Castles in Normandy

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From the incredible Falaise Castle and the eye-opening Mont Saint-Michel to the astonishing Gaillard Castle, the Castles of Normandy are absolutely mind-blowing places to discover. There are other fabulous Normandy castles and chateaus including Creully Castle, Caen Castle and Château de Courcy, which is one of the best known castles in Normandy. Here are the best 10 things to see and do while exploring the Normandy's forts and fortresses, with a few additional picks thrown in for good measure.

What are the best Castles in Normandy?

1. Falaise Castle

Falaise Castle is a fortress located in the south of the commune of Falaise in Normandy, France. William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born at an earlier castle on the same site in about 1028. The construction was started on the site of this earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England. In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, King Philip II of France ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was abandoned during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.

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2. Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is an imposing historic village in Normandy, France which dominates the skyline from its position atop a small rocky island. Joined to the coast via a causeway, Mont Saint-Michel is best known for its Benedictine Abbey and Parish Church. Today visitors flock to Mont Saint-Michel to view the remarkable Abbey and Church and to stroll through the ancient streets. Be warned however that the climb to Abbey is demanding. Many other sites remain including the medieval ramparts, the Mont Saint-Michel Museum of History, a Maritime Museum and the 14th century Tiphaine's house.

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3. Chateau de Pirou

The picturesque Chateau de Pirou in Normandy is one of the oldest Norman castles in existence and is now a popular attraction. The site has been occupied since the 9th century, although at that time it was a wooden construction and was updated to stone in the 12th century. It was built to defend the nearby harbour. Surrounded by a moat, with granite towers and turrets, and defended by five gates, Chateau de Pirou is simply a wonderful building, constructed just as we might imagine a fortified castle would be built. It was built by the Lords of Pirou, one of whom found favour with William the Conqueror during the Battle of Hastings, and was rewarded with an estate in Somerset. During the Hundred Years War, Pirou came under siege numerous times, and ownership of the castle changed on many occasions. It is possible to walk up to the ramparts and walk along the castle walls, and this provides excellent views.

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4. Gaillard Castle

Gaillard Castle is a ruined medieval castle, located above the commune of Les Andelys in Normandy, France. Construction began in 1196 under the auspices of Richard the Lionheart. It has a complex design, and uses early principles of concentric fortification; it was also one of the earliest European castles to use machicolations. The castle changed hands several times in the Hundred Years' War, but in 1449 the French captured the castle from the English king definitively, and from then on it remained in French hands. The inner bailey is open to the public from March to November, and the outer baileys are open all year.

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5. Creully Castle

The Château de Creully is an 11th-century castle in Normandy. The castle has been modified throughout its history. Around 1050, it did not resemble a defensive fortress but a large agricultural domain. In about 1360, during the Hundred Years War, it was modified into a fortress. During this period, its architecture was demolished and reconstructed with each occupation by the English and the French. With the end of the war ownership of the castle returned to baron de Creully. Twenty two barons of the same family had succeeded to the castle between 1035 and 1682. In 1682, the last baron of Creully, Antoine V de Sillans, heavily indebted, sold the castle to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, minister of Louis XIV, who died the following year without living there.  Descendants of Colbert occupied Creully until the French Revolution in 1789, when it was confiscated. The castle's large halls are used today for various events, including weddings, concerts, exhibitions and conferences.

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6. Châteauneuf-sur-Epte Castle

The ruined castle of Châteauneuf-sur-Epte is in the commune of Château-sur-Epte in Normandy, France. Construction started around 1097 by William Rufus, King of England, to reinforce the frontier along the Epte river. The castle occupied a site on the border between the Duchy of Normandy and the Kingdom of France. The castle's role declined in the 16th century and it was ordered to be dismantled in 1647. Today the ruins are private property.

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7. Caen Castle

The Château de Caen is a Norman built around 1060 by William the Conqueror. His son Henry I then built the Saint George's church, a keep and a large hall for the ducal Court. Today, the castle serves as a museum that houses the Museum of Fine Arts of Caen, the Museum of Normandy and the Exchequer of Normandy.

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8. Château de Courcy

The Château de Courcy is a ruined castle in Normandy typical of 12th-13th century military architecture. At the start of the 17th century, it was demolished by order of Richelieu and, losing all military function, slowly became an agricultural enterprise. The condition of the site has continued to deteriorate and very little survives today.

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9. Château de Conches-en-Ouche

The Castle of Conches-en-Ouche is a ruined fortress in Normandy which was largely demolished in the 16th century. Construction dates back to 1034 and the castle was captured by Philip II of France in 1199. Conches-en-Ouche Castle was the target of bitter fighting during the Hundred Years' War and changed hands several times before being finally taken by the French in 1449. In 1591, members of the Catholic League took refuge there; seen as a potential base for enemies of the monarchy, it was demolished soon afterwards.

