Visiting The Fort Of The Middle Ages In La Roque-Gageac

Looking for medieval vibes in the Dordogne region of southern France?

Let me recommend the Fort of the Middle Ages in the beautiful village of La Roque-Gageac.

It’s a fascinating historical site perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Dordogne River. This strategic position provided an excellent vantage point for defense.

The fort’s origins date back to the 12th century, and it played a significant role during the Hundred Years’ War.

Fort of the Middle Ages with steel staircase
Fort of the Middle Ages

Visitors can explore the remnants of the fortification, including parts of the old wall and towers, which offer stunning views of the surrounding area and the picturesque village below. 

Quick Tips:

  • wear comfy shoes, as the pathways are uneven
  • the fort isn’t for anyone scared of heights because the entry staircase is on a a sheer cliff
  • plan to spend 30-60 minutes visiting the fort
  • tickets are € 7
view of the fort

Guide To Le Fort De La Roque-Gageac

The Roque-Gageac fort is a fortified troglodytic space over 130 feet above ground. It was built as part of a manorial compound, consisting of a bishop’s castle and knights houses.

The fort served mainly as an observational post overlooking the valley and the river. But it was also equipped with defensive elements and weapons.

With its high recessed position under the cliff overhang, it was nearly impregnable.

In ancient times, it was accessed by a wooden and stone staircase, pictures of which look downright perilous. The stone steps were cut directly into the walk.

Today, the wooden staircase has been replaced with a steel staircase. But you can still walk up the 140 steps just like the knights of yore.

The staircase includes four landings, so you can stop and rest and take in the views. It’s also wide enough for people to pass one another. But the priority is for people going down..

When you reach the top, you’ll see the old entrance door, guarded with arrow slits and blocked off by a trench or “pit.”

Pits were widely used defensive structures that served to counter enemy attacks. They were akin to a moat or deep ditch, which served as a trap and was outfitted with stakes and iron spikes.

Then, you enter a a natural cavity with 18 columns supporting the vault. They serve as the backdrop for the Fort’s exhibition of famous knights and priests.

There’s a series of weapons, including an old siege cannon called a bombarde.

This type of canon appeared during the Hundred Years War and were used until the end of the 15″ century.

It fired deadly stone or iron balls. But its inaccuracy and poor reload rate (6 to 10 rounds per hour) meant it was primarily used in siege warfare.

The cliffs of the fort are very popular with birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a Wallcreeper, a perching bird, hidden in a crevice. You can recognize it by its red and white wings, which gave it the nickname of “Butterfly Bird.”

You’ll end up back in the ticket office, where you’ll find a small shop and a museum with artifacts found at the site.

On the western side of the cliff you can also make out the Small Fort. It’s not accessible.

But, like the big fort, it was a defensive fortification in a carved recess on the cliff face.

seige cannon

Afterward, explore the picturesque little village below the fort.

It offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and a microclimate that supports an exotic garden filled with Mediterranean and tropical plants.

The main street by the river has plenty of shops and eateries as well.

Practical Information

Address: 24250 La Roque-Gageac

Hours: Usually open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Open at 9:15 am in July and August. Closes at 6:00 pm October through March.

Tickets: 7 euros, 6 euros for seniors and students


I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the Fort of the Middle Ages in La Roque- Gageac. You may enjoy these other travel articles on southern France.

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