14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit

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Author:  Caroline

The many castles in Dordogne are a veritable highlight of any trip to the region. They come in all shapes and sizes and are mostly open to the public, some even double up as hotels. Read on the find my favorite 14 castles, their history and practical information to plan your visit.

Dordogne is located deep in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwestern France. Referred to by locals as “the Perigord”, it is the epicenter for French truffle and duck production. Aside from gastronomy, Dordogne is home to storybook villages, hilltop castles with sweeping views, and the impressive pre-historic Lascaux caves.

I spent one week driving through Nouvelle Aquitaine, focussing on the Creuse and Dordogne departments. Although I usually prefer slow travel, my itinerary in Dordogne was absolutely jam-packed. The department has so much to offer travelers, that one could easily spend a few weeks and never get bored. So, without further ado let’s delve into the various castles in Dordogne you must visit.

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Dordogne Castles Planning Guide



HOW TO GET AROUND: I recommend renting a car to visit the Dordogne. In 2022 the region was hard at work to set up charging stations for electric cars. Find the cheapest rate.

GOOD TO KNOW: Sarlat-la-Canéda is the epicenter for a lot of tours into the Dordogne valley. We had our own car so did not use any tours, but if you are looking to travel without a car this could be a great spot to base yourself to discover Dordogne.

USEFUL READING: Official websites of Dordogne and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

Castles in Dordogne
Château de la Meynardie in Dordogne

A Brief History of Castles in Dordogne

There are few places in the world that are as densely packed with castles as Dordogne. No really! I was absolutely gobsmacked, especially in and around the Dordogne Valley where castles literally had been built on opposing hills, facing each other.

Why are there so many castles in Dordogne you ask? One of the main reasons is the political instability of the region. The most well-known of which was the 100 Years War between France and England that ripped through the 14th and 15th century. At one point England seized control of a swatch of land within the French territory. That little piece was Aquitaine, present-day Dordogne and its surroundings. Protective castles soared like mushrooms, and every strategic viewpoint & crossroad was lined with high-walled castles.

After the war these castles lost their defensive purposes and received a thorough make-over, turning them into little Renaissance palaces befitting local nobility. The vast majority of the typical Dordogne castles are an eclectic mix of sturdy fortified walls adorned with dainty Renaissance features.

You might also like to read: 7-day guide to the Nouvelle Aquitaine region

14 Castles in Dordogne Worth Exploring

It is impossible to drive more than 15 minutes before you come across (at the very least) one magnificent castle. Frankly, there are so many, one could easily spend many a month visiting all of them. I have compiled a small-ish list of castles, all relatively close to each other with the epicenter being the town of Sarlat.

Tip for castle lovers| If you are a big fan of castles, you might want to check out some of the 3000 (!) castles in Belgium or the turreted castles in the Netherlands, both of which have remained blissfully untouched by the hands of over-tourism.

14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit

Two castles in Dordogne you can stay in

14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit

Staying in a castle is something else! We have a few castle hotels back in Belgium which got me absolutely hooked on this style of accommodation. Surprisingly they usually are reasonably affordably and locally run.

My time in Dordogne was sadly too short to be able to enjoy many castle accommodations, but hopefully, you have a bit more time on your hands. We stayed in the Château de la Meynardie, which can be rented from May to September.

Below are two additional castles hotels in Dordogne that are highly rated, look wonderful, and have a sustainable ethos, making them unmissable in my book!

Le Petit Manoir

A magnificent 15th-century “Town Castle”, that is to say, it is located at the heart of the city of Sarlat. It has but 9 rooms, each of them wonderfully decorated to ensure the historic nature of the castle is preserved (none of this stark white-washed walls business thank you very much!). Perfect for a little romantic getaway. Check rates and book.

Château de la Cote

A beautiful 15th-century ivy-clad castle that was built during the height of the 100-year war. Before becoming a hotel in 1989, it was a family-owned castle. The hotel has managed to strike a great balance between historic castle & modern-day conveniences. Added bonus, it is conveniently located right next to Brantôme. Good value for money this little castle. Check rates & book.

