La Roque Gageac
La Roque Gageac, a magnificent village officially classified as one of the most beautiful in France.
Tucked away in a stunning position on the north bank of the Dordogne River, and backed by steep cliffs, with little to suggest that much has changed there in the last 300 years, La Roque Gageac is truly the perfect picture postcard village.
The site has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as witness the many flint axe-heads and other stone tools found in its fields and gardens.
During the Gallo-Roman period the quieter life under the “Pax Romana” encouraged people to set up quite sizeable settlements on the gentler slopes to the east of the village, and even to lay a Roman road. But from the year 850 onwards, the dangers presented by the incursions of Viking longboats, in particular, led the populace to seek shelter and build fortifications on the safest site, between cliff and river.
The Hundred Years War, and then France’s bitter “Wars of Religion”, turned La Roque Gageac into a key stronghold, impregnable and densely populated
Most of its present buildings date from this period, together with its troglodytic forts in the cliff-face (which can be visited) and vestiges of the former summer palaces of the Bishops of Sarlat. The Renaissance period saw the construction of some beautiful homes, such as the Manoir de Tarde, the manor-house of the Tarde family, which dominates the heart of the village to this day.
River traffic became increasingly important, with a very busy flow of cargo-carrying.
“gabares” (the Dordogne’s traditional flat-bottomed boats), as well as abundant commercial fishing, which continued right up to the beginning of the 20th century.
The village’s situation turns it virtually into a large natural solarium, and this has made possible the creation of extraordinary “exotic gardens”, alongside the church, halfway up the cliff, with luxuriant sub-tropical and Mediterranean plants.
You will find the warmest of welcomes from La Roque-Gageac and its inhabitants, known as the “Laroquois”, as well as wonderful gastronomic experiences in a region famed for its fine food.
Les Papillons is 5 minutes drive from La Roque Gageac