Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Normandy Châteaux



Say France and one thing many people think about is French "Châteaux".  Maybe Versailles near Paris or the many fabulous castles along the Loire and Dordogne valleys spring to mind.  However here in Normandy we also have our fair share of "Châteaux".

In France the word château fort (strong castle) refers to medieval type castles with towers and moats, thick walls and arrow slits for windows.  Your archetypal castle of knights and damsels in distress!  The ascent of François 1st to the French throne in 1515 saw the birth of the French Renaissance and with it the building of a new type of château or what we would to refer to as stately homes.  Gone were the moats and thick walls to be replaced with windows, decorative towers, landscaped gardens and above all luxury on a huge scale.

Le château de Pontécoulant

The closest château to Eco-Gites of Lenault is a small château of this later type - Le château de Pontécoulant.  Close enough to walk or cycle to and is nestled in the valley between us and Condé-sur-Noireau.  It is not huge and you may well find you have a tour pretty much to yourself but is is an interesting visit and shows how the rich of this region lived in years gone by.

 

Falaise Castle

Falaise Castle is our closest château fort.  Dating back to the11th century, Falaise was the birthplace of William the Conqueror, although much of the castle you now see has been reconstructed after falling into ruins in the 18th century.  Don't be put off by this though - it is a magnificent place to visit and boasts fantastic new interactive displays that really bring the castle to life.



Caen Castle

Caen also has a medieval castle but I have to admit to have never visited it.  The boys have been twice with school but may possibly have had a slightly biased view of their day ... "the castle was great but why did we have to spend so long in the museum?!"  I'll leave you to see what you think of it then and we'll try and visit ourselves this year!  (I hope it is better than their website!)



The Château de Balleroy

The Château de Balleroy is a stately home just 45 minutes from here.   A large stately home built in 1631 it has all you would expect from a fine Renaissance building including landscaped gardens and perhaps not quite of the era, a hot air balloon museum.  It is on our "Places to Visit in 2014" list and maybe a balloon museum will be more interesting to the boys than the Museum of Fine Art attached to Caen Castle.  We shall have to see.
PS - I have since visited Balleroy and it is lovely - have a read here.


These are just a few of the Châteaux you can visit in Normandy - and with such variety there should be something to keep everyone happy.  Have you visited any of these castles?  Do let us know what you thought of them in the comments section below.  I also have a Pinterest board to celebrate these fabulous buildings - Normandy Châteaux.

MummyTravels

22 comments :

  1. They are simply stunning. I haven't visited them, but I so want to now! I've always fancied Versailles, too, which I'm sure I'll get to one day :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've not been to Versailles either ... one day! As for these four - I have been to 2 and plan to visit the other two this year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Château de Balleroy look particularly gorgeous! I love that maze-like garden. And hot air balloon museum? That's queer but I would love to visit it. #CityTripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We only did the gardens on our visit but hope to go back one day to see inside the house and visit the hot air balloon Museum.

      Delete
  4. I love the elegance of Le château de Pontécoulant and the grandeur of Château de Balleroy. So many chateaux - so little time! Lovely post #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true and Normandy has many more I didn't write about here.

      Delete
  5. Love the castles! I've only been to the one in Caen from this list, and it was alright; fun to climb around the walls! #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have since been to Caen but somewhat briefly on a very wet day - we didn't go into any of the museums but enjoyed walking around what is the largest enclosed castle in France (I think!)

      Delete
  6. I do love a castle, wherever in the world I am - I hadn't thought that Normandy would have so many but of course it makes sense that there'd be the chateaux forts given the history. I think those are even more fascinating than the more recent ones, to me at least. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are even more than I wrote about here too which you can see on my Pinterest board - https://uk.pinterest.com/ecogiteslenault/normandy-ch%C3%A2teaux/

      Delete
  7. Never been to any of these though I've seen signs to Falaise many times!!! My favourite château in Normandy is Carrouges. #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carrouges in on my To Do List for this year along with Vendeuvre.

      Delete
  8. I love how France has all these wonderful chateaux...and to have so many close to you - spoilt for choice. I would definitely love to visit The Château de Balleroy - it looks magnificent! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have yet to go inside Balleroy but the gardens are lovely.

      Delete
  9. We are exploring the Scotish Castles at the moment. What a awesome way to experience history! I think we've to travel further to France to do the same. Do they also ask all for entrance fees in France? #CityTripping

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caen is free although you do have to pay a small fee to go into some of the museums within the castle. The others do charge but at not expensive. For Falaise prices are:

      ADULT: 8,00 €
      ADULTS CONCESSION PRICE/STUDENTS: 6,00 €
      CHILDREN (from 6 to 16) : 4 € (free under 6 years old)
      FAMILY PASS. 20 €

      Delete
  10. They are all so beautiful Rosie, I have pinned this for later as we are off to France this year, I am so looking forward to all that gorgeous countryside x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy your trip, Sarah - are you all sorted with accommodation? If not our gite sleeps up to 5 and is well placed fora all these castles.

      Delete
  11. So much choice - I'm putting a visit to come and see you on my travel bucket list for 2017!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds fabulous Alice :) Do contact me if you have any questions.

      Delete
  12. oh wow that Chateau looks stunning! I love beautiful castles!!! I'll be adding that to my list now! #citytripping

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Château de Balleroy is my favorite place form the list. And, a hot air balloon museum? I am definitely checking your post on that.

    ReplyDelete

I love receiving comments and I do read every one but if you are simply here to spam me with a link, guess what ... I won't publish it.