I’m the King of the Castle – Chateau de Bonaguil   6 comments

So our 2 week stay in Roussillon and the Pyrenees Orientales was over and now it was time to head home. As with the last couple of years we’d be taking it in stages and stopping off to do some interesting stuff. We’d stopped off in the Alps previously but that wasn’t really on our way home so this time we thought we’d try the Dordogne. After a long drive through the foothills of the Pyrenees, past Andorra (much enjoyed by D as he has a fascination with small countries) and an overnight in a place called Montauban we were once again at large with time to enjoy the sights.

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Chateau from the village

The rather excellent France for Families website recommended the Chateau de Bonaguil as a fine place to visit and as all the family love a good castle (see the post about the Chateau de Peyrepertuse) we headed on our way. It was pretty much en-route to our hotel in the Dordogne and after a pleasant drive through the Tarn and Lot valleys the castle suddenly rears up from the rolling wooded hills that seem to characterise this part of France

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Outer Barbican and Donjon

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Kitchens and main oven

It was a stunning spot, very much like the area I live in at home in Herefordshire. Rural, and pretty without ever being truly dramatic.

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TBF on the outer defensive walls

The previous day had been cool and showery but the sun was out again now and the temperature warming nicely. It’s a majestic castle, its walls, towers and turrets of golden stone glowing in the sunshine.

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Donjon from below

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Grosse Tour from the Esplanade

The castle was originally built in the 13th Century but it was transformed into the fortress seen today by the wonderfully named Beranger de Roquefeuil. He was by all accounts a brutal and vindictive so and so, keen on repression and extortion of his subjects. Unsurprisingly his peasants revolted so he transformed the castle into a mighty fortress around which he could quell any rebellion. It took 40 years but it was never actually besieged and was intact until the Revolution when it was partially demolished but is still a mightily impressive place.

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View down from the Donjon

As a place to explore its one of the best I’ve visited in France. It has all the usual walls, battlements and towers and a mighty Donjon in the centre with an elevated roof terrace with spectacular views down over the castle and over the local wooded hills.

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Donjon from the Kitchens

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Roof of the Donjon

It also has some unusual features of its own including a “spiral” ceiling in one of the store rooms and caves under the castle used for storage and defence.

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Underground chambers

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Spiral Ceiling

They also have an outdoor theatre here and a play performed here under the castle walls at night would be a magical experience.

Needless to say the kids and the adults pretending to be kids had a fabulous morning poking about and playing at medieval knights. TBF is above such tomfoolery preferring the simple pleasures of warm sunshine in a nice spot.

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View from the Donjon

After a picnic lunch in the grounds we headed over to our hotel for a couple of nights and what a great hotel it was. The Hotel de Plaisance was located right next to the banks of the Dordogne in a place called Vitrac with views across the valley to the hills beyond.

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From the hotel bedroom

The staff were friendly and welcoming and went to great lengths to make sure we enjoyed our stay (they even held a table in their excellent restaurant for us even though we hadn’t booked – just as well as the food was absolutely superb). The hotel had a marvellous pool set in its own landscaped flower be-decked gardens and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours playing in the pool and sunbathing, having the place pretty much to ourselves.

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Hotel Pool

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Enjoying the afternoon sun

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TBF takes a break

We had a nice stroll by the river before our evening feast to book our kayak trip down the river the following day.

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Upstream from Vitrac Bridge

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Happy Meal

I’ve used smaller photos on this post to see if that helps the page loading times. I’d appreciate any comments about whether the reduced size impacts the post and of course if the page loads a little quicker.

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6 responses to “I’m the King of the Castle – Chateau de Bonaguil

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  1. Andy, was able to read the whole of this post and it was kind of you to match the photos to my poor broadband speed ! Looks like an excellent end to a great holiday!

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    • No problem Mark, glad I can share some of the experience as I know you’ve also done some similar French trips in the past. Looks like dropping down a Flickr photo size does make a fair bit of difference so I’ll leave it that way for my future posts.

      Still a couple of posts left from France with a kayak trip down the Dordogne and a couple of castles/gardens. Then I have to catch up on my stuff since I got home!

      Hard work this blogging lark 🙂

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  2. I have to say that I didn’t notice you’d changed the size of the photos until I’d read that you had… so obvioulsy no detrimental impact!

    We saw one of those spiral ceiling thingies in a building (I think it was a monastery?) in the Angers area last summer. I like wandering around places like that and imagining how people used to live.

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    • Thanks Chrissie, I do prefer the bigger size but I can look at the photos anytime, no point posting them that big if they take ages to download though 🙂

      I prefer the ruined castles as they are more evocative I think than the restored ones, more imagination to get a feel of what life was like. This one was a classic in the genre. We visited another castle a couple of days later that was more intact so you can compare and contrast when I get round to the write up. That spiral thing was pretty impressive

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  3. Never really had an issue with the size of the pics here in metropolitan Silverdale. But I don’t think the smaller pics detract much. I thought that I’d been to the Dordogne when I was in my teens, but I don’t remember anything half so nice as this looks. Another addition to the list of places to be explored!

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    beatingthebounds
    • I was a bit surprised as well. I thought I’d fine it a little tame after the the other places we’ve been to but I loved it. Sunny blue skies always helps but the golden stone of the villages and the greens of the trees are an irresitable combination. And castles and rivers as well, happy days!

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