the middle of two areas completed on previous trips, proving that you can’t see everything on every trip unless you are a full-time traveller covering every town on the map.

Narbonne to Mazamet

Distance: 80 kilometres – Time: 1.5 hours


This motorhome road trip starts in Narbonne, a delightful town in southwest France, where it is well worth spending at least a few days. It’s also a good place to do your initial food shop or restock. While Narbonne has many supermarket chains like Intermarche and Lidl, for some of the best fresh food and produce, make your way to the Les Halles Narbonne, located on the Canal de la Robine. If you’re in a rush, set a timer, as you can stay here for hours if food is your thing. Believe me when I say that the last time we were here, we went as soon as it opened and were still there way after lunch time.

Man and woman with glass of rose in hand sitting at table in Les Halles Narbonne eating charcuterie items
Hanging out and eating great food at Les Halles Narbonne

Narbonne is one of the towns on this trip where you could easily spend several days, or even more, if you head out into the beach areas like Gruissan along the Mediterranean. We have visited here three times now and love it. So, since it is one of our favourites, we won’t go into great detail in this guide as we’ve already written a comprehensive guide on the best things to do in Narbonne here.

The closest motorhome parking to the city (and Les Halles) is at Quai Victor Hugo — 22 Quai Victor Hugo 21, Narbonne.

You might also like to read this related guide: 10-day motorhome itinerary Canal du Midi (starts in Narbonne), and because the Tour de France will be stopping in Gruissan this year, you might also be interested in our guide on following the Tour de France in a motorhome.

As you leave Narbonne,many of the towns and villages are small and compact, although we do visit a few of the larger ones. Many are also classified as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France or the prettiest villages in France; we’ll tag these for easy reference.


You could easily spend one day here, more if you plan on doing any outdoor activities, especially the cycling or hiking trails.

Outdoor activities

Firmly ensconced in the Haut-Languedoc forest at the foot of the Black Mountains (Montagnes Noires), Mazamet is both a pretty town and the base for many who love outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking. It’s close to the start of the 65km rail trail (or Voie Verte as it is known in France).

It’s also home to a 140-metre suspension bridge connecting to Hautpoul that hangs 70 metres above the Arnette Gorge. This one is for you if you’re not afraid of heights and don’t mind the odd bit of swaying as you make your way across the gorge.


If you like wine, those made in the Launguedoc-Rousillon area offer a point of difference; try the local Corbières appellation for wines like marsanne and roussanne, and rosé, grenache, syrah and carignan. Our personal tip is to check out the wines from Domaine La Tasque. Two Brit ex-pats run this winery on age-old vineyards. The wine is tasty too.

An unusual fact is that many of the street names in this town are Australian, honouring its connection with the Australian wool industry. Specifically in Mazamet, they have been known for removing wool from sheep’s skin, which is often exported from Australia.


For almost a century, up until the 1950s/1960s, Australia was said to be “riding on the sheep’s back,” a reference to the value of sheep and their wool in the global market. Exports were high, and the country was said to enjoy a high standard of living as a result. So too, was Mazamet, and its glorious and obviously wealthy buildings, built on the back of its wool industry, still stand today.


Mazamet is also a market town, with three taking place each week: Tuesday and Saturday (outdoor) and Sunday (covered market hall). If you can only get to one, we recommend going on either Tuesday or Saturday. In the summer, there’s also a night market, where you can buy something to eat for dinner from local producers and eat it at nearby tables set up in the square

Motorhome stopover

There is a free aire in Mazamet offering free water. It’s a hard stand parking area, open all year around, but unavailable on Friday-Saturday as the market operates here.

Location: Borderd by Rue Galibert-Ferret, Champ de la Ville and Rue de l’Egalite. GPS – N43, 49089 E2, 37918

We stayed at a basic aire at nearby Pont-de-Larn – approximately three kilometres from Mazamet – offers an off-road spot beside a park in a quiet residential area. There are limited spaces available here, and all are in close proximity to each other. There are no facilities available.

