Château de Castelnaud

Top choice castle in Beynac-et-Cazenac

Image by Christian Delbert Shutterstock

The massive ramparts and metre-thick crenellated walls of this quintessential medieval fortress (occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War) contain an elaborate museum of medieval warfare with displays of daggers, spiked halberds, archaic cannons and enormous crossbows. Climb the dark 16th-century artillery tower stairs to see the exhibits and reach the rugged 13th-century donjon (keep). From the upper terrace a fantastic view encompasses the Dordogne Valley all the way to Castelnaud’s arch-rival, the Château de Beynac, 4km to the north.

Daily demonstrations of giant trebuchets and a forge bring the fortress to life, and events including one-hour guided evening tours by costumed actors or mock battles are staged mid-July to August (check the website).