14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit

12 Dordogne castles to explore

14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit
Chateau de Hautefort
The impressive Dordogne castle Hautefort

1. Hautefort Castle

Commonly famed as the most beautiful castle in the region and now listed as a historical monument is the formidable medieval castle, Hauteforte. It dates back to the 1100s and the subsequent centuries saw the castle remain a stronghold for royalty throughout the struggles of warfare common in France at that time.

By the 17th century, the castle had transformed into a ‘renaissance palace’. The renovations removed much of the former defensive fortifications and were carried out by Marquis De Hautefort, mistress to King Louis XIII.

The castle underwent yet more restorations by Baron and Baroness de Bastard who spent 30 years renovating the castle in the mid-20th century. Devastatingly the chateaux was severely destroyed following a fire immediately after the restorations and yet more restorations were undertaken giving you the majestic castle you see today. 

While visiting the castle guests can enjoy a guided audio tour and watch an audiovisual documentary on the history of the castle in the projection room. For the youngest guests, there is a detective puzzle and fun games to play that take them around the castle learning its history as they go, making it one of the best castles in the Dordogne for the whole family.

Practical details for visiting Hautefort Castle

Tickets: €/$11, purchase online or at the castle entrance.
Opening hours: Closed middle of November – March. Hours vary depending on the month. Check the official website.

Beynac Castle Dordogne

2. Beynac Castle

Château de Beynac is named after the village Begnac, which is hands-down one of the prettiest villages in the Dordogne. This heavily fortified castle is found perched 200 meters above the Dordogne River high on a rocky cliff face. It started life looking over the river in the 12th century and has undergone many strengthening modifications over its 9 centuries.

The castle was conquered by none other than Richard the Lionheart who scaled the cliff below. His occupation didn’t last long however and the castle passed through many noble hands until it was abandoned in the 18th century. The late 20th century saw a new lease of life breathed into the castle as private owners took charge and carried out extensive renovations. 

You will not find better views overlooking the vast, lush and beautiful Dordogne, than when gazing over the walls of Chateau de Beynac. You can also soak in the view of the neighboring Chateaux of Fayrac, Castelnaud, and Marqueyssac. 

Inside the castle, you will enjoy French history at its best from rare 15th-century frescoes, an impressive 17th-century staircase, and even a 13th-century toilet (Yikes!).

Practical details for visiting Beynac Castle

Tickets: €/$9.5 online or at the entrance
Opening Hours: Daily 10.00 am to 7.00 pm

The majestic Castelnaud Castle in Dordogne
The majestic Castelnaud Castle in Dordogne

3. Castelnaud Castle

Found just along from Beynac you will find another one of the glorious castles in Dordogne that enjoys limitless views of the surrounding countryside and the Dordogne River. 

Like many 12th-century castles, Castelnaud has a riveting and turbulent history. The castle bore witness to warfare and conflict through the centuries and changed hands between English and French owners on many occasions, as they battled for control of the surrounding region.

It wasn’t until the end of the Hundred Years War that the castle saw calmer times as the Caumont family lovingly repaired it turning it into living quarters all the while keeping its defenses strong. Despite the renovations, the castle was vacated by its owners and it fell into ruin during the French Revolution. it wasn’t then until 1966 that the final renovations began. 

Following its latest round of restoration, this castle currently enjoys being one of the most visited in southwest France, owing in part to the museum displays it offers. You can find a collection of arms, armaments, medieval war machines, and exhibits of medieval life in the ‘museum of war and the middle ages’ housed at the chateaux.

TIP: For those visiting in the summer months, you can also enjoy a guided tour in French or English.

Practical details for visiting Château de Castelnaud

Tickets: €/$10- €/$13, depending on the season. Purchase at the entrance
Opening Hours: Vary depending on the season. Check official website

The Dordogne castle of Jumilhac
The turreted Dordogne castle of Jumilhac

4. Jumilhac Castle

This stunning castle exudes magnificent French architecture. Its history can be seen to date back as far as the 1st – 5th century during the Gallo-Roman era when Jumilhac was an agricultural estate. However, the stunning structure you see today was largely built in the 1600s. 

The identifiable black cones and pyramids that tower over pale masonry are uniquely French in style and afford this chateau the name ‘Black Pearl’. Its splendor can be enjoyed from the outside through to its interior, as the inside was transformed into a comfortable and luxurious residence in 1655. 

