|Château de Beynac|
With the lower parking lots empty and waiving their normal fees, we are feeling lucky as we begin our trek to the top of this mountainside medieval village. However, as charming as the sites en route to the château are, we are cautious of the very slippery cobblestone walkway that leads upward. The morning rain has stopped, but it’s still very wet and the walk is longer than we had planned. Had the tourist office been open, we would have gotten a map that showed the parking lot near the château’s entrance.
|View en route to the Château de Beynac|
|Perhaps this dame was cheering us on as we made the |
not-so-easy climb to Château de Beyac.
|A bench invites us to stop and catch our breath en route to Château de Beynac.|
Une femme trés sympa greets us when we finally arrive at the château, and we don’t at all blame her for the extra half-euro charged for a one-page castle guide. (I mean, come on! Couldn’t that cost be included in the 8-euro admission?)
Even before the fortress was built, Beynac’s location, at the top of a limestone cliff, made it a desireable stratetic destination. Prehistoric relics in the nearby caves suggest that reindeer hunters inhabited the area long ago. Barbarians and Normans tried their hand at domination. Eventually, in 1050, Hélie de Beynac, “the first known and recorded lord,” according to the Beynac-Cazenac website, began building what would eventually become a huge fortification.
|Window seat in Château de Beynac|
In 1189, Richard the Lionhearted of England captured the castle and it remained in English hands until Richard was killed during the siege of Chalus, near Limoges, in 1199. Afterward, the castle returned to the hands of the French for 161 years. The Treaty of Bretigny, signed in 1360 returned control to the English where it remained until France’s victory at Castillon-la-Bataille ended the 100-Years War.
|Colorful frescos from the 14th or 15th century on the wall of the oratory at |
Beynac are being restored by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
|Interior room in Château de Beynac|
Jumping ahead a few centuries, the castle was purchased in 1962 by Lucien Grosso who began restoration work, which continues in several sections of the fortress.
Not surprising given its location, visitors to Beynac-et-Cazenac can enjoy sweeping views of the valleys on both sides of the Dordogne river. Looking across, we spot Beynac’s neighboring castle, Château de Castelnaud.
|An impressive neighbor: Château de Castelnaud|
According to Wikipedia, Château de Beynac, has served as a film location for several films including “Ever After” (1998) and Jeanne d’Arc (1999). The village was a location for Lasse Halleström’s “Chocolat” (2000).