I’m a little obsessed with castles, which means whenever I go anywhere, especially in Europe, I’m on the lookout for a castle to visit. Luckily, the magnificent Château de Biron was only a few kilometres from our base in Monpazier, which meant there was no way I was leaving the Dordogne without visiting this incredible fortress.
Perched high on a hill and dominating the surrounding landscape, it’s impossible to miss Château de Biron. Built in the 12th century, the castle boasts commanding views over the surrounding countryside and is an impressive sight. After it was damaged during the Hundred Years War between France and England, the castle was restored in the 15th century, resulting in a curious blend of architectural styles. It was owned by the Gontaut-Biron family, one of the four baronies of the Périgord, until the early 20th century.
When we arrived at the castle, we walked through the gates into a large grassy courtyard and having paid for our tickets, were free to wander about as we pleased. Our first port of call was the chapel (above). The chapel features high-vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, which in the bright sunlight left a colourful twinkling pattern on the stone floor, as well as the tombs of a couple of prominent members of the Gontaut-Biron family.
We then walked across the courtyard to have a look around the main part of the castle. The castle is huge and I enjoyed wandering aimlessly around it – up and down the stone staircases and going inside all the different rooms. The castle is largely unfurnished, but it was nevertheless an impressive sight, and I strolled around admiring the stonework and the intriguing mix of architectural styles.
One of my favourite rooms was the kitchen, which was enormous. But I also enjoyed walking across the ramparts between the various towers and taking in the gorgeous views over the adjoining village of Biron and the surrounding countryside. We explored every possible nook and cranny of the castle, and it was great fun.
Having spent a good hour or so exploring all there was to see, we made our way back down the hill towards Biron. On the way, we stopped inside the chapel under the castle, which is home to a small arts and crafts market. The market was fantastic with some lovely, unusual products for sale, and I ended up buying a little leather coin purse and my father bought me a beautiful silver bracelet.
By now it was lunchtime, so we had a quick look around Biron – which is a quaint, pretty little village – then stopped off for lunch in the local auberge. Château de Biron is a great place to spend an hour or two. Sometimes these massive castles you can see for miles turn out to be a disappointment when you visit, but Château de Biron’s interior turned out to be just as impressive as the exterior.