Between the late 12th and early 13th century, a circular wall was built around the town. It measured 250 metres in diameter, and surrounded 3 hectares of land.
The city then began to develop outside of its ramparts, due to lack of space, in the hamlets of la Chapelle, la Grave and Mirabel, where craftsmen, farmers and shop-keepers settled down.
There were 3 or 4 fortified gateways to close the ramparts, and 2 can still be seen today. Opposite where you are standing, is St Catherine gateway with its two original hinges. It is 10 metres high and 2 metres thick: the same dimensions as the rampart wall. La Chapelle gateway, located north-west of the town, still has its original herse spot. The main southern gateway no longer exists. It was protected by a fortification called a “barbacane ».
The ramparts also had defense towers. On Paly tower, which has now become a house, you can see an opening where the old rampart walk crossed through the building.
A few fragments of this walkway still remain visible today, in several of the town’s homes.
The rampart also had defense systems such as a moat and a counterscarp.
From the late 17th century onwards, the consulate (which is the ancestor of todays’ town councils) progressively sold part of the rampart land to inhabitants who used the stones and land to enlarge their homes and to build fancier houses.
The counterscarp was torn down and became an alley, then a boulevard.
The moat was filled and turned into gardens. In the 19th century, during the French colonial period, exotic vegetation was planted here and it rapidly adapted to the climate : magnolias, palm trees and banana trees began to grow. This explains why Beaulieu’s nickname is “the Limousin Riviera”.
From the 13th to the 17th centuries, Beaulieu sur Dordogne, which used to be called Bellus Locus, was a fortified city.
This video shows how the town’s old fortifications were organized and how different parts can still be seen today.