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10. Colombières Castle

The Château de Colombières is a medieval castle built during the 14th century in Colombières, Calvados, Normandy.

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Full list of Castles in Normandy

As well as the best known Castles in Normandy, there’s a host of other amazing places to explore. From sites such as Colombières Castle to fascinating locations such as Tour des Archives, if you have the time to visit these incredible places you’ll find you have a wealth of things to see and do. It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list and wouldn’t claim to be, but hopefully for those seeking to visit important Castles in Normandy it will give you a good place from which to start exploring.

Alencon Castle

The Castle of the Dukes of Alencon is an 14th century Norman fortress located in the French city of Alencon in Normandy. Read More

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Arques-la-Bataille Castle

​The picturesque Arques-la-Bataille Castle is a ruined 12th century fortress built on a rocky promontory overlooking the eponymous city in Normandy, France. Read More

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Bricquebec Castle

​The Château de Bricquebec is a castle in the Manche département of France. Originally built in the 10th or 11th centuries the fortress was completely rebuilt in the 14th century and later altered in the 16th century. Read More

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Carrouges Castle

​Carrouges Castle is a 14th century fortress château located in Normandy, France. It is unusual in its combination of an austere fortress with a comfortable residence. Read More

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Chambois Castle

​Chambois Castle is an impressive 12th century Norman fortress located in Normandy, France. While strictly speaking only the castle keep survives it remains an impressive structure. Read More

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Chateau d'Ivry-la-Bataille

Chateau d'Ivry-la-Bataille is a ruinous Norman castle in Normandy, France. It is among the earliest examples of a stone donjon or keep, which would become a common feature of later Norman castles in various parts of Europe. The construction of the castle dates to around 1000 AD. Read More

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Chateau d'Orcher

Chateau d'Orcher is a castle in the commune of Gonfreville-l'Orcher in Normandy France. Built to protect the mouth of the River Seine, it includes an imposing square crenellated tower. Read More

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Chateau de Gisors

​Chateau de Gisors is a castle in the town of Gisors in Normandy, France. The castle was a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was intended to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the King of France. Read More

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Chateau de Gratot

​The Château de Gratot is a ruined 14th century medieval castle in the commune of Gratot in Normandy, France. Read More

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Chateau de Regneville

​Chateau de Regnéville is a ruined medieval castle in Normandy, France. The fortress was founded in the 12th century and the major remains date from the 14th century. Read More

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Chateau de Robert le Diable

Chateau de Robert le Diable is a French feudal castle from the time of the Dukes of Normandy. It is situated at Moulineaux, near Rouen, in the département of Seine-Maritime at the side of the A13 autoroute. Read More

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Dieppe Castle

Dieppe Castle is a medieval fortress located in the French town of Dieppe, Normandy. The original castle was founded in 1188 and the site was restored in the 14th century. It was bought by the town in 1903 and today is home to the Dieppe museum. Read More

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Domfront Castle

​Domfront Castle is a ruined medieval fortress in Normandy, France. The ruins include the castle keep, the enceinte, ramparts, towers, casemates and the former Sainte-Catherine et Saint-Symphorien chapels. Read More

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Fecamp Castle

​Fecamp Castle in Normandy is an important medieval fortification which was once home to the powerful dukes of Normandy. Read More

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Harcourt Castle

​Harcourt Castle is an impressive medieval fortification in Normandy, France. Likely dating back to the second half of the 12th century, the first stone castle was built by Robert II d'Harcourt - a companion in the crusade of Richard Lionheart. Read More

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Rouen Castle

​Rouen Castle was a fortified ducal and royal residence in the city of Rouen in Normandy. The original medieval castle was built by Philip II of France from 1204 to 1210 following his capture of the duchy from John, Duke of Normandy and King of England. Read More

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Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle

Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle is a partially-ruined 11th century French fortress in Normandy, France. Today, remains consist of a set of fortified walls with towers and a massive stone keep. Read More

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Tour des Archives

​The Tour des Archives is the keep of a former castle in the commune of Vernon Normandy, France. Its origin dates to 1123, built by King Henry I of England, the son of William the Conqueror. Read More

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Tourelles Castle

Tourelles Castle is a medieval fortress in the town of Vernon in Normandy, France. The castle originated in 1196, when Philip II of France seized Vernon from the forces of Richard the Lionheart and made the town a military base. Read More

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Our database of Normandy castles is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Castles in Normandy, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.