Crest and its tower

Crest,  medieval city

The medieval city of Crest, dominated by the donjon, was built on a hill slope caracterised by the rocky ridge which is at the origin of the name of the city of Crest. Crest, town of festivals, cultural and sportive, situated at the heart of the Drôme Valley ; the town is one of the gateways to the Vercors and its Regional Natural Parc. Through its winding alleys and calades, you will discover the rich and turbulent history of the city. We don’t know exactly the period of its origin; but one of the first known mentions of Crest was in 1120 in a letter written by the pape Calixte II who visited Crest, named at this time as Crista Arnaudorum, which means “la crête des Arnaud”. The Lord of Arnaud would have built the town near the end of the X century and was at the origin of the first stronghold on the rocky ridge.

 Crest is a valued and a much sought after land because of its strategic geographical situation : it started with the Episcopal war lasting almost 150 years between the Bishop of Die, the Aymars of Poitier and the counts of Valentinois ; the counts were the victors in 1356 and reunited the fortress.


In the XVI century, Crest was at the centre of religious wars ; as a catholic territory, the city was coveted by the protestants, and as a result its fortress was dismantled by Louis XIII saving only the donjon. At the XIX century, the coup d'Etat of Napoléon III marked the history of the town, the tour played a crucial role as a prison at this time because 400 peasant agitators were locked inside. In between the phases of conflict, the city of Crest has known periods of great prosperity with the development of the fabric industries, cotton, wool and silk. To this day we can still see the architectural remains from the XVII and XIX centuries. The actual names of alleys, street, and ports of the town centre remind us of the rich artisanal and industrial past of the town of Crest.

La tour de crest

There is about 900 years of history to discover in this donjon with its reputation as one of the most beautiful examples of medieval architecture and the highest donjon of France (52 metres) Centrepiece of the fortification of the whole site, the Tour de Crest is a perfect illustration of this architectural system of defence with impressive dimensions : 32 meters long on 20 meters of width today one can still see the strategies used against the enemies. Known for its strength as an impregnable medieval fortress, sadly, since the beginning of the XVII she has been a place of repression up to the XIX century and the coup d'Etat of Napoléon III. Of this historical heritage, the Tour de Crest still bears the signs: hundreds of graffiti cover the walls, which remain a testimony of the pain or hope of the prisoners that were kept there. In 1877, the donjon was  classified as a historical monument and belonged to Maurice Chabrières until 1988 when the town of Crest bought the tower.

And today?

The tower gives visitors a magnificent historical journey: its 15 rooms allow one to discover the place of Crest in the surrounding conflicts from life in the middle ages and after.

From the top of its 52 meters, you will be able to admire the exeptional panoramic view of the Drôme Valley, from the cliffs of the Vercors to the peaks of the Ardeche. For thrill seekers one can abseil down the face of the tower ( by rendez vous) !


La Tour de Crest : accueil : 04 75 25 32 53 / Régie : 04 75 76 61 14 -