About Château de Beynac
The 12th century Château de Beynac is a castle situated in the commune of Beynac-et-Cazenac, in the Dordogne département of France. The castle is one of the best-preserved and best known in the region. This Middle Ages construction, with its austere appearance, is perched on top of a limestone cliff and has dominated the town and the north bank of the Dordogne River for centuries.
Château de Beynac history
The castle was built in the 12th century by the barons of Beynac. The oldest part of the castle is a large, square-shaped, Romanesque keep with vertical sides and few openings, held together with attached watch towers and equipped with a narrow spiral staircase terminating on a crenellated terrace.
At the time of the Hundred Years’ War, the fortress at Beynac was in French hands. The Dordogne was the border between France and England. The region was the theatre of numerous struggles for influence, rivalries and occasionally battles between the English and French supporters.
However, the castles fell more often through ruse and intrigue rather than by direct assault, because the armies needed to take these castles were extremely costly: only the richest nobles and kings could build and maintain them.
Château de Beynac today
Today at Château de Beynac, the apartments have kept their woodwork and a painted ceiling from the 17th century. The Salle des États (States’ Hall) has a Renaissance sculptured fireplace and leads into a small oratory entirely covered with 15th century frescoes, included a Pietà, a Saint Christopher, and a Last Supper in which Saint Martial (first bishop of Limoges) is the maître d’hôtel.
To one side, a residence of the same period is attached; it was remodelled and enlarged in the 16th and 17th centuries. On the other side is a partly 14th century residence side-by-side with a courtyard and a square plan staircase serving the 17th century apartments.
Visitors to the castle can see sumptuous tapestries showing hunting and other scenes from the lives of the lords of the period.
Getting to Château de Beynac
Located just off the D703, Château de Beynac is an easy 2 and a half hour drive from Toulouse via the A20. There is parking at the top of the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, only a minute walk from the castle entrance. Otherwise you can park in the lower village and enjoy an uphill walk of around 20 minutes to Château de Beynac.