Visit of the Château de Beynac

Beynac et Cazenac
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The Château de Beynac is located in Périgord Noir, in the eponymous village of Beynac-et-Cazenac. Installed on an impressive rocky outcrop in the Dordogne Valley, its keep culminates at 150m above the Espérance River and this strategic location has earned it a rich history! Its defensive architecture typical of the Middle Ages has inspired many films (The Visitors 2, Joan of Arc, the Daughter of d'Artagnan, the Last Duel, etc.) shot within its walls. Immerse yourself in this military, civil and religious icon, this representative of feudalism who for 9 centuries has watched over the Valley of the 5 castles with wisdom and charisma! Open all year, you have to take advantage of it!

Photos and video © Guide du Périgord



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A castle in the Dordogne Valley, strategically positioned

The Château de Beynac was only a small wooden keep, when in the 12th century, it was transformed into a high fortified stone tower. This first dungeon, which marks the beginning of one of the most beautiful medieval fortresses in France, is intended for observation (to anticipate the arrival of the enemy) but also for refuge. No stairs to go up there, you have to take a ladder (a spiral staircase will be added later)! Installed on a rocky promontory that juts out like the bow of a boat towards the valley, it is an ideal location to block traffic on all waterways and the passage of convoys of goods. It is one of the sources of wealth of the Lord, who levies a tax, a right of way. The power of Beynac also comes from the abundance of food resources, the river offers water of course, but also fish and a large Seigneurial fishery is installed in the Dordogne, providing an abundance of food including salmon.


Castle of Beynac
Château de Beynac from the other bank of the Dordogne
Beynac Castle
A fortress firmly planted on the rock, which rises 152m above the Dordogne

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Visit the castle, a real journey through time from room to room

The construction of the Château de Beynac was spread over several centuries, during which elements were added, modified, improved to give it the face it presents to us today. To visit the Château is to navigate through time! After appreciating the view from the terrace on the forecourt of the castle, one enters the Salle des Gardes, the first extension made to the primitive keep. Its wide door, its rustic floor, its scale, suggests that one entered it on horseback, the Lord could enter without dismounting! Austere with few openings, it is a room with a military vocation, but also the lower room of the Logis Seigneurial.


Entrance to the Château de Beynac

The entrance to the Château de Beynac

Terrace with a view
Terrace with a view of the Dordogne Valley above the castle
Beynac Castle Guard room Château de Beynac
The Guard Room


The Château, due to its beauty, its power and its exceptional location, was the fruit of many desires and crossed paths with illustrious characters : Richard Coeur de Lion, then King of England and Duke of Aquitaine, offered the Château de Beynac who was left without an heir in 1194, to a trusted person in his entourage, Mercadier. Then in 1214, Simon de Montfort seized it (at the same time, he took the Château de Montfort, read our article on the Château de Montfort Hike on this subject). Each time, the castle then returns to an heir of the Beynac family. During the Hundred Years War (from 1337 to 1453), the Beynac family supported the crown of France, while the Château de Castelnaud opposite was under the English standard. It is the Dordogne which marks the natural border between these two camps. We can imagine the atmosphere at the time, everyone staring at each other on a bank... And yet it was not until the 19th century that a bridge near the village made it possible to cross the Dordogne.

In the 13 th century is the spur of the building that is added to the Chateau de Beynac, with a home in the twin bays wider decorated, allowing more light. The kitchen and the Tower of the Oratory also date from this period.


Castle of Beynac building of the spur

Château de Beynac leperon room Beynac Castle
The building of the spur and its latrines which amuse a certain young public!


The terrace of the spur is where the castle is in communion with the Valley. This is the highlight of the show, one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Périgord.


Beynac castle view View of the Dordogne
View of the Dordogne downstream from the Château

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The splendid Salle des Etats with its vaulted ceiling (after the initial construction of the room) dates from the 15th century and was a meeting place for the great Lords of Périgord at the time. Indeed, it is the 4 barons of Périgord who hold great power, with the barony of Bourdeilles, Biron, Beynac and Mareuil.


The Hall of States

The Hall of States The Dungeon Castle of Beynac
The Salle des Etats and the Dungeon, with its small openings


Read our article on the village of Bourdeilles, in Périgord Vert, and on the Château de Biron on the border with Lot-et-Garonne.


In the 17th century, gaining comfort and promotes a more pleasant architecture and ceremonial, you will notice the beautiful staircase Renaissance Florentine type, but also many decorated chimneys.


The terrace
The view from the terrace at the zenith of the castle
The Renaissance staircase and the inner courtyard

In the 19th century, it is strangely a barbican which is added to the castle (you will see it at the exit, it is no longer representative of the needs of the time and its vocation is rather figurative ), an advanced military fortification which is intended to dismiss the enemy at the gates of the castle. This century is also that of the emergence of the gabarriers , who transport on their flat-bottomed boats (the gabarres), wood, wine, nuts, barrels, coming from Auvergne upstream and from Périgord towards the Gironde (Bordeaux in particular). Beynac is therefore perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the strategic control of these flows… And make a financial profit !


Read our article on the Caminades barges in La Roque Gageac and off you go for a nice walk on the waves!


Castle of Beynac barbican

Visit Beynac at the same time as its castle, organize its discovery

Beynac-et-Cazenac is one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, visiting the Château de Beynac is also an opportunity to explore the village and enjoy its attractions. Park your vehicle in one of the car parks at the bottom of the village (paying in season, count 20 minutes to reach the Castle) or climb to the one at the very top of the village at the foot of the castle (complicated in season…). The village is built on a rocky escarpment, wrapped around its castle, with steep and charming streets, offering 360-degree panoramas, each one more grandiose than the other. We come to visit the castle and the village as much for the architecture, the history as for its picturesque and unique points of view. We also come to enjoy the craftsmen, the pretty shops, the restaurants... In season, it's a very busy and happy place, before and after the season (spring, autumn) it's the best time to enjoy it... Chuuuutttt!


View from Calvary
View from Calvary


We recommend that you go and discover the magnificent viewpoint of Beynac which is located in the extension of the place du château, along the cemetery. From there, we admire the castle and the Valley that unfold at our feet. The Valley of the 5 Châteaux is so named because there are the Châteaux de Beynac, Le Château des Milandes, Feyrac, Castelnaud and Lacoste.



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