Château de Caen
The Ducal castle in Caen was built in the 11th century as the principal residence for William, Duke of Normandy. As one of the largest fortified enclosures in all of Europe, the castle has also been used as a fort and housed various military barracks. Today the buildings within the fortifications house two of the city’s museums, namely the Musée de Beaux Arts, which has one of the largest collections of 16th and 17th European paintings in France, and the Musée de Normandie, which exhibits the history of Normandy.
Château de Dieppe
Founded in 1188, the Château de Dieppe was destroyed shortly after in 1195 and not restored until the 14th century. Later in 1694 much of the town was destroyed from an Anglo-Dutch naval attack but the castle remained in tact. Up until the beginning of the 20th century the castled served as a barracks. Today, still with its spectacular panoramic views over the coast and seaside town, the castle is home to the Château-Musée de Dieppe. Besides exhibitions of a maritime theme, there is also an extensive collection of ivory objects.
Between 1830 and 1848 the Château d’Eu served as King Louis-Philippe’s summer residence; now the Musée Louis-Philippe. Here the Anglophile king welcomed Britain’s Queen Victoria twice (3 – 7 September 1843 and 8 – 10 September 1845). These State visits were the foundations of what would eventually become “Entente cordiale” between France and England. Ironic given the older castle (in which Joan of Arc stayed) had been purposefully destroyed to evade capture by the English during the Hundred Years War.
Château du Gacé
A 12th century castle built using both stone and red brick, that was then renovated in the late 16th century following a peasant revolt in Normandy. The western, round tower, known as the Talbot Tower, was constructed during the Hundred Years War. Today the castle houses Gacé’s Mayoral offices, as well as the Musée de la Dame aux Camélias – dedicated to the story and background behind the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas (junior). The woman who inspired the novel, Marie Duplessis, was born in Gacé.
A ruined Medieval fortress, or château-fort, located high above the town of Le Andelys and overlooking the Seine River. The castle was built for Richard the Lionheart, who was then both King of England and the feudal Duke of Normandy. Construction began in 1196 and was completed within two years. Advanced features common in many later castles were used here. For example this castle has one of the earlier uses concentric fortifications and one of the first uses of machicolations in the defensive walls … go to Château Gaillard.
For more ideas and suggestions for places to visit … go to archaeological sites and museums in Normandy.