Looks very picturesque, but...worth going to and staying there? Suggestions?
It is very picturesque and worth going to, especially if you're interested in old churches, but I'm not sure I'd want to stay there. We did it as a day trip while in the Dordogne. It took us most of the day for travel time and our visit - it's off the beaten path despite its popularity. At one time it was a major pilgrimage destination, now it is a popular tourist destination. The main street going through the village is very touristy, but interesting, and we did have a nice lunch there. The setting and view of the valley are stunning.
We did a day trip there while staying in the area. Mostly because it was so blazing hot, we left after lunch and went to the Gouffre de Padirac, an astonishingly huge cave system (highly recommended). In retrospect, half a day seems right, but maybe that's the memory of the heat blotting out everything else. Rocamadour is close to many other worthwhile sights, but I think there are some other places that would make better bases for exploring the region.
Any suggestions for an alternate base for the region (good food, good shopping/markets, good accommodations)?
If you go, go (and leave) early, or go late. Similar strategy (and vibe) as Mont St Michel
I definitely would not stay there. We enjoyed it only because we were with very dear French friends that took us there, but it wasn't a highlight for sure. Interesting but very, very touristy. We were there in July, maybe I'd like it more in the off-season.
We stayed one night at a B&B just outside Rocamadour. It was perfect because we only had to drive a short and easy distance to get a good view of Rocamadour at night. And when we left there, it was easy to head on a loop looking at more of France's Most Beautiful Villages and get to Sarlat in the middle of the afternoon. La Noyeraie was a very nice night's stay and sent us off after a delicious breakfast. If you need any other information, send me a private message. Rocamadour is very small so you won't need a huge amount of time to see it all. We were there in May and it was not too crowded. I understand that in the middle of the summer it can be packed. I might not have enjoyed it so much then.
I would really appreciate some specific recommendations for towns or villages in which to stay as a base in the Mid-Pyrenees area, especially recommendations for an exceptional small B&B or Inn.
This is one of our favorite regions in France. We always stay just outside of Sarlat at http://www.carlucet.com/en/ It is a fabulous bed and breakfast and makes a great base camp for exploring the region. I can't recommend this place enough!!!