Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux, Lot visitors guide

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The chateau de Castelnau-Prudhomat is in Prudhomat, a small village in the north of the Lot department of south-west France between Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and Saint-Céré. It is in the historic region known as Quercy.

Explore the Chateau of Castelnau-Bretenoux

France This Way comment: Castelnau castle stands in an enviable hilltop location on a rocky plateau with lovely views across the rolling countryside in all directions, and is one of the most impressive sites in the region.

The original house on this site was first fortified around 1100 by its owner, Hugues de Castelnau.

The Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux seen from the village

History of Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux

From the middle of the 12th century the castle fell into English hands under King Henry II (as did much of south-west France) only returning to France following the end of the Hundred Years War. It was once again in the hands of the original owners - the barons of Castelnau.

The tower called the Tour de l'auditore is the oldest part of the castle, built in the 11th century, and the castle keep next to it was added in the 12th century. The remainder of the castle was largely built in the 14th century. Further defenses were added during the 15th centuries to cope with advances in weapons.

Further defensive modifications were made in the 16th century but by the 17th century all defensive requrements had passed and the castle was converted into a more 'habitable' building with the addition of windows to the walls and the conversion of parts of the inside of the castle to halls and bedrooms.

As a result, the castle we see today has elements that span a wide period, from the 12th century to the 17th century.

During the early 18th century the last of the line of barons of Castelnau died without an heir, and for 170 years the castle fell into disrepair, a situation significantly worsened by a substantial fire in the middle of the 19th century that destroyed manuy of the 17th century modifications.

At the end of the 19th century Jean Moulièrat, an opera singer from Paris, bought the castle, renovated it and and decorated the rooms in the medieval style. Chateau Castelnau-Bretenoux is now a National Monument that belongs to the state.

Visiting the chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux

It is a substantial well-proportioned castle that dominates the landscape in all directions, with the castle surrounded by three walls that form a triangle with sides around 80 metres long. Significant parts of the castle are built in red stone, which gives it a unique appearance, and the buildings are all around a central courtyard.

There are large round towers at two of the corners, and the house and a smaller tower in the third corner of the triangle. There are further supplementary defences outside the main walls.

Inside the Chateau de Castelnau you can visit several imposing rooms that have been furnished in the medieval style, and collections of paintings, art and tapestries, and you can also climb to the top of the donjon to enjoy the lovely views.

Entrance to the castle costs around 8 euros (there is also a charge for parking).

View across the fields to Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux

Attractions nearby

There are numerous places of interest in this region, including villages such as LoubressacRocamadour and Collonges-la-Rouge, the cave system at Gouffre de Padirac, and the towns of Saint-Cere and Martel. Indeed this is one of our favourite areas of France for enjoying beautiful countryside and historic towns and villages.

See more castles in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Lot guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also:

Map of Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux and places nearby

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The French version of this page is at Chateau de Castelnau-Bretenoux (Francais)