Bonaguil Castle | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Bonaguil Castle

Couthures-sur-Garonne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Lucy Davidson

11 Jun 2021

About Bonaguil Castle

Château de Bonaguil is a castle in the French commune of Saint-Front-sur-Lémance. A marvel of medieval architecture, the castle is one of the last – and most beautiful – fortified castles built in France during the Middle Ages.

History of Bonaguil Castle

The first castle on the site was built in the 13th century by the knight Arnaud de la Tour of Fumel, who later became Lord of Bonaguil.

The castle was heavily involved in the Hundred Years War. The Lords of Bonaguil sided with the English, and Bonaguil Castle was subsequently taken and retaken by both sides until it was eventually burned and abandoned.

The castle was entirely restructured at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries by Bérenger de Roquefeuil, who added all of the innovative defensive improvements of the end of the Middle Ages.

A stone keep built on top of a rocky spur that bordered several French provinces, the castle was considered a marvel of military architecture because of its incorporation of the latest development in defensive protection against artillery. Indeed, the name derives from ‘bonne aiguille’ (good needle) and refers to the defensive site: a steep, rocky promontory perfectly suited as the site of a castle.

This fortification project took 40 years to complete, with the majority of the building work comprising of 13 tall towers and 400 metres of defensive perimeter. All in all, it covered 7500 metres squared. The irony of all of this work being undertaken is that the castle was never attacked.

By the middle of the 17th century, the castle had fallen into disrepair. In the 18th century, it was bought by Margaret de Fumel, who restored the castle and even added some new apartments outside the inner wall. She stayed there regularly until her death in 1788.

During the French Revolution, the castle was plundered, and some parts were damaged or destroyed. In 1892, it was purchased by the town who were able to have it classified as a ‘Monument Historique’. Restoration works were carried out many times, with the latter taking place in 1985.

Bonaguil Castle Today

Today, Bonaguil Castle is the epitome of a fortified castle. Guided tours are available, and for an extra magical touch, during the summer nocturnal tours are available, with spectacular lighting and sound effects which give the visit extra gravitas.

Getting to Bonaguil Castle

Bonaguil Castle is situated between Périgord and Quercy in the village Saint-Front-sur-Lémance near Fumel. From the centre of Fumel, the castle is a 10 minute drive via D673 and D158 roads. It’s a short a scenic 30 minute cycle to reach the site, too, or an hour and a half walk.

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