Whole village of Saorge and remains of fortifications

The village of Saorge is spread out amphitheatrically on a steep slope closed to the north-northwest by a rocky ridge.

Period Before 1380

Accessibility No

Visitable Yes

The medieval village of Saorge was established on a site overlooking the Roya river, near the paths to Nervia and Liguria rivers to the east, and to Vésubie river to the west.

It was especially after joining Savoy in 1388 that Saorge developed, taking advantage of the commercial activity between Nice and Turin.

The primitive village occupied the top of the present village.

In 1465, a large fire destroyed many houses and the church. The village extended down and was equipped with a new enclosure. The lower wall still serves as a foundation for the row of houses downstream of the village.

In the late sixteenth century, the rocky ridge that bounded the village to the northwest was pierced to open a new more convenient door under the name of Incise.

In the seventeenth century, the village expanded a little outside the walls, but it was the time when part of the commercial activity moved to Fontan.

The alleys that follow roughly the contours meet in places, respecting the slopes that allowed the packaged mules to circulate. Public stairs, often under houses, create shortcuts for pedestrians between alleys.

The spectacular appearance of the village, which unfolds in an amphitheater, has often compared it to a “Tibetan” village.

Conditions of visit

The medieval inside of the village of Saorge is not car accessible. The large north car park is accessible by road RD 38 road from RD 6204 road in Fontan. A small car park at the south, quickly saturated, is accessible by RD 138 road, starting from RD 6204 road, south of the village of Saorge.
The access to the heart of the medieval village is reserved to valid persons, because of the alleys with steep slopes and numerous steps to cross.
Part of the village is accessible to everyone from the turnaround area south of the village.
Permanently open to the public. Generally private buildings.


Additional information


  • Botton Charles et Gaber Jean, Histoire de Saorge et Fontan, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya, 2009.
  • Bourrier Michel, La prise de Saorge, le Haut pays n° 28, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya, 1994.
  • Cachiardi de Montfleury Philippe, Bonaparte à Breil et la prise de Saorge, Nice Historique, Nice, 1969.
  • Gaziello François, Histoire de Saorge, Imprimerie Peirotti, Nice, 1977.