Location – Boulevard de la Mairie 81660 Pont-de-Larn, near the Town Hall. GPS – N43,50460 E2, 40456

large motorhome and small campervan
Our overnight motorhome stopover at Pont-de-Larn aire. We parked right up against the hedge for more privacy.

Mazamet to Albi

Distance: 62 kilometres – Time: 1 hour

This trip section ends up at Albi, but we recommend spending at least one day there. To follow this itinerary, you should continue visiting Albi the next day. If you are interested in all the museums and galleries that Albi offers, you can easily spend two days there.


Castre is a large town built along the Agout River. It has some large green spaces and some beautiful churches. The pick of the buildings are the coloured buildings that line the river, once part of the leather and cloth industries.

Boulangerie Julier is the pastry and bread shop of choice for locals, and the queues provide good evidence of this.

Millefeuille French pastry
Millefeuille from Boulangerie Julier Castre

You’d be unlucky to miss the markets in Castre, with the open-air version happening Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the local squares; you’ll find it in either Place Jean Jaures or Place Pierre Fabre. The undercover market, Albinque, is located in Place Pierre Fabre, across the road from Boulangerie Julier (above). It is open from Tuesday to Sunday.

We went on a Sunday, and it was quiet. Many of the shops were closed, but those that were there were still very good.

Fruit, vegetables and bread from Albinque covered market Castres
Our goodies from the Albinque covered market and the boulangerie.


One of our favourite towns is known for pink garlic (L’Ail Rose de Lautrec), half-timbered houses, narrow laneways, and a windmill. If you find the windmill, you’ll also have sweeping views of the medieval village below and rolling hills all around.

We visited Lautrec, another of France’s most beautiful towns, in late April when the wisteria was blooming, covering many buildings and weaving its way all over the hills. The garlic, however, was ne’er to be found as it was out of season.

Wisteria and a view of Lautrec

We also came on a Sunday, so the combination of late April and the ‘day of rest’ meant that we could spend much time wandering around the town and climbing the hill without too many people.

Lautrec cobbled laneways with buikldings both sides
Lautrec street

Good to know: If you do want to find pink garlic, the season starts in midsummer and runs through winter. On the first Friday of August each year, a two-day festival celebrates the garlic season.

Visitors to Lautrec are usually drawn to the many shops in the streets that are overflowing with blue garments, including scarves, shirts, pants, and skirts. I was intrigued by it all and so had to stop to do some research. Many of the towns in this area were once involved in the cloth and cloth-dying industries, which has a strong influence.

The introduction of and subsequent trading of clothing dye made many people very wealthy in the nearby towns of Albi, Toulouse and Carcassonne in particular. The dye, made from the ‘pastel’ plant and created in Toulouse, was used for much of the clothing of French kings.

So, in Lautrec, local artisans have re-created that vibe, keeping the skill of hand-dying cloth alive and producing hand-made, unique clothing for locals and visitors alike. One of these clothing stores is shown in the photo below.

narrow laneways and half-timbered houses in Lautrec
A typical Lautrec streetscape with blue clothing store

There are some good restaurants here, but many are usually busy (and booked out) for Sunday lunch. Remember to book ahead if you have your heart set on dining here, especially in peak travel times.

Le Jardin du Clocher is our restaurant pick for higher-end traditional French fare (although it does have a plat du jour), and La ferme dans l’assiette for more of a bistro feel. It’s also a good spot to have an afternoon aperitif.

Location: Le Jardin du clocher – 4 Rue de la Rodé and La ferme dans l’assiette – 6 Rue du Mercadial

Café Plùm, a Lautrec icon, is a good place to stop for a coffee or lunch on the way to or from the windmill. Chances are, when you visit, you’ll find live music playing, and there’s also a bookstore here.

Location: 12 Rue de Lengouzy

Cafe Plum Lautrec inside stone wall with arch
Café Plùm Lautrec

Climb to the windmill

The stone windmill – the most-visited location in Lautrec – sits atop a hill with unrivalled views over the town. Originally built in 1688, it has been beautifully renovated to keep it standing for centuries more(hopefully). It remains, somewhat unbelievably, a working flour mill today.

There are two ways to access the windmill; one is a little more hidden, and you only know it exists if you’ve been there.