When visiting the castle you can enjoy a guided tour that will walk through centuries of the castle’s existence from the Middle Ages through to the 20th century. The guided tour is available year-round and you will uncover the history of the Jumilhac family and learn the legend of Louise de Hautefort, or ‘La Fileuse’. 

In the summer months, you can experience the castle by night, and journey through time by torchlight with background baroque music to set your scene. Finally, step into pristine French-style gardens and discover a gorgeous rose garden, plant maze, and mini-planetarium overlooking the Isle Valley. 

Practical details for visiting Château de Jumilhac

Tickets: €/$9.50 at the entrance
Opening Hours: Daily 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm from April to 15th of November, only open Saturday and Sunday from the 15th of November to the 1st of April.

5. Puyguilhem Castle

This 16th-century castle was originally built as a hunting lodge for Mondot de La Marthonie, the very first president of the Parliament of Paris and a close friend of Francis I of France. The keen observer will notice this castle is unlike the typical castles in Dordogne. It was built according to the Renaissance style (did someone say turrets galore?) which was prevailing in the Loire Valley at the time.

After centuries of neglect, the French state swooped in at took ownership of the castle in 1939. It underwent very extensive renovations (spanning over 20 years) and was subsequently opened to the public. Today you can tour around the castle either with or without a guide.

We took a tour with a guide, which turned out to be completely in French. While I am fluent in French, the tour was actually rather hard for me to understand as it contained a lot of very technical terms. Skip the tour, instead opt for the information booklet that can be purchased at the entrance and explore at your own pace.

Plan your visit to Château de Puyguilhem

Tickets: €/$6 online or at the entrance. Can be visited with or without a guide (one guided visit in French per day at 10.00 AM).
Opening hours: Differs depending on the season. Consult the official website.

6. Milandes Castle

This pretty castle is a real mix of historic and modern styles. It was originally built in the 1400s by Francois de Caumant, then owner of castle Castelnaud, for his young wife. His intention was to turn the castle from a cold and unwelcoming structure into a warm and comfortable residence. Using the finest Renaissance architecture, period features, beautiful stained glass windows, and mullioned windows he certainly achieved his goals.  

Its inhabitants were to be short-lived as the chateaux fell into ruin after the French Revolution, until the 20th century when it was lovingly restored by Josephine Baker. The interior now reflects a 1930s style chosen by Josephine giving the castle a real mix of history.

You can enjoy the splendor and magnificence of her art deco renovations when you walk the castle halls, the art deco bathrooms and bedrooms are beautiful, if slightly out of place in a castle in my personal opinion

The exhibitions and displays inside the castle commemorate the life of Josephine. A life started in the back street clubs of New York and took her to France, where she played a significant role in the resistance during World War 2. Although she went on to sell the castle it remains as a proud tribute to her. 

Plan your visit to Milandes Castle in Dordogne

Tickets: €/$12.50 to be bought at the entrance
Opening Hours: Depends on the season. Consult the official website

Rocamadour Castle
Rocamadour castles atop Rocamadour village

7. Rocamadour Castle

The medieval village of Rocamadour is one of the officially recognized prettiest villages in France. Upon receiving the title, it promptly became one of the most visited places in all of France after Paris and the Mont Saint-Michel. What makes Rocamadour so special is the three layers of buildings hanging precariously off a cliff.

The first layer is the one-street village of Rocamadour itself, next comes the beautiful Sanctuary, and at the very top lies the Rocamadour Castle. During the Middle Ages, Rocamadour was a bucket list location for many pilgrims. As foot traffic increased, a castle was built for defensive purposes. The castle you see today was extensively rebuilt in the 19th century.

The castle itself is not open, however, part of the rampart (defensive walls) is. Clamber up the crumbling stairs to get the very best views over the village of Rocamadour. Getting there can be done in three different ways: a. By car, follow the signs for P2; Walk the Chemin de la Croix from the Sanctuary; Take 2 elevators, starting from the village and ending in front of the Rocamadour Castle.

Plan your visit to Rocamadour Castle

Tickets: €/$2 to be paid in cash into a little turnstile gate.
Get all the info: In-depth guide to visiting Rocamadour and the castle

Castelnau- Bretenoux Castle

8. Castelnau- Bretenoux Castle

A formidable fortress standing proudly on a hilltop and can be admired from every direction. It is an impregnable red stone structure that can be seen from every direction, with its six stone towers imposing stone walls that dominate the skyline of the Dordogne Valley. 

