Guide To Chateau de Beynac, A Must Visit In The Dordogne

Planning a trip to the Dordogne? You’ll want to visit the Chateau de Beynac in the beautiful town of Beynac et Cazenac.

Perched on a precipitous cliff at the top of the village, the chateau is an imposing sight visible from miles away.

It’s the most authentic and best preserved medieval fortress in the Dordogne, once the home of Richard the Lionheart.

The castle was once the seat of one of the four baronies in the region, and played a crucial role in the Middle Ages.

Chateau de Beynac

Quick Tips

  • To reach the castle, make the steep 20 minute walk uphill from the bottom of the village.
  • You can also park your car at the top in a paid lot, just a minute away from the entrance.
  • Visitors can scan a QR code for an informative and free audio guide.
  • Tickets are 11.50 euros.

Mini History of the Chateau

The Chateau de Beynac dates back to the 12th century. It was originally constructed by the Barons of Beynac to control the valley and protect the region from invaders.

Its strategic location atop a limestone cliff provided a commanding view of the Dordogne River, making it a vital defensive site.

Throughout its history, the castle has seen endless conflicts, particularly during the Hundred Years’ War and then again in the Wars of Religion.

aerial view of Chateau de Beynac and the Dordogne River

It was a key site in the rivalry between Richard the Lionheart, who occupied it in 1189, and his adversaries, including the French Crown.

The Dordogne was considered the boundary between the two territories of England and France.

After the medieval period, the castle continued to be an important residence and was later restored in beginning in 1961.

Guide To Chateau Beynac: What To See


The castle is fortified with a double moat and multiple lines of ramparts, which were designed to repel attackers.

The central keep, dating from the 13th century, is the oldest part of the castle. It’s flanked by additional buildings that were added over the centuries.

The keep was used as a shelter during conflicts.

Eleanor and Richard exhibit
Eleanor and Richard exhibit

Richard III and Eleanor of Aquitaine Exhibit

You begin your visit to Chateau de Beynac with an exhibition that takes you through the lives of King Richard the Lionheart and his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Eleanor was married to King Henry II. But their strong-willed personalities didn’t mesh well, and they ended up in endless conflict.

Eleanor urged her sons, including Richard, to rebel against their father. However, the rebellion ultimately failed.

Despite that, it resulted in Richard solidifying his control over Aquitaine and the surrounding regions.

Beynac Castle, being a significant stronghold in the region, was of strategic importance to Richard in those military campaigns.

Guard Hall
Guard Hall

Guard Hall

One of the highlights of the castle is the Guard Hall, which features impressive vaulted ceilings and served as a center for gatherings and administration.

This guardroom was attached to the keep at the end of the 12th century. The lord, his sergeants-at-arms, and their mounts entered this room by the third-point door.

Only the lord entered the house without dismounting his horse here first.

This defensive dwelling was lit by oil lamps or torches, whose acrid smoke mixed with that of the braziers and whose blackened beams of tallow have preserved the memory.

State Room
State Room

State Room

This grand room is where the four barons of Perigord met.

It’s a long stone hall with vaulted brick ceiling and a Renaissance fireplace.

The walls are often made of thick stone, decorated with tapestries and heraldic symbols that reflect the lineage and alliances of the castle’s occupants.

This room once held the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries that are now in Paris’ Cluny Museum.

Residential Quarters

Then, you can take a spin through the residential quarters.

The dining room is quite impressive, with a painted and beamed ceiling.

There are sitting rooms, an oratory, and some lovely tapestries.

You can also explore the vaulted bedroom purportedly used by Richard the Lionheart. You access it from the terrace of the spur.

Richard was so attached to the castle that when the Baron de Beynac died without an heir, he decided to give it to one of his most loyal captains, the famous Mercadier.


Then, pop outside and take a walk on the battlements to grab the drop dead gorgeous views.

The battlements feature crenellations, which are the alternating high and low sections (merlons and embrasures) along the top of the walls.

These crenellations allowed defenders to take cover behind the merlons while firing arrows or other projectiles through the embrasures.

As you look out, you may feel like you’re transported back in time 800 years to a pastoral barony.


Period Kitchen

Before leaving, you’ll see a period kitchen.

It was carried out during the castle’s renovation in the 13th century.

The hooks on the ceiling were used to hang supplies so the rats wouldn’t get them. There’s a massive fireplace and a bread oven.

the Barbicon, a fortified gateway to the castle

Practical Guide & Tips For Beynac Castle

Address: Place du château 24220 Beynac-et-Cazenac


Once in the village, look for signs directing you uphill to the parking areas for the Château.

There is a designated lot at the top of the hill, close to the castle. This may be more convenient than parking in the village and walking up the steep hill. You. use the pay and display parking machines.

There are limited spots though. So, if you are visiting in the summer, arrive early or park at the base of the village.

You’ll need to be fairly fit to make the steep hike up in the heat.

view form the ramparts
view from the ramparts

Hours: In July and August, the chateau is open from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. The rest of the year opening from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm. Last entry is one hour before closing.

Tickets: 11.50 €

Pro Tips:

There is a lovely medieval themed boutique. You will find books, toys, costumes, figurines, etc.

Adjacent to the town of Beynac is the little village of Cazenac. If you walk along the main road gives you a lovely panorama of the valley below and of the castle in the distance.

If you are staying in Beynac for lunch or dinner, I highly recommend La Petite Tonelle. Just make reservations on Fork!


video showing views from the castle battlements
views from the battlements

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the Chateau de Beynac. You may find these other southern France travel guides useful:

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