  1. To access the windmill via the walking trail, start at Rue de Lengouzy (if you make it to Café Plùm, it’s just a little further on from there (toward the edge of town, but don’t go as far as the D83). It’s easy enough to spot because there is a carpark here (along All. des Promenades). Follow the road to the left (inside) of All. des Promenades called Chem. de l’Abreuvoir. This winds up the hill and eventually onto dirt tracks. It’s a pleasant walk, although it’s all uphill. Flora is abundant along the way, and many of the plants have botanical explanations on signs nearby.
  2. Off Rue de Esprit – near Place du Monument – there is a set of stone stairs that take you, once again uphill, directly to the windmill.
Stairs leading from windmill to village in Lautrec
Stairs leading from the windmill to the village

Our tip: Once you’ve done the hard work and walked up to the top the long way around, take the steps on the way back down.


Lautrec’s old covered market no longer operates, but the town square fills up with producers each Friday.

Once you get to the windmill, there is a track you can keep climbing to get to the very top, known as Calvaire Salette.

The old covered market in Lautrec
The old covered market in Lautrec

Motorhome parking

As Lautrec is a typically small village, parking a large vehicle like a motorhome isn’t possible within the old town. There are two main areas where you can park a motorhome. Just up the hill from the Boulangerie Le Pancossier, on the D83, there are several spots where you can park safely. There’s plenty of room on the shoulder, with no restrictions, and it’s free.

At the end of Avenue de Castres (D83), a roundabout connects with the D92 and Rue de la Caussade. The roundabout has a cool Toulouse Lautrec-painted phone box nearby, so you can’t miss it. If you continue following the D83, opposite the brasserie/pizzeria ‘Terrasses’, there are several wider spots available behind the marked parks on the left-hand side of the road (see image below).

Alternatively, you can drive to the windmill’s walking access point and park at All. des Promenades.

Motorhome parked on the D83 at Lautrec France
We parked our motorhome on the D83 just outside the old town of Lautrec

Motorhome stopover

There are no official campgrounds in Lautrec; however, there is an aire just outside the town, off the D92. It’s a hard-stand parking area with water, a dump station and electricity for around €8 per night.


Duration: You could easily spend one day here, more if you are planning on doing any of the outdoor activities, especially the cycle or hiking trails.

Albi is a standout in this area due to its aggregation of red brick buildings, a clear distinction from many of the surrounding smaller villages built on stone. Even the beautiful arched bridges that cross the Tarn River are made from red brick. The unmissable cathedral rises over them all.

red brick buildings and arched bridges of Albi

Albi Cathedral

Albi Cathedral—also known as the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia—is said to be the largest brick cathedral in the world. At 78 metres high, 35 wide, and 113 long, it’s an imposing structure on the Albi skyline. Try standing right beside it, and images of ants and mountains immediately emerge.

The cathedral and its surrounding church buildings, including the Bishop’s Palace, are now all classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

There’s also some great cafes, bars and restaurants immediately around the cathedral area. We had a quick drink at ‘Esprit du Moulin’ before heading out of town.

Albi Cathedral
Albi Cathedral

Pont Vieux

The impressive eight-arch red brick bridge was built in the 11th century and is part of the Albi landscape for good reason. From the bridge, you can have extensive views up and down the Tarn River.

The Albi France riverscapoe
The Albi France riverscapoe

Our tip: Near the northern end of the Pont Vieux, around 61 Rue de Porta, is a viewing area that is worth finding for epic photos of the town.

man in blue shirt and jeans and women in black standing against a backdrop of river and red brick buildings
Taking in the river views of Albi. The Pont Neuf is in the background.

Toulouse-Lautrec Museum

The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum is located right beside the cathedral. It pays homage to the well-known artist who was born in the town.

Toulouse Lautrec Museum
Toulouse Lautrec Museum


Albi has food markets every day in several of the open-air spaces in town. The covered market also opens every day except Monday.

Albi covered market
Albi covered market

Motorhome stopover

There is a free aire near the Cimetière de la Madeleine, north of the river and opposite to the old city and cathedral. It’s a reasonably large grassed area with an internal road to prevent driving all over the grass to access a site.

