The Dordogne region is probably most famous for its châteaux, in fact, it’s reputed to have over 1500 of them dotted around. Although the term château doesn’t necessarily just mean castle, the term may also be given to a country estate or even an estate which produces wine; which is probably why it’s a bit vague how many there actually are in the region.
That aside, the Dordogne has some of the most spectacular castles in all of France; most of them were built during the 12th-14th centuries and many have retained their medieval condition. Although many of them aren’t open to the public, the ones that are, are definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
So here is our selection of Dordogne châteaux to have on the ‘must see’ list. They are some of the most stunning examples of medieval architecture in the region.
Château de Beynac
This castle is one of the best known in the region, remarkably preserved since it was built in the 12th century. It stands atop a limestone cliff and looks out over the town of Beynac as well as impressive views of the Dordogne river. In fact, it’s been featured in many films, including the 2000 film Chocolat, which was filmed in the village of Beynac.
Visitors to the castle will be able to see features from many different eras, as the castle was added to over the years. The oldest part is a keep, which is surrounded by various residences which were added to in later centuries. Some of the best sights to see include tapestries which depict the lives of the lords that live there, including hunting and other festivities, as well as some rare 15th Century frescoes.
You can visit the château as part of our Dordogne Exploration cycling tour.
Château de Commarque
Close to the pretty town of Sarlat lies the castle of Commarque. This was also built in the 12th century, and began its life as a wooden tower. This was replaced by a stone keep and the castle was improved and added to up until the 18th century.
It stands on a rocky outcrop in the valley of the River La Beune.
Amazingly, there is a pre-historic cave under the castle, and most of the ruins were hidden under vegetation for over 350 years! Now visitors can see carvings which have been etched into the rocks, depicting various scenes.
Our Dordogne Prestige en Vélo holiday visits Sarlat on one of the daily rides.
Château de Fénélon
This pretty castle is set above the village of Saint Mondane and was first built in the 13th century. However, most of the castle contains buildings from the 16th century as additions were included as part of extensive improvements. The castle is rambling and contains many different buildings, fortified walls, gatehouses, courtyards, even a subterranean river which has kept the castle supplied with water.
Inside the castle gives a good idea what it was like living in the Middle Ages, with sumptuously decorated rooms with hanging tapestries, armoury, and elegant bedrooms with soft furnishings.
You can visit this château as part of our Dordogne Exploration cycling tour.
Just a small selection from the 1500 in the region, but some of the most impressive. Of course, all our holidays will take you past many more of these wonderful fortresses and buildings.
So, if you fancy being treated like a King or Queen on your holiday, then get in touch, and we can help you visit some of the beautiful châteaux in the region as well as having the opportunity to stay in some of them too!!
Visit Dordogne’s most impressive chateaux
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Château de Fénelon - By Père Igor - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0