I recently visited this 10th-century castle, built around 988-990, to serve as a military center and principal town of the Vicomte of Vallespir. Castelnou castle is the best example of a medieval fortress existing in the Roussillon region and was built in the shape of an irregular pentagon, in which two of the sides join at right angles. Inside the castle, its history and way of life in the Middle Ages is exhibited through a medieval ambiance with tapestries, statues, and armor.
The chateau is also a producer of AOC wines, with its vineyards full of mediterranean vines: grenache noir, syrah, mourvèdre, old carignan, and muscat. The grapes are harvested by hand and made into high-quality wines: “Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d’Age,” “Côtes du Roussillon Rouge et Rosé,” and “Muscat de Rivesaltes.” I sampled only one of the reds, which was too dry for my taste, so passed on trying more or buying any.
Just below the castle, the medieval town of Castelnou, with its art galleries and souvenir shops woven along the quaint, cobblestone streets, has been rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France.