There is a service area just outside the aire, with a ‘borne’ providing free access to water and a dump station.

Location: 13 Chem. de Pratgraussals, 81000 Albi

motorhomes parked at an aire de service
Albi Aire

We rode our bikes from the aire across the river to the cathedral. It was an easy two-kilometre ride, with plenty of stops along the way to admire the city’s beauty from the other side.

Note: There is a shorter route for bikes across the Pont Vieux (the bridge in the background of the photo below), but at the time of our visit, this route was restricted due to maintenance work. It may reopen in the future. We rode across the Pont Neuf (Blvd Strasbourg).

man on bike and another bike on bridge
Riding our bikes across the Pont Neuf

If you are looking for somewhere to pull up for a short period that is closer to the city, there is some parking next to the Base de Loisirs de Pratgraussals, a large green park area.

Albi to Cordes-sur-Ciel

Distance: 25 kilometres – Time: 26 minutes


As we explored yet another of France’s prettiest villages, I realised how hard it was to pick a favourite. I also realised how wonderful it was to work our way through the winding, hilly, cobbled streets almost by ourselves. Travelling to more unknown locations combined with out-of-peak travel benefits us in so many ways. This is clearly one of them.

Cordes-sur-Ciel is becoming more well-known, however, and like Rocamadour (our next stop), it’s becoming more of a tourist town, which is a shame. But, as mentioned above, if you come out of season, you’d never know apart from a few tourist-oriented shops.

cobbled streeet with beautiful stone buildings either side
More beautiful streetscape in Cordes-sur-ciel

Cordes-sur-Ciel is another hilltop town, and as all towns fight for our attention, I can’t help but think that anything medieval, fortified (full marks if their walls are still intact) and on a hill, is going to push its way to the top part of my list. Yes indeed, hilltop towns are stunning.

Perhaps it is also because these landscapes with stone buildings all hunched together in seemingly unworkable locations are the images I have always had of France in my mind. So, when I’m far away from here, all I need to do is close my eyes and picture these hill-hugging towns and I’m transported back immediately.

Making your way to the top of the town (and hill) requires a lot of uphill walking. If you find this a challenge, you can jump aboard the Le Petit Train down at Place de la Bouteillerie. However you get there, our tip is to wear comfortable shoes. This is really no place for anything that doesn’t have a flat sole. In wet conditions, walking downhill can be quite precarious for some.

cobbled road with builkdings either side and a man standing in middle of road
This gives an idea of the gradient of the streets

We loved just walking slowly up and around the many lanes that run off the main road, stopping to admire views from hidden vistas.

Gap between two stone buildings with a view out over the hills
One of the many stops we made to admire the view


There are many shops in the town, some of which are clearly aimed at tourists, but they are still interesting to spend time in. To be honest, I found that the food stores there weren’t as overpriced as I imagined they might be, but of course, when it comes to pricing, it’s all relative. I also find that it’s rather easy to ignore anything that resembles a shop selling plastic trinkets and postcards.

Conversely, it’s easy to spot the true craftspeople and artisans, often tucked away at the bottom of the ancient buildings. I never let that get in the way of enjoying the town’s underlying charm, and Cordes-sur-Ciel has this in spades.

Our tip: To see the local craftspeople, it is recommended that you come here a little later, as they don’t open early and usually not before 10 a.m.

At House Prunert, you can kill two birds with one stone; admire the 13th-century arched sandstone building from the street, and then duck inside to make your way through the Musée des Arts du Sucre et du Chocolat for a range of interesting chocolate and sugar work. It’s also known for having great ice cream. For even more chocolate and other sweets, don’t miss nearby Saunier Chocolaterie.

Chocolaterie Saunier Cordes sur Ciel chocolate
Chocolaterie Saunier

Les Délices du Terroir is a foodie’s delight. You can pick up saucisson, local wine, and a range of unusual violet-infused goodies here.


