The Fort du Roc de Tayac in Les Eyzies: "rebirth" visit of a site that is awakening

Les Eyzies de Tayac
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The Fort du Roc de Ta ...

It is on the banks of the Vézère , in the Prehistoric Capital of Les Eyzies , that we have an appointment for a guided tour ... That of the Fort du Roc de Tayac , a semi-troglodyte site embedded in the limestone cliff not far from the Granc Roc Cave . Thanks to the help of Marie Calonne , passionate guide and lecturer (fascinating!) And Jean-Max Touron, the owner of the site, you will witness in a privileged way the rebirth of a place that has welcomed humanity for 400,000 years . Marie offers tours in small groups (accessible to all, by reservation ), to immerse yourself in the past of this regional icon and its actors (like Gabriel Galou ), which was sometimes the refuge of the first fruits of humanity in Périgord, sometimes a medieval fortress , but also a hotel during the heyday of historical tourism at the beginning of the 20th century, and even a caving museum . On the way for 1h30 and more immersive visit , accompanied by period photos , told with emotion by Marie who brings the Fort back to life , with all her soul!

Photos of the article: © Guide du Périgord

Fort du Roc de Tayac Fort du Roc de Tayac
Follow Marie Calonne for a moving visit full of curiosities!

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The Fort du Roc de Tayac: A dormant site that wakes up thanks to us

You can hardly guess it, when you drive by car, at the exit of Les Eyzies on the D47 towards Périgueux . The Fort du Roc de Tayac is on the left, manifested by a staircase which climbs gently along the rock face , until a crevice which is extended by a string of scattered natural windows , opening onto higher rooms .

For more than 10 years, the site has been closed to the public. It's a sad sight for the locals, especially the older ones who remember being there in their youth. The walls still resonate with crazy evenings spent hanging out on the rock at the beginning of the last century… Positioned at a crossroads of strategic situations , the Fort du Roc de Tayac has been a place that has titillated humans since prehistoric times . Here, we are on the side of a cliff , the natural elements, the rain, the frost, the wind and the river over the millennia, have gradually hollowed out the soft rock , to form galleries , to create passages ... The river produces " Natural moats " which repel the enemies and from up there, we see the attacker arriving, we can also deter him with projectiles… It is a real semi-troglodyte site , like its cousin La Roque Saint-Christophe, a few kilometers higher and as there are many in the area. 500m wide, 50m high, here is the beast!

Click to read our report and see our video of the visit to La Roque Saint-Christophe, in Peyzac-le-Moustier!

The Fort du Roc de Tayac
Look up at the limestone giant
The Fort du Roc de Tayac The Fort du Roc de Tayac
A discreet staircase reveals the presence of the fittings that are flush with the rock

The site is owned by Jean-Max Touron , who describes himself as " a collector of cliffs ". It is a heritage lovers, the owner and keeper, and several fascinating sites in the area, some of which are open to visitors, such as La Roque-Saint-Christophe, the Strong House of Reignac, the Fort La Roque-Gageac , the Sorcerer's Grotto , the Roc de Cazelle … Marie gets in touch with Mr Touron and offers him to “ wake up the Fort ”, by organizing individual visits with clients. Touched by his interest and enthusiasm, which reminded him of his own fascination with the cliffs of our beautiful Périgord, he gave her the keys. Since then, Marie has been working to sweep, arrange and restore the facilities on the site, to welcome the public. It is with our help (as visitors) that she has given herself the ambitious and wonderful task of once again developing tourism at Fort du Roc de Tayac.

The Fort du Roc de Tayac
Natural windows, the promise of a beautiful view!
The Fort du Roc de Tayac
A magnificent panorama, which dominates this part of the Vézère Valley

A first medieval occupation

It was in the 12th century that the Fort du Roc de Tayac saw its strategic potential exploited, with the emergence of the village of Tayac just opposite, on the other side of the Vézère. The troglodyte fort is the place of levy of a tax for those who circulate on the river… The cliff is arranged, sometimes on 3 floors! There are people who live in this place ... Walking along the road , directly above the rock, we see the remains of the drip holes , where the roof ridge rests but also the boulen holes which are the support beams for the framework of buildings. Reading the stone is fascinating, with the lighting of Marie who knows how to decipher them and project us into the past.

