Les Andelys (Normandy), France October 2023 (Tour 8)

We have to be back in the UK for 8 October.

We arrived early at Chateau de Bouafles campsite in the Eure Department of Normandy. In many respects it is a first class campsite right on the banks of the River Seine (the staff are friendly and we were offered a very large enclosed plot with private bathroom facilities, a built in BBQ and private covered patio area) but, for all that, I’ll not be including it in my list of recommended sites because, on the downside, it doesn’t have a bar and there isn’t one within a three mile radius of the site. Shame, because in all other respects, the place is great.

Of course there was plenty of food and wine in the Van but, you know how it is when you crave a beer? That craving simply has to be satisfied.

And so it was, after a long lunch and a few glasses of a tolerable red wine, that I set off towards the nearest town, Les Andelys, 3 miles further down the Seine. Les Andelys is a delightful little town which sits on a long sweeping curve of the river and it is worth every one of the 9 miles I ultimately walked that afternoon. It is called Les Andelys because the town is divided into two distinct parts, Little Andely on the banks of the Seine and Large Andely just behind it

The ruins of a once impressive medieval castle dominate the town. These are the ruins of the famous Chateau Gaillard. This castle was designed and built by no less a personage than Richard I (Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Normandy) and it’s construction, started in 1196, was completed within 12 months. By any standards, that’s an incredible feat of engineering and construction.

So pleased was he with the finished product that Chateau Gaillard became Richard’s preferred place of residence until his death in 1199. The castle’s history didn’t end there, with it changing hands more than once during the 100 Years War, and; in 1314, Margaret of Burgundy, the 25 year old wife of the French King Louis X, was imprisoned in the castle’s lower dungeons after being convicted of adultery. Margaret was supposedly strangled to death with her own hair in 1315. Later still, in 1334, David II of Scotland was forced into exile by Edward III of England and lived almost 8 years in the castle (not in the dungeons).

When built, the castle was amongst the most advanced of it’s time but; over the years, construction methods became more sophisticated and Castle Gaillard was allowed to fall into ruin. Eventually it was deemed unsafe and large parts were dismantled by order of Henry IV of France for new construction projects.

There are two major churches in Les Andelys; the 12th century Collegiate Church of Notre Dame in Large Andeley and the 13th century Eglise de Saint Sauveur in Little Andely. I spent most of my time in Little Andely and visited just the Eglise de Saint Sauveur.

Les Andelys is a pretty place (with a great castle and a magnificent bridge) but the prettiest part by far is the Promenade de Pres (a lovely walk alongside the Seine) and the best part of my visit was having that beer I craved outside a small bar on the promenade.

I made it back to Chateau des Bouafles just as the sun was setting over the Seine…

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