Castles - Palaces - Manor Houses

Château de Beynac, medieval fortress with 900 years of history

by Bert Schwarz

Its heavy defensive walls were once guarded by some of France's most famous personalities: King Richard I "Lionheart" of England, who crossed our path while still a prisoner at Trifels Castle, Simon de Montfort, leader of one of the Crusades, the Lords of Beynac and the four Lords of Périgord, who ruled in the castle's state room. It is said that deep in the heart of the fortress, the echo of the battles of the Hundred Years' War still echoes.

This was a time when the rulers of France and England had adopted the Dordogne as the border between their territories. Today, on the heights of one of the most beautiful villages in France, the Beynac Fortress peacefully invites you on a unique journey between heaven and earth to the heart of the Middle Ages.

Château de Beynac

Story, Camera, Editor : Bert Schwarz

© travel-magazine TV 2021

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The rainfall in autumn and spring makes the Dordogne navigable. It is the safest way between Bergerac and the Bordelais. Along its meandering course, boats with a very shallow draught, gabarres, sail and transport goods such as walnuts, chestnuts, wood or wine from the Périgord. Each boat must obtain a right of passage from the Lord of Beynac.

Château de Beynac © Bert Schwarz
Château de Beynac © Bert Schwarz

Since the 13th century, the seigneural fishery, known for its salmon, settled along the river, below the castle. The strategic position of the Beynac fortress allowed easy control of the local waterways, which significantly increased its economic power and made its lord one of the most powerful figures of the 12th and 13th centuries.

Château de Beynac © Bert Schwarz
Château de Beynac © Bert Schwarz

Adhémar de Beynac died in 1194, leaving no direct heir, and therefore rightly allowed Richard I to offer the castle of Beynac to one of his most loyal companions, a man to whom he also entrusted responsibility for his castles in Aquitaine during his absence: the warrior Mercadier.

Château de Beynac © Bert Schwarz
Château de Beynac © Bert Schwarz

Kitchens were installed during the renovations that took place in the 13th century and changed the appearance of the castle fundamentally. Since the Lords of Beynac could afford such a kitchen, they once again showed their power and wealth.

The hooks fixed to the ceiling make it possible to keep the supplies out of reach of the rats. Here, the pisé floor forms a path through the rock against which the castle kitchens are built. The kitchen, designed on a scale normally reserved for castles and abbeys, made it possible to roast meat, while a bread oven is also available, an essential component for all meals.

Even in the absence of the Lords of Beynac, the power that once emanated from here is tangible and impressive at every step.