While the visit continues in the Fort, we come across a well, the old coping of which was found buried in clay, thanks to Jean-Max Touron who had digging to reach the water table 6m lower. The first room has a dozen troughs , carved into the rock, 3 of which are in a good state of conservation. We continue the visit on the terrace where traces of old adobe floors are discovered in the vegetation behind a railing. We also see traces of old cupboards , which surely served as a safe or pantry, we find traces of a basin , which Marie brings back to life with her tools ... The covered way leads to the remains of a tower , with a view that leaves us speechless, on the landscape of the valley at 180 degrees! We understand why the Fort du Roc de Tayac was interesting to keep an eye on and lock this part of the river… Its position is so attractive that the English seized it and during the Hundred Years War, the Fort was the scene of fierce clashes! After the 15th century, we have little information (for the moment…) on the occupation of the place.

We start the visit along the road, to soak up the grandeur of the place, in front of the old house of a very special guest ...
The Fort du Roc de Tayac The Fort du Roc de Tayac
We then climb along the wall, to arrive in a first room, with troughs, a well and inscriptions left by Gabriel Galou
The Fort du Roc de Tayac
The first room and its staircase, vestiges of the time when the Fort was a museum dedicated to caving

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The Belle Epoque and the Bone Rush!

It is to Marie that we owe this very apt expression: at the end of the XIXth century in Périgord, it is the “ Rués ver l'os ”… In the region of Périgord Noir , which has no less than 145 deposits ( places where we carried out excavations and found prehistoric and historical artefacts) and 25 decorated caves (discovered to date!) there is a real craze on the part of students, professional or amateur historians , looters also… Les Eyzies becomes a pole of scientific tourism and everyone is armed with picks , chisels , to excavate , find, sell… Until we realize that this heritage is our past and that instead of selling it to the highest bidder, we can make it accessible to all and preserve it.

In 1895, Gabriel Galou , then a well digger, bought the Fort and settled there in an original and friendly manner . He is the inventor (that is to say the discoverer ) of the Gouffre de Proumeyssac in Audrix, he likes old stones and will invest the Fort from 1895 to 1912. He will first settle there with his family, then open a hotel and a restaurant in the fort: the Auberge du Paradis . Imagine: Wooden walkways suspended from cables walled into the rock (which we can still see!), Wooden ladders to go from one floor to another, tables, chairs, beds… He goes as far as '' to organize guinguette-style parties, where guests dance to music thanks to a paleophone and a gramophone .


In 1912, Gabriel Galou decided to build his personal house next to the Fort (Marie will show you where), but he died suddenly in 1916… The Fort was abandoned … The equipment in place deteriorated, the bridges collapsed and in 1932, the Ponts et Chaussés decided to dismantle it by sawing off the last dangerous elements, which threatened the road.

The Fort du Roc de Tayac
The upper terrace offers a breathtaking view
The Fort du Roc de Tayac Marie Calonne The Fort du Roc de Tayac
Follow the explanations of Marie, who will tell you about the past of the Fort, like a beautiful story. On the right, the remains of adobe soil
The Fort du Roc de Tayac Fort du Roc de Tayac
Take the walkway, like our ancestors.

The Fort du Roc de Tayac nowadays

In 1966, the Périgueux Caving Club set up a museum there, which gave new life to the Fort du Roc de Tayac, with new equipment to receive the public. Unfortunately, the site was the object of numerous looting and vandalism, which led to its closure in 2005. From this period, there are still balustrades and a spiral staircase. Today, thanks to Marie and the visitors, the Fort du Roc de Tayac will regain its splendor.

I recommend that you make an appointment with Marie , during your next visit to Périgord or if you live there, to take part in the Renaissance of this emblematic monument which has so many secrets to highlight. Marie has just found, thanks to her pugnacity and her curious mind, the tomb of Gabriel Galou , who has chosen to be forever close to this cliff he loved so much!

Fort du Roc de Tayac Fort du Roc de Tayac
We climb one more floor, with a stone staircase
For and Roc de Tayac Fort du Roc de Tayac
There are other floors, they are not accessible, maybe one day?
Fort du Roc de Tayac
It is with period photos that Marie transports us to this crazy adventure of the Auberge du Paradis at the beginning of the 20th century.
For and Roc de Tayac For and Roc de tayac
We were celebrating in costumes and music! Ahhhh the Belle Époque ...
We admire the view one last time before going back down


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Book a visit to the Fort du Roc de Tayac

While waiting for the electronic ticketing , which should see the light of day soon to facilitate the organization of Marie's schedule, book by email or phone. Departure is guaranteed from 4 people (invite your friends!). Groups are currently limited to 5 participants (excluding guide), according to prefecture regulations and within the framework of compliance with sanitary conditions.

Phone. 06 81 74 77 35
E-mail: perigordnoirdemarie (at) gmail.com
Fort du Roc de Tayac Facebook page
Check out Marie's website to see her other visits.



Did you like our report? Find others on the Guide du Périgord Blog . Join us on the Guide du Périgord Facebook page , we are also on Instagram @ GuideduPérigord.


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