Château Gaillard

Château Gaillard

Château Gaillard or Gaillard Castle is a medieval fortress located in the Upper Normandy region of France. It was constructed in 1196–1198 by English king Richard the Lionheart on a strategic hill overlooking river Seine and a town of Les Andelys below. The inner bailey is open between March 15 and November, however the outer baileys are open all year without charge.



Location: Les Andelys   Map

Constructed: 1196–1198 by Richard the Lionheart

Open: 10am- 1pm, 2- 6pm March 15- Nov 15

Closed: Tuesdays, May 1

Entrance Fee: 3 Euros, Children: Free


History of Château Gaillard:

Gaillard Castle was erected on the orders of Richard the Lionheart, who was both the King of England as well as Duke of Normandy. Much of the structure was constructed just within a year with involvement of 6000 workers. The legend claims that the name of the castle is derived from Richard's exclamation once he saw his completed stronghold: "How beautiful she is, my one-year-old daughter! What a 'gaillard' (well fortified) castle!" Although Richard was official a vassal of French king Philip II, the relationship between the two men was pretty rough. Crusader king finally died in 1199 and the English throne was passed to Richard's brother John. King Philip II saw his chance to take back the region of Normandy. Despite good protection and thick walls the castle was conquered by king Philip II in 1204 after a lengthy siege. In the 14th century it became a private residence of king David II of Scotland after his exile from his homeland as well as a royal residence of King Louis IX. Later on it became a royal prison for Queen Marguerite de Bourgogne, who allegedly cheated on her husband King Louis X.


During Hundred Years' War it became a site of bitter struggle between the English and French armies. It changed hands repeatedly, however in 1449 it was finally captured by the French armies. It lost much of its strategic importance with the invention of gun powder. However it still remained a serious threat to the king's army. Henry IV of France ordered its destruction in 1599 so it wouldn't be used by the enemies of the royal house. Much of the structure was destroyed by local Catholic monks who used military fortifications as a quarry for more peaceful structures. Capuchins and Penitents held these grounds until 1862 when it was proclaimed as a French Historical Monument in 1862.