Visit the Chateau Castelnau in Lot, Midi-Pyrénées
Castelnau castle stands in an enviable hilltop location with lovely views across the rolling countryside in all directions, and is one of the most impressive sites in the region.
It is a lovely well-proportioned castle, with the castle now surrounded by three walls - large round towers stand at two of the corners, and the house and a smaller tower in the third corner of the triangle. There are further supplementary defences outside the main walls.
From the middle of the 12th century the castle fell into English hands (as did much of south-west France) only returning to France following the end of the Hundred Years War. It was once again in the hands of the original owners - the barons of Castelnau.
The original house on the site was first fortified around 1100, although much of what we see today was added during the six centuries that followed - the square tower and original building can still be seen. Further defenses were added during the 12th - 15th centuries, and the castle was converted into a more 'habitable' building in the 17th century, when it no longer served a defensive purpose.
During the early 18th century the last of the line of barons of Castelnau died without an heir, and for 170 years the castle fell into disrepair, a situation significantly worsened by a substantial fire in the middle of the 19th century.
At the end of the 19th century, thanks to the efforts of Jean Moulièrat, it was bought, renovated, and decorated in the medieval style, and Chateau Castelnau-Bretenoux is now a National Monument that belongs to the state.
Map showing location of Chateau Castelnau