This castle of Dordogne dates back to the 1100s and is now a French National Heritage monument. It is a fine example of a fortified medieval chateau with impenetrably thick walls that withstood centuries of war, although was once captured by Henry II of England during the Hundred Years’ War 

After being abandoned in the 18th century and partly destroyed by fire it was bought and restored by famous French Tenor Jean Moulierat, who restored and decorated it with his love of art and antique furniture. He later gifted it to the French state on his death, on the condition that nothing be removed or re-arranged.

Guests today can tour the restored castle and enjoy the artifacts, coats of Armour, art, and intricate stained glass windows. You must also walk to the top of the castle’s keep or climb the 90 steps of the narrow spiral staircase to soak up the most incredible view of the castle’s courtyard and breathtaking Dordogne Valley below. 

Practical details for visiting the Château de Castelnau- Bretenoux

Tickets: €/$8 to be bought at the entrance or online
Opening hours: Closed on Tuesday, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm; 2.30 pm – 5.00 pm (6.00 pm in summer)

Montal Castle in Dordogne
Montal castle in Dordogne valley in France

9. Montal Castle

What makes this castle unique is that it was designed and built to the specification of a woman, the Lady of Montal, Jeanne de Balsac. Sadly her build and design of the castle were never fully realized. Legend has it that the word ceased on the death of her eldest but the real reason for its incompletion is not fully known. Throughout the castle, you can expect to see sculptures and ornamental motifs that lay tribute to her son, Robert de Montal

Her ownership and commission of the chateaux were a true reflection of the French Renaissance period in the 16th century. Renaissance architecture and style sweep through the castle in its art and design producing exquisite fine French chateaux. 

The castle was later purchased and restored by the wealthy art collector and industrialist Maurice Fernaille who spent his ownership reacquiring the content of the chateau previously sold. Today a guided tour will showcase these original furnishings, tapestries, statutes, and decorative ornaments together with exact replicas of the artifacts he couldn’t acquire. 

He later gifted the castle to the French state and guests can uncover its beauty through a guided tour of walking around at their leisure, together with a trip to the adjoining symmetrical French Renaissance gardens.

Practical details for visiting Châteaux de Montal

Tickets: €/$8 to be bought at the entrance
Opening Hours: Closed on Tuesday, 10.30 am – 12.30 pm; 2.30 pm – 5.00 pm (6.00 pm in summer)

Puymartin Castle in the Dordogne

10. Puymartin Castle

Chateau de Puymartin is another of the castles in Dordogne with an expansive history that withstood the demands of warfare. After being built in the 13th century it became English possession until it was bought from the English and then abandoned. 

After being rebuilt in 1450 by Radulphe de Saint Clar it changed hands several times and was damaged by the trials of war and religion. Namely fighting between Protestants and Catholics. 

There is also a legend associated with the chateaux of the Le Dame Blanche, the white women. It is said that the husband of Thérèse de Saint Clair came home unexpectedly from war to find his wife and her lover, who was then executed. Thérèse was then locked in a small room of the castle for 15 years without ever leaving until she died. Legend has it that the ghost of Thérèse can sometimes be seen dressed in white around the castle.

Now owned by the Montbron family you can visit the castle from April to November. Once inside you will be transported back to a medieval castle of yesteryear that boasts exquisite rooms, furnishings, tapestries, artwork, and a classical spiral staircase. There is even a meditation room and a mythology theme that portrays tapestries depicting the story of Helen of Troy painted in the 17th century. 

Practical details for visiting Chateaux de Puymartin

Tickets: €/$10 online or at the entrance
Opening Hours: Closed from January to March. Opening hours differ depending on the season. Check the official website.

Jardins de Marqueyssac, Vezac

11. Jardins de Marqueyssac, Vezac

This chateau was built around the French Revolution to be a luxury residence. Its setting couldn’t be more perfect as it sits perfectly with views over the Dordogne valley. The chateau itself isn’t open to the public but a visit is all about the exquisite and expensive 22-acre gardens. 

