Visit Chateau de Castelnaud
Castelnaud is a splendid castle at the confluence of the Dordogne river and the Céou river, between Domme and Beynac (each of these is one of the most beautiful towns in the region.
The castle has magnificent views across the surrounding countryside, and to Castle Beynac standing across the Dordogne River.
History of the Chateau de Castelnaud
Castelnaud castle was built in the 12th century, and has the high drama history that you would expect. It's original owner supported the cathars and got chased away by the Albigensian crusade of Simon de Montfort. Later taking the side of the English during the Hundred Years War, the chateau was a useful base for harassing the neighbourhood and generally making life miserable in the region.
The Middle Ages were largely passed in conflict with their near neighbours at chateau Beynac, and Castelnaud managed to change hands seven times between the French and the English, as each fought to control the region.
At the end of the Hundred Years War the Caumont family repaired and added to the castle, adding large new living quarters but always keeping its defences a key priority. The Caumonts became Protestants and protected the castle during the wars of Religion in the 16th century. Captain Geoffroy, who was born at the castle, fought so ferociously that no one dared to attack Castelnaud.
The owners though, ended up moving to the much more comfortable Chateau des Milandes just along the valley.
With the French Revolution the castle was neglected and fell to ruin. Its stone was used as a source of building materials in the neighbourhood. In 1966 the castle was listed a Historic Building and its renovation began.
Explore the Chateau de Castelnaud
The castle is fascinating both for its history, and the classical defenses which it employs, from the outer wall right through to the inner keep.
The castle is huge and a visit allows you to explore the artillery tower, donjon and kitchens as well as many other rooms. As well as a fascinating glimpse into castle life in medieval times the castle has an incredible collection of medieval weapons.
The 'museum of war and the middle ages' at the chateau contains a collection of arms and armaments, copies of medieval war machines and various animations of medieval life throughout the day. There are full sized models of medieval weapons of war such as trebuchets, perriers and mangonels and during the summer there are guided tours explaining the art of medieval warfare. These are available in English.
Castelnaud is the most visited chateau in south-west France - both for the castle itself, and for the associated displays in the museum.
Chateau de Castelnaud, Opening Hours
The Chateau de Castelnaud is open every day throughout the year.
February, March, October, 1-11 November: 10.00-18.00
April, May, June, September: 10.00-19.00
July, August: 09.00-20.00 . During July and August day time guided visits are available at no extra charge and will explain the history of Castelnaud and the evolution of the weapons used. Guided visits are available the rest of the year by reservation only.
12-30 November, December, January: 14.00-17.00 (open 10.00-17.00 in the Christmas holidays)
The last admission is one hour before closing. Adult prices are 9.80 euros, and 4.90 euros for 10-17 years old. Under 10s are free.
In July and August it is possible to make night time visits on Monday to Thursday evenings. Night time visits begin at 20.30 and 22.15 pm. Evening visits are 'theatricalised' with various actors in medieval dress animating the visit.
Places to Visit Nearby
Be sure to visit the village of Castelnaud whilst you are here, it is one of the most beautiful villages in France. Beynac and La Roque Gageac are both nearby and these too are classified most beautiful villages of France. The Chateau de Beynac is also an impressive chateau to visit.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.