©Amoros fabrice


Former power headquarters

On the winding road past Estéyère, which marks the foot of the Izoard Pass, a fortress stands out in the distance: Fort Queyras! High round towers, cascading walls clinging to the rock, your eyes are firmly fixed on it. Centuries of history await you in this medieval castle that became “fort” by Vauban. From half-moons to bastions, from poudrières to keeps, immerse yourself in the history of the Queyras, Escartons and Dauphiné.

From Château Queyras to Fort Queyras

a mountain fortification prototype

Chateau Queyras overlooks the Guil, which rumbles or babbles in the gorge depending on the day. A perched citadel, it can only be entered after crossing four drawbridges. In front of you, thick walls dominated by horizontal lines, gunboats, watchtowers and sharp angles: this is Vauban’s work, the master of bastioned fortification commissioned in 1692 by Louis XIV to fortify the medieval castle. To the right, tall dungeons and round towers tell the story of the Middle Ages. This is Fort Queyras: a harmonious combination of 13th-century castles and Vauban fortresses. Enhanced over the centuries by a “poudrière” (powderkeg), casemated batteries and barracks, the vast fort is an overlooking belvedere on the Guil valley.

Eight centuries of Alpine history

In the first half of the 13th century, the Dauphin, ruler of the Dauphiné, had the Château de Queyras built as the heaquarters of his power in the valley. Within these walls, he imagined the châtelain, an official who raised taxes, imprisoned criminals and commanded soldiers. After the Dauphiné was ceded to France, the citadel retained its military function. The castle surrendered to the enemy only once. In 1587, during the Religion Wars, it was taken by Lesdiguières, leader of the Dauphiné Protestants. When the Duke of Savoy invaded the region in 1692, Louis XIV ordered Vauban to build a modern fort with bastions, moats and a half-moons. Equipped with new defenses in the following centuries, the fort was home to alpine hunters, who encouraged the beginnings of skiing in the Queyras. In 1940, they defeated the Italian enemy above Abriès. Disarmed, Fort Queyras was sold to its first private owner in 1955, who restored it and opened it to visitors.

The two lookouts of Roue Lake

For a great view, it takes 10/15 minutes to reach the 2 belvederes located near the lake, which offer superb panoramic views over the Guil valley and the Combe du Queyras:

  • on the left, Chateau Queyras and the Bucher Summit 
  • on the right, the Villargaudin village 
A glacial lock

Fort Queyras is perched on a glacial lock. Millions of years ago, a glacier carved out the Guil valley. At this point, where the valley is very narrow, it encountered a very hard, dense rock, which it had to step over because it could not break it. By hollowing out the surrounding valley, the glacier turned the rock into a veritable dam, “locking” the valley.

What do we do there?

If you’re a history buff, you’ll need to take your time: the fort is vast and includes several exhibitions. On a self-guided tour, follow the explanatory panels at your own pace. For children, there’s a dedicated trail and a few … torture machines! Another option? Take a guided tour with a historian. Book my visit

  • To invigorate yourself or to test your lung capacities, race from the Governor’s Garden down to the 3rd floor of the dungeon.
  • It’s time to dream! In the “aula”, the once richly furnished reception room, imagine Dauphin Jean staying here in 1310. Finally, back down on the south terrace, think of Lesdiguières’ artillerymen and cannons pounding the château from the left bank of the Guil.

Did you know?

The movie “Le Bossu”, starring Daniel Auteuil and Fabrice Luchini, was shot by Philippe de Broca in 1997.

Two readings

All you need to know about Fort Queyras

Fort Queyras, 700 years of historyNicolas CRUNCHANT

Editions du Queyras: Saint-Véran, 2008.

Fort QueyrasAndré and Odette GOLAZ

Société d’Etudes des Hautes-Alpes: Gap, 1971.


How do I get there?

  • To get there, park at the foot of the castle, in the parking lot along the road at the west entrance of the village.
  • Then take the footpath that starts at the small rotunda.

Opening times and prices