The gardens were designed by a student of Andre Le Notre, the famous designer of the gardens of the Château de Versailles, and have become one of the most visited in the Perigord area. 

Their setting high above the Dordogne River affords the most breathtaking views as you stroll through gardens. Your path will be illustrated with information about the history of the valley, its nature, flora, and fauna and there is a free self-guided tour available in French and English available from April to September.  

There is a playground, a high course, swings and huts to keep the little ones entertained, and a quaint tea room and restaurant for everyone to stop and refuel. The tearoom and restaurant can be found on the panoramic terrace and afford the most beautiful views to enjoy your refreshments. 

Tip: An ever-popular event is visiting the gardens at night. In July and August, you can explore the landscape by candlelight and gentle music, with the warm summer air around you. These tickets can only be purchased on the official website.

Practical details for visiting Jardins de Marqueyssac, Vezac

Tickets: €/$11.90, purchase at the entrance
Opening Hours: Differ depending on the season. Find the latest opening hours on the official website.

Château de Val Dordogne

12. Val Castle

This fairy-tale-like castle once sat proudly on a hilltop when it was constructed in the 15th century. It was built with six towers all with a different design making it instantly distinguishable. 

However, in 1946 the electricity board bought the castle from its owners intending to build a damn and flood the valley. The once impressive position of the castle high above the valley was no more and the castle was abandoned and vandalized until it was bought by the village in 1953. 

Since the castle has been given a new lease of life and maximizes its position of sitting in a serene lake. It is a truly majestic view if you visit in the summer months with the sun beaming down on the water reflecting the castle. When water levels are high you can reach the castle by a purpose-built walkway through the water, but don’t worry you will stay dry. 

Art exhibitions are held throughout the summer and the lower floors are furnished with rich gothic styles of the 19th century. You can even stay the night at this one-of-a-kind hotel and it is guaranteed to be one of the most unique stays you’ll ever have.

Plan your visit to Château de Val

Tickets: €/$6.50, to be bought at the entrance
Opening Hours: Closed November, December and January. Check latest opening hours on the official website

How Many Castles Are There in Dordogne

Dordogne is said to have over 1001 castles within its geographical boundaries. They vary is form, some being ‘mere’ hunting lodges, while others are full-on Disney princess castles with turrets and moats to keep out invading marauders (more on that in the next section).

You might also like: Prettiest villages in Dordogne to visit

Map of Castles to Visit in Dordogne

All of the above Dutch castles can be found in this interactive Google Map or by taking a sneak peek at the below screenshot.

Map of Castles in Dordogne

Sustainable & Resposible Travel to Dordogne

EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE DORDOGNE: Dordogne is one of the most visited regions in France. Yet most of the visitors cluster around the main highlights. Consider renting a car and heading into the lesser known Périgord Vert.

EAT LOCAL: France does a stellar job of labeling their locally produced products. The appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) is a label that identifies an agricultural product whose stages of production and processing are carried out in a defined geographical area – the terroir.

STAY LOCAL: Consider staying in a Chambre d’hôtes (locally run B&B) instead of a large hotel. The smaller ones cannot be found on big booking platforms. Look into the Chambre d’hôtes website for recommendations.

Concluding on the Castles in Dordogne

There are few architectural feats as beautiful as turreted castles perched atop a hill, preferably with a sweeping view and a heroic story including knights in shining armor. The 1001 castles in Dordogne certainly tick all of the above boxes and more.

The Dordogne castles are often at the heart of smaller towns or, equally possibly, smack in the middle of nowhere. Both make relying on public transport to “castle-hop” virtually impossible. Rent yourself a small car, pack you luggage and make a castle road trip out of it. You will not be disappointed.

14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit


Itinerary: 7-days in Nouvelle Aquitaine
Dordogne: Prettiest villages in Dordogne to visit
Brantôme: Practical guide to storybook Brantôme
Rocamadour: An in-depth guide to the prettiest village in France
Saint-Cirq-Lapopie: Everything you need to visit this quaint village
Further out: The hidden gem of Eastern France – Doubs & Jura

Castles in Dordogne: Pin it
14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit
14 Castles in Dordogne to Visit


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Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! My name is Caroline, and I am a full-time writer & photographer. With this blog, I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism, and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. Adventure awaits!

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