Visit the Chateau Beynac in Dordogne, Aquitaine
The Chateau de Beynac is one of the most impressive castles in the Dordogne region of France - both for the well-preserved castle itself and for the stunning location it holds on top of a cliff with views across the surrounding countryside, the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, and the Dordogne river.
The castle was originally constructed in the 12th century by the Barons of Beynac to defend this strategically important location. Facing across the river the cliff, more than 150 metres in height, provided sufficient natural defence. The rear of the chateau had defences constructed to match, based around a double wall of fortifications and a natural gully. hence the chateau was virtually impregnable.
The castle passed briefly to Richard the Lionheart when the owner incumbent died without a natural heir, but the transition was shortlived since Richard the Lionheart also died soon after, as did Mercadier, his companion who was entrusted with the castle. The castle returned to the Beynacs.
During the Hundred Years War and the many battles between the Fnglish and the French, Beynac remained in French hands while just a few hundred yards to the south Castelnaud was under English control. Inevitably this led to a large number of skirmishes during the period. In 1214 the castle was taken by Simon de Montfort, but soon fell back in the hands of the Beynac family. A few decades later the part of France containing Beynac was ceded to the English.
But the tide turned, of course, and after numerous treaties and agreements made and broken Beynac was definitely rewon by France, as was Castelnaud soon after, shortly before the end of the Hundred Years War.
As the years passed, and Beynac changed hands, it slowly fell into decline and disrepair. It was after 1961 that significant efforts were made to renovate this important chateau, by the incredible efforts of its current proprietor - efforts that continue to the present. The castle is now a very impressive tourist attraction, and a fascinating testament to the history of the Dordogne region.
Map showing location of Chateau Beynac