Crest, Rhone-Alpes: tourism & sightseeing
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Crest is located south-east of Valence, on the edge of the foothills of the Alps and at the entrance to the Natural Regional Park of Vercors. The Drome River passes through the town.
As you approach Crest, from far away you will see the 'trademark' monument of the town - the Crest Tower. Dating from the 11th century, the tower was once part of a castle and is the highest medieval keep still standing in France (with a height of a little over 50 metres). The rest of the castle was destroyed under the orders of Louis XIII in the 17th century.
At this time the tower became a prison. At the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes a lot of Protestants were imprisoned in the tower. In the 18th century priests, soldiers and public servants were locked away. After the "coup d'etat of Napoleon III" over 400 peasants were locked up. The walls of the tower bear witness to the despair and suffering of those who were incarcerated here.
Now the tower can be visited and the best views of the surrounding region are from the terraces around Crest Tower - there is a sign here to show you what you are looking at in the distance.
The Porte Montsegur, near the tower, is another remnant from the original fortifications in Crest.
In the streets below the tower Crest has an attractive historical centre and old town with medieval buildings lining the narrow streets.
Some of the highlights include the Cordeliers Chapel, built in the 17th century; the Church of Saint-Sauveur, built in neo-classical style in the 20th century ; and the lavoirs. It is the long stone staircase of the Cordeliers that will perhaps stay in your memory the longest after your visit! This has 124 steps, 95 of which are carved into the hillside.
Take a look at the house called the "Tour du Pin Montauban" which belonged to the governor of Crest from the 18th to the 19th century and is also called the "maison des têtes" because of the seven heads on its facade - each representing one of the seven deadly sins.
On the Rue Des Cuiretteries you can see some examples of Renaissance architecture such as the Maison Labretonnière.
On the edge of town on the other side of the river Drome is the Chappelle St Ferreol.
Spend some time exploring along the banks of the Drome River - very pretty as it passes through Crest, then if you are feeling adventurous be sure to try the local speciality - called défarde and made from lamb's feet and tripe.
A small museum explains the history of the tower and Crest town.
Note: The bridge to reach the Saint-Ferreol Chapel is said to be the longest wooden bridge in France.
Note 2: The town name is pronounced WITHOUT the 'st' on the end!
Market day in Crest is on a Saturday morning.
There are several pretty villages in the Drome countryside to discover near Crest, many very small but most with their own unique character and appeal. There are also ample opportunities to enjoy the local scenery - on foot, bike or by car.
Photos of Crest
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Map of Crest and places to visit
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Crest is classified as a recommended detour town (plus beau detour)
Address: Crest, Die, Drome, Rhone-Alpes, 26400, France || GPS: latitude 44.7292, longitude 5.02278
Plan your visit to Crest, Rhone-Alpes
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Mirmande: most beautiful village (15km)
- Abbatiale Sainte-Marie (Cruas): religious monument (22km)
- Montelier: ville fleurie 4* (23km)
- Cathédrale Saint-Apollinaire (Valence): religious monument (25km)
- Parc Jouvet: remarkable garden (25km)
- Valence: town of art and history (25km)
- Abbaye d'Aiguebelle (Montjoyer): religious monument (31km)
- Viviers: secteur sauvegarde (38km)
Market days in Crest, France
Regular market(s) are held in Crest each Tuesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Crest (Francais)