Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

La Roque-Gageac, France

Thursday, July 11, 2013


France is filled with 
beautiful cities, towns, countrysides, and 

Take the tour,
hear a little of the history of this beautiful village,
and stay to hear about one of my all-time
favorite restaurants in all of France.

La Roque-Gageac
 is one of the 157 official 
l'un des PLUS BEAUX 

Nestled against and into a limestone cliff
along the Dordogne River
the village easily meets the French requirements
for a beautiful French village.
~ fewer than 2000 residents 
~ at least two noteworthy monuments and/or sites
 ~ request for the designation supported by the village's council

 Only 1 in 5 applicant villages in France receives the 
designation from the French board that oversees village applications.

High above the village, carved into the cliff is a
troglodyte cave from the 12th century.
Open to the public until 2010,
the site is now closed due to rockfalls.

Bishops of Sarlat summered in La Roque-Gageac, and the
castles in the town belonged to the bishops as late as the mid-15th century.
By mid-16th century, the remaining castles were privately held.
Currently, the only remaining Renaissance castle is
Manoir de Tarde.

Manoir de Tarde
The Manoir de Tarde was home of Jean Tarde (b. 1561),
probably La Roque-Gageac's most famous resident.
He is best known as a historian and astronomer
who was an honorary chaplain to Henry IV and
a friend of Galileo.

In the 19th century, les gabarres, flat-bottomed boats, 
carried goods along the Dordogne River. 
Today, tourists in replica gabarres enjoy river views 
of several medieval chateaux along the river. 

This is a wonderful relaxing one-hour trip 
moderated by delightful guides who bring the 
history of the region to life. 
We were there in September one year and, 
as seen in the photos, the weather was spectacular. 

Hotel and Restaurant La Belle Étoile
But what is it that fascinates me about La Roque-Gageac?
And brings me back whenever I am anywhere near?
Two things.
The stunning beauty of a small town on a river and
the Restaurant La Belle Étoile...

Where do I begin to describe this hidden treasure
in a village with only 450 residents?

The setting...
Oh, yes, the setting draws one in...
An outdoor second-floor terrace shaded by a grapevine arbor,
but wait, there is more...
overlooking the Dordogne River.

Enough right there for me to want to eat there everyday!

The menu...
Dinner requires reservations...or one doesn't get in.
It's that good.
Family chefs for almost a hundred years.
Chefs trained by the previous generation and
in great French cooking schools.

Prime rib soup as an appetizer...
Spinach stuffed trout served with lemon sauce...
Lemon cake with blueberry sauce...

No recipes...alas...
My sister and I have tried to replicate
the blueberry sauce for years.

The first time I was in La Roque-Gageac,
I was chaperoning high school students in the mid-1980s.
The tour company booked our dinner one night
at the Restaurant La Belle Étoile,
and the rest is history.
I wonder if any of those high school students 
realized what an incredible meal they ate? 
What a life-time event occurred?
When did I realize that a life-time event occurred?

The beautiful little village sitting at the base of the scarred limestone mountain
can be seen from a cliff in nearby Domme, France.

Whenever I am in France anywhere near
La Roque-Gageac,
I find a way to have a meal there
on the terrace shaded by a grapevine arbor
overlooking the Dordogne River.

Last time there, hot air balloons floated
over the countryside just at sunset...

Life does not get any better than that.
Fact Sources
Plus Beaux Villages de France
Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe 1911, pp. 149-151 by
 Sabine Baring Gould
This is the first post about France that I've called 
A Moment In France.
If you would like to see all my previous posts 
about France, click on the tab  
that is labeled 'Moment In France' 
at the top of the page.
Please join me at these inspiring sites...