The former covered market is now an area serviced by cafes and restaurants. We selected ‘Auberge de la Halles’ from several in this area for a quick coffee. Not far away, you’ll find a great view at the ‘La Panoramique’ where it looks out over the ramparts and into the rolling hills below.

cafe chairs and tables under covered market area
The old covered market, now a square of cafe tables and chairs

Motorhome stopover

As this is another small village, parking is only possible on the perimeter. There is a very good aire just outside town, with easy walking access up to the main road, where you can continue walking to the hilltop village. Actually, having a motorhome in Cordes-sur-Ciel is somewhat of a bonus, as finding an ordinary carpark up in the village, especially when it is busy, can be difficult.

The aire is open all year round; however, services are unavailable during winter. It costs €8 per night to stay. Electricity and water are additional services. Payment is made at an on-site machine via pre-paid jetons from another nearby machine. Note you will need a credit card to access the machines. The site is quite a large area and is mostly grass and gravel, depending on the season.

Location: Parking les Tuilleries GPS – N44, 06453 E1, 95802. As you are coming into town from either direction along the D600, you need to come off onto the D8. It’s a right-hand side slip lane if you are coming from Albi. If you come from the other direction, it’s more like a hairpin turn. The signs visible from the southern approach show the direction to Bournazel and the aire de camping car. Follow the signs to L’Hopital and eventually the aire.

There are stairs and a walking path that lead from the aire up to the town. Take note of where you come out as it’s quite a non-descript entry point, and it’s easy to ‘lose it’ on your return. It comes out just to the right of a gallery, ‘Atelier – Galerie Marle and Stanko Kristic. It’s adorned with artwork on the wall, so it’s a good marker. On the way back, there’s also an ‘accès piétons’ sign signalling the start of the trail.

The stairs that lead from the Cordes-sur-ciel aire up to the town.
Stairs from the aire that connect with the town

Stairs bring you out at the main road (D600), across from Place de la Bouteillerie, which is conveniently the start of the ascent into the old village. If you aren’t sure, look for Place Jeanne Ramel-Cals, the building with all the pale blue shutters and the ‘Cite’ sign. Grand Rue de l’Horloge, immediately to the right of this building as you look at it, is the best road to take you up.

Cordes-sur-Ciel to Rocamadour

Distance: 125 kilometres Time: 2 hours


Rocamadour was an absolute standout. This city is set up for tourists; the sheer number of paid carparks upon entry to this incredible town makes this obvious. But this place built on the edge of a steep rocky outcrop overlooking a gorge is one that should not be missed. Spend a little or a long time here, but add it to your list.

If the village of Rocamadour were designed today, many engineers would be on the project to ensure that all of the requirements for placing buildings right on the edge of a cliff face were met. It would no doubt require years of study and preparation, even before a single stone was turned. Then, once construction was underway, can you imagine the cost to build it all?

This is one of the reasons why towns such as this in France and further afield in Europe amaze me so much. They could have been built so long ago without any of that formal expertise or technology to assist, yet they all stand centuries later. These are the engineering feats of old, without question.

Not content with building the town on top of the hill, it was built over three levels from the river up. The lower town has shops and looks more like a regular city. The middle level is home to the sanctuary, and the chateau sits at the very top.

old French village of Rocamadour built on a hill
Rocamadour as seen from the road approaching the village

The town can be traced back to the 12th century and the discovery of a body in the cliffs. I won’t go into all the details as religious history isn’t my forte, but suffice it to say that it set off a chain reaction that resulted in Rocamadour being built and it becoming one of the most important pilgrimage trails in the world, including part of the Camino de Santiago trail.

Like many European towns, it suffered a great fate in the mid-1500s and was destroyed through war. It was later restored in the 19th century, thus eventually growing into a well-traversed town by visitors who flock in their millions every year.

rocamadour chateau built on edge of cliff face
The Rocamadour Chateau – view from the Chemin de Croix path

Access to the medieval city

All areas of Rocamadour can be accessed via the top (at the chateau and ramparts) or the lower town.

Because we parked at P2, we started at the chateau and chose to take the Chemin de Croix, the zig-zag path that cuts through the leafy park. While we chose to walk down and back up again, a funicular and elevator is available to assist those with mobility issues or who need a break from walking.

