The map to the right shows the direction you would travel if you were visiting the castles and fortified towns along the Dordogne River and doing them in order from a base in Limeuil on the junction of the Vezere and Dordogne Rivers. Given we had five days to do our journeys, we weren’t able to do them in their geographical order. On the day we visited Montfort Castle, we had started the day by following the Dordogne River over the border into the Occitanie Region to Rocamadour. It was on the way back from Rocamadour that we decided to visit the castles of Castelnaud and Montfort. The only problem with that plan was that the Chateau de Montfort is in private hands so was not open for visiting. Just below the castle is a small village and we had to be happy with taking some photos from the road and having a short stroll along the main street.
The site of the current Chateau is on a bend in the Dordogne River and so is built on a very picturesque spot. This also meant that during the wars of the Middle Ages, it held a very strategic site in the valley. The castle entered history at the time of the mopping up after Simon de Montfort’s campaign against the Cathar heretics further south. The Castle was one of a few controlled by the Cathar supporter Bernard de Casnac in the region. In 1214 Montfort rolled through the Dordogne Valley capturing castles as well as this chateau that would later take on his name. He burnt it to the ground. For some bizarre, unknown reason, the rebuilt castle kept the name and continued to hang onto it despite it being destroyed and rebuilt another four times during the 100 years war. So the gorgeous Montfort castle on the cliff above the Dordogne River today is quite majestic but has little to do with Simon de Montfort…he died at the age of 43, four years after his destruction of the first castle built on this bend in the river.
As can be seen from the images here, given that it is in private hands, it is probably best to view this castle from the river below, perhaps by kayak.
Chateau de Montfort’s place in history covers many centuries and it was most prominent during the Middle Ages. However on the way into Montfort there is a spot where cars can pull over and read a small memorial to some modern history of the area. It is a plaque commemorating the partisans from this region of France for the work they did during World War 2, resisting the NAZI occupation of France. Translated into English, the sign reads…
In the Turnac Woods, facing these rocks, resistance fighters of all origins decided to fight together against the Nazi occupation, and with the support of the people created the first underground of Perigord Noir.