Château Beynac

Built 150 metres above the Dordogne river this 800 year old fortress has deterred the English, the weather, but, not the tourists.

Information

  • Address: Route du château, 24220 Beynac-et-Cazenac
  • Telephone: +33 (0)5 53 29 50 40
  • Map Grid: B3
  • Tariffs: Adults: €8. Ages 12 - 16: €6. Ages 5 - 11: €4.
  • Open: All Year
  • Opening Times: 10am - 6.30pm
  • Reservation Recommended.
  • English Guides and Guided Tours Available.

Map

Disclaimer

The information is correct at time of writing, but may be subject to change. Prices are only meant as a guide and may not be current.

Description

The site of Beynac and its castle is undoubtedly one of the finest in France. The village where Paul Eluard was born is built in stages above the water's edge, at the bottom of a 150 metre cliff, topped by an impressive fort. This eagle's nest might seem rather austere if it were not for the sun lighting up its golden walls, mirrored by the Dordogne. With its changing colors and the luminosity of the stone, the sky and the water, Beynac is a paradise for painters and photographers in all seasons.

Following the Organization of the county of Périgord. it became the seat of one of the four baronies along with Biron. Bourdeilles and Mareuil. The first unquestionable trace of a seigneur of Beynac dates back to 1115. The castle was so powerful and its barons so cruel that local vassals and peasants named it "Satan's ark".

In 1214, on return from a crusade against the Albigensians. Simon de Montfort took possession of Beynac. whose seigneur was a friend of Raymond de Toulouse, and razed its defenses. The Hundred Years War found Beynac in the French camp. In 1360, the Bretigny treaty transferred it by right to English rule but eight years later it returned to the fore of the fighting on the side of Charles V. The English were never able to capture the citadel. In 1370, the sole heiress of the fief, a three year old girl is promised in marriage to her uncle, Pons de Commarque who drove the English out of the Sarlat region and became the most powerful seigneur in Périgord.

The castle was totally protected by the sheer drop on the side facing the river and its northern defenses were reinforced around 1598. A double surrounding wall, two rows of moats and two barbicans were built. From the top of the tower there is a breathtaking view over the whole of the valley and the surrounding Châteaux of Castelnaud, Fayrac, and Marqueyssac. On the edge of the cliff is the stone-roofed Romanesque castle chapel, the location of the famous scene from the 1978 version of "Les Miserable". Part of the 2000 film Chocolat was also filmed here.

The castle was bought in 1962 by Lucien Grosso who has restored it. Visitors to the castle can see sumptuous tapestries showing hunting and other scenes from the lives of the lords of the period. The tour guidebook is available for free at the entrance of the Château de Beynac or can be downloaded from their website.