Chateau de Fenelon, Dordogne visitors guide
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The Chateau de Fenelon is an imposing castle in the heart of Perigord Noir, the region in the south-east of the Dordogne department, in Sainte-Modane and between Sarlat and Souillac.
Explore the Chateau de Fenelon
France This Way comment: Chateau de Fénelon is an attractive castle in an attractive location - among the most lovely in the Dordogne region. It is set on a raised rock platform near the village of Saint-Modane between Sarlat and Souillac in the eastern Dordogne region, and has far reaching views across the countryside.
The castle was orignally built here in the 13th century, on the site of an earlier castle (of which no trace remains), then substantially refurbished and modified during the 15th century by a local landowner. In the meantime, from 1360 to 1375, the castle had passed to the English and been regained by the French during the Hundred Years War.
Of course, as with all castles in France, the Chateau de Fenelon was no longer required for defensive purposes after the 15th century, so was converted to residential use. The terrace and galleried courtyard were added in the 18th century. By the time of the revolution it was being used as a factory for silkworms.
The castle is quite modest compared with some castles in the Dordogne, and has the appearance of a 'luxury manor house' rather than a medieval fortress from certain sides.
Built in the yellow stone typical of the Dordogne region, the castle has retained aspects of medieval defensive design in places while other sections are more Renaissance style: the towers are very medieval in appearance and the windows with stone surrounds are a renaissance additon to make the castle a more pleasant environment to live in, for example.
The chateau de Fenelon has two series of defensive walls, each with an entrance gate and space between them. These were designed so that if assailants managed to get through the first gate they had to turn left to reach the second gate, which was also slightly higher than the first.
The chateau has three towers with pretty turreted rooves, with tiles in lauze (stone) which is unusual and attractive. You can also see a grassed internal courtyard, and a couple of smaller buildings associated with the castle including a 13th century chapel and a courtyard-cloister. Because of he raised postion of the castle, the terraces have lovely views across the countrsde of the Dordogne.
Particularly noteworthy is the well that is carved 90 metres deep through the rock - an impressive achievement that dates from the Merovingian period, several centuries before the castle was built.
Inside Fenelon castle the rooms are furnished in period style and you can see collections of furniture, armour and weapons from the 15th to the 18th centuries as well as a curious collection of oddities such as a "giant's tooth" that will amuse the children.
Visiting Chateau de Fenelon
Note that Fenelon castle is not open to visitors from November to March, and is open afternoons only in October. The rest of the year it is open mornings and afternoons, and during July and August the castle does not close during the lunch break. It is always closed on Saturdays, and is also closed on Tuesdays outside July and August.
Admission costs around 10 euros and 6 euros for children.
Map of Chateau de Fenelon and places nearby
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Notre Dame des Cordeliers (Gourdon): religious monument (3 km)
- Gourdon: recommended detour (3 km)
- Domme: most beautiful village (12 km)
- Jardins du château de Caudon: remarkable garden (12 km)
- Abbaye Sainte Marie (Souillac): religious monument (12 km)
- Cathédrale Saint-Sardos (Sarlat): religious monument (12 km)
- Sarlat: town of art and history (12 km)
- Eglise notre-Dame de Nativité (Cenac-et-Saint-Julien): religious monument (13 km)
- La Roque-Gageac: most beautiful village (13 km)
- Jardins de Marqueyssac: remarkable garden (15 km)
- Jardins du Manoir d'Eyrignac: remarkable garden (15 km)
- Jardins de l'Albarède: remarkable garden (15 km)
The French version of this page is at Chateau de Fenelon (Francais)