Note: The lift (ascenseur) to return to the top is in Rue Roland le Preux. It is very clearly signed with Ascenseur de Rocamadour, and there is a ticket booth on the street.

Walking the path is not difficult, but if you are walking back up it’s an enduring climb. The good thing is that there are plenty of spots to stop and take a break and at the end of each hairpin turn, there’s a religious shrine that you can stop at and read the information about each one. Once again, these are very important milestones for religious reasons.

There’s also a cave along the way carved out well back into the rock, with pillars that make you wonder whether they are decorative or holding up the roof!

an undercover cave with columns at rocamadour
The cave built into the rock along the walkway

The sanctuary

The path eventually ends at the sanctuary, an area built midway up the rock and comprising eight chapels and churches. It’s an incredible sight as they are built together, hugging each other and the rock face. We kept looking skyward, amazed at how these buildings were built and stayed there!

sanctuary buildings built into rock rocamadour
The buildings of the sanctuary all built around the square

From the sanctuary, 216 stone steps of the Great Staircase lead down or up, depending on your direction of travel to the medieval town below. It is said that the early-day pilgrims climbed them on their knees!

Our tip: There are spots to stop and look out over the valley for some pretty epic views. Take the time to look for them.

The medieval town

The town is a long, narrow, cobbled street – Rue de la Couronnerie runs into Rue Roland La Preux – filled with various shops, clothing boutiques, leather shops, cafes and restaurants, all calling out for your tourist dollar. As foodies, we were attracted to anything selling French food, and there were some very good spots here, including Boutique Valette Foie Gras Gastronomie.

However, a few shops are selling that tell-tale bright blue and green ice cream and frozen slushies you’d normally associate with a fair or show, or in this case, tourist towns.

streets of medieval rocamadour
Streets of the medieval town

If you want a drink or meal with a view, many of the restaurants on the river side of the street, like Hotel Beau Site and L’Essentiel have rear balconies or windows with views.

We went to Crêperie la Maison de Famille, a great place to get a tasty French galette. It has a good view and is also a good spot to get a closeup of the Le Petit Train as it comes to the end of its route here.

Man in black jacket with beer and french galette on table
Stirling eating a galette

Our tip: If you can, get here in the shoulder season. There are fewer tours, tour buses and people. This makes a huge difference, especially in the sanctuary and in the village’s narrow laneways. We were here in late April and had very few people in town when we visited. In summer, the laneway is packed.

Nearby things to visit

We didn’t go to either of these spots as they didn’t appeal to us, but they remain major drawcards in the local area.

  • La Forêt des Singes – the monkey forest
  • Gouffre de Padirac

We recommend driving to the La Borie d’Imbert Chevre farm just out of town. You can tour the goat and pig farms here and watch the goats get milked. You can also watch them make the famous Rocamadour cheese and then pop across the road to the store to buy day-old fresh Rocamadour AOP cheese and other fabulous food.

Don’t miss their Cassoulet de Justine; it is the bomb! You can buy it here to take home or order a platter and sit outside to enjoy it all (weather dependent).

cassoulet and rocamadour AOP
Cassoulet and Rocamadour AOPa chevre

Motorhome parking

There are four main parking areas, identified as P1-P4.

  • P1 – L’Hospitalet – large lot, barriers. This also doubles as an overnight paid aire. D673, L’Hospitalet.
  • P2 – Ascenseurs – Chateau – largest of all the carparks, hard stand, barriers. This is also an overnight aire, and by usual aire standards, it’s quite expensive, currently around €18 at peak times. There are no height barriers here, and the ticket machine at the barrier has dual heights for cars and motorhomes/trucks. This is the best car park with the closest access to the old city. It is also serviced by an elevator if you do not want to walk the path (Chemin de Croix). D200, Route de la Corniche.
  • P3 – Les Garennes – barrier, no large vehicle parking. There is a 2.5-metre height restriction. D36, L’Hospitalet.
  • P4 – LA Garroustie – barrier, motorhome parking available. D36, L’Hospitalet.
  • There is general vehicle car parking all around the town and down by the river, which is metered. Parking large (and long) vehicles in these parks is not possible.

