Friday, January 25, 2008

Le Château De Bonaguil

In 1995, Ken and I spent a couple of weeks in the Lot Valley in southwestern France. Le Lot is a river roughly parallel to, and south of, the Dordogne. Very close to the town of Fumel on the Lot, and kind of lost in the hills to its north, is the medieval fortress of Bonaguil.

The Château de Bonaguil see from across a small valley.

As I am with Roman ruins, I'm a sucker for a good medieval castle. And Bonaguil is an amazing, nearly intact, example of late fifteenth/early sixteenth century military architecture. It's pretty much what I imagine when I think "medieval castle."

Rooms and towers are ready for exploration.

You clan climb around inside, outside, and even under this impressive château-fort. The lord's residence is intact and visitors can crawl around the various rooms and gawk at the huge fireplaces. Most of the rooms are open to the elements. There is no furniture or other appointments, mostly just bare stone. But your imagination fills in the blanks most readily.

The surrounding countryside can be seen from the donjon tower.

From the high tower of the donjon keep to the damp, dank passages beneath the courtyard, you can almost see and hear knights and knaves and peasants and prisoners in this place. It's way cool.

The donjon, or keep, towers up above the central courtyard.

If castles are your thing, or even if they're not, this is a good one. You can see it in an hour or spend more time if you like. If you're in the region, it's worth seeking out Bonaguil. And, there's a town nearby for food and stuff!

Ken sits on the wall of the bridge over the moat between the castle's inner and outer walls.


  1. oh man. it makes me feel good to think there have been such beautiful things in this horrible old world for so long. thanks.

  2. I have this 10x14 book: Cross-Sections Castle, which shows each room, on each floor, with people's activities. Only drawings, of course. I'm fascinated by that period. I never though that a medieval castle would still be standing up, nearly intact and open to visitors. Your photos are a treat, and you describe things so well. We do see the actions, don't we? Thank you.

  3. The opening above the steps on the last photo looks just like a wine bottle. Must be time for some vin.

  4. I had the exact same thought as Chris. I wonder what goes best with a medieval castle? A nice light rose for the sunny forecourt? A good rich burgundy to ward off the chills of the nether regions? It's fun to contemplate.

  5. purejuice, and there's so much more!

    claudia, sounds like a neat book!

    chris & susan, that's what I was thinking! It's really the niche where the counterweight for the drawbridge was.

  6. Great photos. I've had a plan for years to scan in all my old photos, but I can see it taking up all my retirement whenever that comes along. It's amazing how everything looks OK, until you see all the dust and scratch marks on the scan..

  7. I've been around the Lot valley a lot (tee-hee -- a joke I never tire of, especially with my students) but don't know about this castle. It looks magnificent!

  8. autolycus, there are brushes and bulbs that remove dust easily, and for the rest, there is photoshop! I've certainly removed a scratch or two from my slides that way.

    betty, the next time you're out that way, you should check it out!

  9. When in Paris, two years ago, I scanned glass negatives that my father took in .... 1882. And thanks to Photoshop, I was able to recover some of them. That was incredible. Of course, they show their age, but I didn't think I would be able to get anything from them. You can't stop progress!


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