Perched above the Dordogne River, La Roque-Gageac is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ("The most beautiful villages of France") association and one of our favourite places to picnic.
- Distance from Les Lavandes: 44 Kilometres Approx
- Market Day: Friday
- Restaurants: Open March to November
- Gabares Boat Trips
- Chateau de la Malartrie
- Tourists Sites: Open May to mid-September
- Map Grid: B3
La Roque-Gageac, a village listed among the 'Most Beautif'ul Villages of France, is nestled between the cliffside and the Dordogne River. Its southern exposure provides it with a virtually Mediterranean microclimate. The white and ochre façades of its houses align along the bank of the river. A number of winding lanes lead to the foot of the cliffside, offering a magnificent view over the river. Halfway up the cliff next to the church, the natural solarium formed by the rock sustains a surprisingly exotic garden of palm trees, banana plants, agaves, fig trees, cacti and bamboos. While some of the properties in La Roque Gageac are quite modest, there is also an impressive number of grand houses among them. One of the grandest of these is near the road as you enter from Beynac - the 19th century (although it appears older) Chateau de la Malartrie built in Renaissance style. If you continue beyond, you will discover the Manoir de Tarde, a Renaissance manor that still overlooks the heart of the village.
The troglodyte fort set in the cliffs 40 metres above La Roque Gageac is fascinating, and significant vestiges of the 12th century construction are still visible. The strong defensive position of La Roque Gageac and the fortress whose defences continued to be built upon up to the 17th century ensured that it held an important strategic and defensive position in the area.
The whole village, but especially near the church, is an interesting 'tropical style' exotic garden that you can wander through as you walk up the hill. The variety of plants is made possible because the cliff behind the village protects it from the cold weather from the north, while the open view to the south ensures it catches plenty of sunshine. It was created by Gerard Dorin in 1970 and has flourished ever since. La Roque Gageac has always been an important trading point on the Dordogne. The best way to discover the village from the river is to embark aboard one of its famous cargo barges, Gabares. These traditional flat-bottomed boats were historically used to transport merchandise along the Dordogne. The majority of the cargo barges that reached this area of the river would never return, as they were dismantled them upon their arrival to be sold as firewood. Replicas of these boats are now used for hour long river cruises. These start from various points along the river Dordogne with those at La Roque Gageac sailing past the Chateau de la Malartie, the Chateau de Lacoste, the Chateau de Marqueyssac and the Chateau de Castelnaud. Each boat has a guide describing the sights, nature and history of the area but free audioguides in English are provided. See our River section for more details.
There is a food market : From May to mid-September, on Friday morning.