Beautiful Castles in The South of France
Palais de Papes
Palais de Papes isn’t just the largest Gothic palace in France, it’s the largest in all of Europe so it should come as no surprise that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. It dates back to the 14th century and was the residence of the pontiffs at the time. It’s kept in an extremely good condition, you can really get an idea of how important this building would have been in its heyday. When visiting this huge castle in Avignon you’ll be able to explore the ceremonial halls, the chapels, the cloister and even the Popes lavish private apartments that are decorated with frescoes that are priceless.
Chateau de Castlenaud
Here we have a castle perfect for those really looking to get into their medieval history. The Chateau de Castlenaud is a restored medieval fortress that has since been converted into a museum of medieval warfare. Inside the walls of this historic building you’ll find a great collection of weapons, armour, artefacts and even furniture from the medieval period, even better are the reconstruction siege equipment pieces here, catapults and trebuchets a-plenty! Don’t worry though it’s not all artefacts, there are interactive exhibits that the kids will just love. To top it all off the castle sits high up looking over the Dordogne River where you’ll have a great view of the sights around you including the medieval village of La Roque-Gageac.
Cité de Carcassonne
This is truly one of the best examples of fortified medieval architecture in all of Europe. To start with this castle has all the features you’d hope to see when visiting a place like this, ramparts, towers, inner walls and barbicans make up the bulk of the structure with the always welcome add of drawbridge to match that much-loved stereotypical appearance. The real attraction here however is the Musée de la Torture, aka the museum of torture. Cité de Carcassonne was once the headquarters of the infamous Catholic Inquisition, well known for their gruesome torture techniques. In this museum you’ll be able to see many of the most stomach-churning methods that they used to do this and it even hosts some of the original equipment so you can really get a good idea of how grim they truly were.
Chateau de Beynac
Chateau de Beynac is an extremely well preserved castle first built in the 12th century. It sits on top of a limestone cliff where it was first placed for defensive purposes. This building benefited from a restoration by Lucien Grosso in 1962, thanks to his efforts the history of the castle has really been brought to life. Many of the rooms have been decorated to look as if they did during the medieval times so the place has a great atmosphere that really involves you, there are also some stunning tapestries featuring scenes of the castles former residents that’ll illustrate the history in a truly apt way for you. Fun fact about this place, it’s often used as a set for films such as Ever After in 1998 and Chocolat in 2000.