France // Normandy //

Château Gaillard

The most dramatic sight anywhere along the Seine has to be Richard the Lionheart’s Château Gaillard, perched high above Les Andelys. Constructed in a position of impregnable power, it looked down over all movement on the river at the frontier of the English king’s domains. Built in less than a year (1196–97), the castle might have survived intact had Henri IV not ordered its destruction in 1603. As it is, the stout flint walls of its keep, roughly 4m thick, remain reasonably sound, and the outline of most of the rest is still clear, arranged over assorted green and chalky knolls. To reach it on foot, climb the steep path that leads off rue Richard-Coeur-de-Lion in Petit Andely.