About Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle
The Château de Castelnaud is a medieval fortress in the commune of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, overlooking the Dordogne River in Périgord, southern France. Erected to face its rival, the Château de Beynac, the oldest documents mentioning it date to the 13th century when it figured in the Albigensian Crusade.
Since 1966, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle has been listed as a Historic Building. Today, it houses the Museum of Medieval Warfare, open to the public every day from 10am.
Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle history
Owned by the Cathar castellan, Bernard de Casnac, at the start of the 13th century, Simon de Montfort took the castle in 1214 during the Albigensian Crusade against the unorthodox Christianity of the Cathars. Simon installed a garrison at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, including the keep and curtain wall. When the castle was retaken by Bernard, he hanged them all.
During the Hundred Years’ War, the castellans of Castelnaud owed their allegiance to the English Plantagenets, the sieurs de Beynac across the river, and the king of France. Following a siege ordered by French king Charles VII in 1442, the French army won the castle permanently, returning the castle to the Caumont family who have kept it since 1368.
The Caumonts reinforced the castle defences, particualrly the lower wall and barbican equipped by canons. In the 15th century, new living spaces were installed to improve the comfort of the medieval fortress, although the Caumonts left for their new castle in Les Milandes.
In later times it was abandoned bit by bit, until by the French Revolution it was a ruin and only served as a stone quarry.
Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle today
Today, the picturesquely restored castle, a private property open to the public for a standard charge of 10,90€, houses a much-visited museum of medieval warfare, featuring over 250 weapons, including reconstructions of siege engines, mangonneaux, and trebuchets.
Guided tours around the castle during summer are themed around attacking and defending a fort, although be aware they are in French. Throughout July and August you can also see a demonstration of the trebuchet being fired.
Getting to Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle
Located just out of Tournepique along the Dordogne river, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle is reached via the D57 road from Brive-la-Gaillarde, or the A89 from Bordeaux.