The chateau of Castelnau-Brenenoux, located on on a promontory at the intersection of the valleys of the Dordogne, Cère and Bave rivers, is visible from a long distance and is easily recognizable by the distinctive red-brown stone used in its construction. The tiny village surrounding it on the slopes below is built of the same local stone.
The first barons of Castelnau appear in the 11th century. Construction of the chateau began around 1100 under Hugues who built a wall around his manor. He was the ancestor of the powerful dynasty of Castelnau, owners of a rich and prosperous region and vassals of the Counts of Toulouse.
The chateau was taken by siege in 1159 by Henry II Plantagenet and remained under English domination until the end of the Hundred Years war in the 15th century when it became once more the property of the barons of Castelnau. The layout is almost a triangle, with round towers at each angle. The square keep and the main building of the medieval period still remain. The original conception was very imposing, with three enclosing walls, wide curtain walls and nine round towers.
The chateau was enlarged several times between the 12th and the 15th century as the need for defence against new armaments evolved.
More changes were made in the 17th century. Large windows and richly decorated salons were added as well as the balcony of honour.
The chateau fell into disrepair after the death of the last Castelnau in 1715. In 1895 it was bought by Jean Mouliérat, a singer with the Paris Opéra Comique. He undertook the restoration of certain parts of the chateau and furnished it with his collection of furniture and sacred works of art. After his death in 1932, the castle was given to the state.
Restaurants: One restaurant, open in summer. More restaurants and cafés in nearby Bretenoux.
Visits: A visit to the chateau and its village is highly recommended. Guided tours are usually in French only. Visitors can see seven rooms, restored and furnished in the medieval style.