Château de Beynac perched atop a limestone cliff above the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, on the banks of the Dordogne River.
Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine

©Andrew Montgomery/Lonely Planet

Château de Beynac

Top choice in The Dordogne

Towering gloriously atop a limestone bluff, this 12th-century fortress’ panoramic position above the Dordogne made it a key defensive position during the Hundred Years War. Apart from a brief interlude under Richard the Lionheart, Beynac remained fiercely loyal to the French monarchy, often placing it at odds with the English-controlled stronghold of nearby Castelnaud. Protected by 200m cliffs, a double wall and double moat, it presented a formidable challenge for would-be attackers, though it saw little direct action.

Highlights include the château’s Romanesque keep, a grand Salle des États (State Room) and frescoed 15th-century chapel, and the 16th- and 17th-century apartments built to lodge castle barons. From the battlements, there’s a fantastic view along the Dordogne.

The impressive fortress is rather bare-bones inside; buy the information booklet to add context.

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