Chateau de Beynac, Dordogne visitors guide
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Chateau de Beynac sits high above the Dordogne river, in the village of Beynac. One of the most impressive castles in the Dordogne region, a simple glance at the clifftop position is sufficient to understand the naturally defensive position occupied by the castle.
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France This Way comment: the Chateau de Beynac is one of the most impressive castles in the Dordogne region of France - both for the well-preserved castle itself and for the stunning location it holds on top of a cliff with views across the surrounding countryside, the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, and the Dordogne river.
History of Chateau de Beynac
Although the position was occupied even earlier, the castle we see today dates from the 12th century and is a very good example of medieval military architecture. Naturally defended by the cliffs to the south, the other sides of the castle are defended by double ramparts and a deep moat.
In the 12th century, ownership of the castle passed briefly to Richard the Lionheart when the owner died without a natural heir, but the transition was shortlived since Richard the Lionheart also died soon after, as did Mercadier, his companion who was entrusted with the castle and the castle returned to the Beynacs.
As part of its long and eventful history, Chateau de Beynac played an important role in the Hundred Years War at which time it was in French owned territory but on the border with Aquitaine, at that time owned by the English - the Chateau de Castelnaud that you can see the other side of the river was an 'English' castle at this time. Inevitably this closeness to the border led to a large number of skirmishes during the period.
As the years passed and Beynac changed owners it slowly fell into decline and disrepair. It was only after 1961 that significant efforts were made to renovate this important chateau, by the incredible efforts of its current proprietor - efforts that continue to the present. The castle is now a very impressive tourist attraction, and a fascinating testament to the history of the Dordogne region.
Visiting the Chateau de Beynac
Chateau de Beynac is a fascinating castle to visit and explore. You can see the large 12th century keep and living accommodation, a further large building when the castle was expanded in the 14th century, several terraces and yet more rooms added during the 17th century.
You will also see several of the ancient rooms - dungeons, kitchens, living quarters etc - in the Chateau de Beynac, as well as the various open courtyards. One of the rooms contains some interesting medieval frescoes and several have been furnished in a style appropriate to the period. Overall the renovations and furnishings in the castle have been carried out to an exceptionally high standard.
Another of the highlights of a visit is, not surprisingly, the views across the miles of surrounding Dordogne countryside from within the castle. Remember to look across to the other side of the river to see the equally impressive castle at Chateau Castelnaud.
Chateau de Beynac is open all year round. The castle is best reached by parking at the bottom of the village and following the stiff 15 minute walk up through the village, although there is also parking at the top of the hill near the castle itself. In any event you will certainly want to visit Beynac village while you are here!
Note: it is when canoeing down the river that you have one of the most impressive view of Chateau de Beynac, sitting high on a rocky outcrop above the houses in the village, as well as many of the villages along the rivern and we highly recommend it!
See more Dordogne castles.
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Beynac: most beautiful village
- Jardins de Marqueyssac: remarkable garden (2 km)
- La Roque-Gageac: most beautiful village (3 km)
- Jardins de l'Albarède: remarkable garden (6 km)
- Eglise notre-Dame de Nativité (Cenac-et-Saint-Julien): religious monument (7 km)
- Jardins du château de Caudon: remarkable garden (7 km)
- Domme: most beautiful village (7 km)
- Cathédrale Saint-Sardos (Sarlat): religious monument (8 km)
- Sarlat: town of art and history (8 km)
- Jardin de Conty: remarkable garden (8 km)
- Belves: most beautiful village (13 km)
- Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption (Belves): religious monument (13 km)
The French version of this page is at Chateau de Beynac (Francais)