There is some off-street parking available down near the Le Petit train station.

Note that despite what many online forums say, all parking areas are now subject to fees during peak times. Parking may be free at non-peak times only.

If you park in P1, P3 or P4, or anywhere in the streets of L’Hospitalet, access to the citadel and upper town is either by walking – the length will vary depending on where you parked – or the Petit Train. Like in Cordes-sur-Ciel, the train is part touristic and part helpful for those who can’t or don’t want to walk up steep hills or for longer distances. The train runs from the valley area, L’Hospitalet, up to the start of the upper town.

Our tip: Unless you are going to visit the La Foret des Singes (Monkey Forest), don’t park here and then leave for the day. You’ll often see many motorhomes parked here, and there is a dedicated area for them. But this car park is for those who have purchased tickets to see the monkeys and not for general parking. There is a notice in French at the entrance advising of this, and you may face a fine if you are caught, so be aware.

Motorhome stopover

If you plan to spend a full day in Rocamadour, it would be a good idea to stay overnight, either before or after, as you don’t have to worry about parking.

As you’d expect in a town set up to cater for large numbers of visitors, several official campgrounds are dotted around the town. Camping Koawa Les Cigales and Le Relais du Campeur are closest to the town and are located on the main road D36, in the local area known as L’Hospitalet. Both of these are not open in the winter season, however Camping Les Campagnes is open all year. It’s about one kilometre from the old city.

There is also an aire at the P1 L’Hospitalet parking lot for around €5 per night and at P2, although this is more expensive and has no facilities. Camping-Car Parks also have a site nearby.

As lovers of something a little more spacious and free, we chose to stay at a local farm that was part of the France Passion network. It was only a short drive into town, or riding in by bike takes about 30 minutes (just short of four kilometres).

**Note – If you are ever wondering why I never give exact details of any France Passion sites we stay at, it’s because they are part of a paid membership network. We have used this network for over 20 years; we love and support it. It doesn’t cost much, and you can read more about how France Passion works here and here.

Anywhere Campers motorhome parked up in Rocamadour France
Parked up by ourselves at a goat farm in Rocamadour

Rocamadour to Martel

Distance: 23 kilometres – Time: 25 minutes


Our next stop was Martel, a short half-hour drive from Rocamadour, heading north along the D840. The countryside is similar to what we’ve already driven, with rolling green hills and agricultural land.

It’s another one of France’s beautiful towns, and its small size and even smaller laneways draw you in. If you come here at siesta time, you’ll surely find yourself wandering alone. If you combine that with the low season, there’s an even greater chance you’ll have the town almost to yourself. Just remember that with siesta time comes a lack of open facilities, including shops.

A 12th-century town, its heyday has long vanished, but what remains is a small town that is perfect for taking it easy around the laneways and admiring the beauty around you.

It’s home to a couple of weekly markets – the Saturday one is the busiest – and each January, it has markets that trade in the local black truffle.

We didn’t do it, but the steam train ride here is apparently also worth doing.

old covered market in Martel France
The old covered market in Martel

Motorhome parking

The easiest parking is in dedicated car parking areas along Ave de Nassogne. There’s an area where mostly cars park—and it would be difficult to get a large vehicle in here—but if you keep travelling along the road, away from the town, there are some spots at the end where you can reverse in, perpendicular to the road.

Motorhome servicing

If you keep following the Ave de Nassogne further along, you will see a sign for a motorhome service area. Turn right into Rue du 19 Mars, and you’ll see a small turnaround area on the right-hand side. Here there is a municipal ‘borne’ service point where you can get fresh water, currently €2.20 for 100 litres and dump your toilet waste. Note that payment is by credit card only.

motorhome parked up and attached to machine to get fresh water
Aire de service in Martel

Motorhome stopover

There is a Camping-Car Park nearby at La Callopia.

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Other French motorhome itineraries

Useful motorhome resources

We’ve got plenty of guides on motorhoming in other areas here, but these are some of the key guides that our readers check out, especially if they are new to the fabulous world of motorhome trips.

Best occitanie motorhome road trip france

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