The last time I drove through the village of La Roque-Gageac was in the late fall, when a huge crane was pulling gabares out of the river for the winter. Gabares are 50-seat sightseeing boats that ply the Dordogne for tourists, and it was quite something to see them being plucked out of the water and put onto trailers.
But there’s no more driving through La Roque — it’s been closed, at least for the winter.
It’s not as if the entire village has gone out of business. What has happened is that the single road that runs along the entire length of La Roque where it meets the Dordogne River has been closed, for construction. And that means absolutely no traffic can get through until the work is done, in March or April.
If you’ve ever been to the Dordogne, the département where Daglan is located, chances are good that you’ll know La Roque-Gageac. It’s been called (among other compliments) “truly the perfect picture postcard village.” And it’s listed by an association called Les Plus Beaux Villages de France as (you guessed it) “one of the most beautiful villages of France.” (There are now 157 such villages, in 69 départements, and quite a few are in the Greater Daglan Area.)
Here’s a view of the village, taken from the level of the river, and looking up at the village as it climbs an imposing limestone cliff:
For all its charm, and attraction to tourists, La Roque acts like a challenging bottleneck each summer, as cars, buses, trucks, and campers compete for space on the single narrow road — on which countless tourists are trying to walk without getting run over. (There are no sidewalks.)
And so, at a cost of more than 2 million euros, something is being done about the problem. At one end of the village is this sign, saying that the chantier or worksite is closed to the public:
As you can see in the photo above, behind the sign there are stacks and stacks of concrete pads. Just beyond them are stacks and stacks of iron railings or tracks, like these:
So what’s actually going on? The plan is to widen the road along its entire length through the village, and create a walkway for pedestrians so they can move easily — that is, without being run over — from store to hotel to restaurant to bakery. And so trucks and bulldozers have been creating a crushed-stone foundation out into the Dordogne. You can see it in this photo:
Based on the one drawing I’ve seen of the finished project, the walkway will be reasonably wide and quite attractive. But in the meantime, no vehicles can get through La Roque-Gageac, and pedestrians are being forced to go along a narrow walkway that’s been fenced off from the road. Here’s the sign directing pedestrians where to walk if they’d like to get to one of the shops in the village:
Of course, this is the right time of year for work like this. Many shops and restaurants are closed for the winter season anyway.
Just remember that if you’re thinking of driving from, say, Castelnaud to Cénac or Sarlat by going through La Roque-Gageac, you can’t.