Visit Castelnou (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Castelnou is a lovely little village, in a beautiful setting of rolling hills in the eastern Pyrenees. The village, sitting in the shadow of the castle that towers above, and also that of the famous Mount Canigou, dates from the 10th century
Before entering the village take a look at the lovely church that sits just outside of the main village. The church has quite a Spanish feel to it with its ornate bell-tower. It also has a magnificent door covered with iron scrolls, and a sundial. The church, the Eglise Santa Marie del Mercadel, was built in the 12th century when the population of the village had grown to such an extent that the chapel in the castle was no longer big enough. It is very simple in style and quite charming.
Next to the church is an area of wooden stalls which is used for markets in the summer on Tuesdays from 10am to 19pm. It is also possible to take a donkey ride from here!
The village is entered through a large stone arch / gate, dating from the 14th century, and is part of the fortifications that were at that time erected around the village. The narrow cobbled streets in the village are impossible to walk along without having a sense of the thousands who have already passed the same way - a real step back in time. The streets lead upwards towards the castle and as you walk along there are lots of charming stone houses to admire.
Note that one of the houses has a huge bulge in the stonework on the first floor. This is the bread oven and whilst I have not noticed bread ovens built in this way - sticking out of the first floors of houses - anywhere else in France they are quite common in this area. Certainly in the Dordogne area bread oven's were often purpose built communal ovens whose use often involved a charge to the 'seigneur'.
The castle itself, high on a rock above the village, dates in part from the 10th century although the original building was largely destroyed in the 16th century. Renovated at the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was then again destroyed, this time by a fire. In recent years it has been again restored. It is possible to visit the castle and see what life was like in the middle ages. There is also a permanent exhibition of patchworks. Take a stroll around the Mediterranean gardens of the castle and enjoy the fine views from here.
On a hillside near the chateau there is a lookout tower called the Tour de Castelnou. This tower, which dates from the 8th century, served as both a lookout tower and as part of the town's defences.
The slopes around the castle are planted with grape vines and you can taste and buy the local wine in the cellars of the chateau.
Like other villages among the 'most beautiful villages of France' Castelnou has attracted an array of artists and artisans. Happily there is still little to spoil the feeling that you have entered another time and place.
Places to Visit Nearby
The monastery at Passa has a lovely cloister
Visit the Wine cellars of Byrrh (Caves de Byrrh) to see the local wine produced and then have a chance to taste and buy the wine.
Photos of Castelnou
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Castelnou
Castelnou is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Castelnou, Thuir, Perpignan, Pyrenees-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, 66300 || GPS: latitude 42.619, longitude 2.7033
Map of Castelnou & places nearby
Highlights close by
Ille sur Tet 9km
Arles sur Tech 19km
See lots more places to visit nearby and a more detailed map at places near Castelnou.
See Languedoc-Roussillon and Pyrenees-Orientales (the region and department for Castelnou) for more travel ideas...
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Castelnou, France
- Orgued d'Ille-sur-Tet - site of natural beauty (9km)
- Chapelle de Casenoves (Ille-sur-tet) - religious monument (9km)
- Eglise de Trinité d'Aregno (Aregno) - religious monument (9km)
- Prieuré de Serrabone (Boule-d'Amont) - religious monument (10km)
- Chapel Saint-Martin de Fenollar (Maureillas-las-Illas) - religious monument (16km)
- Eglise de Sainte Marie de Marcevol (Arboussols) - religious monument (17km)
- Perpignan - town of art and history (18km)
- Eglise de Saint Michel (Saint-Genis-des-fontaines) - religious monument (20km)
- Eus - most beautiful village (20km)
- Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges (Cabestany) - religious monument (21km)
The French version of this page is at Castelnou (Francais)