Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Castles & Fortresses in Normandy

The Duchy of Normandy was established in 911, as a result of Viking raids into the area and as far in land as Paris. By 1204 Normandy was part of the Kingdom of France. After the Vikings and from the beginning of the 13th century to the end of the 16th century Normandy was a highly contested region. The French and English fought one series of campaigns after another, from the Normandy Campaigns to the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion. These conflicts had a very noticeable impact on the construction of fortresses and castles in Normandy. As rulers and their supporters attempted to defend their positions, castles were built, destroyed and/or damaged, repaired or reinforced. Today William the Conqueror’s castle in Caen, heavily reinforced by Philip II, and Richard the Lionheart’s castle at Andelys are popular attractions.

Private Guided Tour of Castles & Abbeys in Normandy

Explore some of the finest and most significant medieval sites in Normandy on this private tour. Available in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Polish. Begin the day in the picturesque streets of Rouen with their timber-framed buildings, Rouen cathedral and Le Gros Horloge. Beyond Rouen, visit places associated with the Vikings, William the Conqueror, Joan of Arc and Richard the Lionheart – focussed on some of Normandy’s spectacular historic abbeys and castles.

Castles & Fortresses of Normandy

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 intact. Up until the beginning of the 20th century the castled served as military 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 and Impressionist paintings.

Château Gaillard

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. Gaillard, for example, has one of the earliest uses concentric fortifications and one of the first uses of machicolations in the defensive walls