Viking Cruise: Les Andelys, France
Viking River Cruise
Les Andelys, France
The Viking 'Spirit' departed Rouen at 6:30AM, so we were able to have breakfast and watch the ship depart. These river cruising ships do not require a large "shore crew", they have a few guys to handle the ropes and to insure that nothing gets snagged by the ship, the ship casts off and away we go.
Our destination today, was Les Andelys, where Richard I of England, feudal
Duke of Normandy, better known as Richard the Lionheart, constructed Château
Gaillard to block the French King (Phillip II) and Army from coming up the River Seine to attack Normandy. Richard had it constructed high on a
hill overlooking Les Andelys.
Richard the Lion Heart started construction of Château Gaillard in 1196, and it was completed in two years. This was remarkable construction speed, considering that it sits high on a hill, and everything had to be hauled up to the site, everything including; blocks of stone, cannon, other weapons for the troops stationed there, food for the troops, gun powder, etc, etc..
Château Gaillard was attacked (and seized) by Phillip II in 1204, which meant that it did not have much of a useful life for the English King. Small reward for King Richard, who thought that Normandy could remain an English possession, as long as Château Gaillard blocked the French from marching up the River Seine valley. By the end of 1204, Phiilip II had subjugated all of Normandy, Rouen took the longest to fall requiring 40 days of siege by the Army of France.
Click here to go to the Chateau Gaillard's Wikipedia Page and read more about it's interesting history.
Hiking up to Château Gaillard Map
The Viking Spirit docked along the Quai Grimoult, and as we could see the Chateau from the ship, we thought that it would be an easy hike. We wound up walking through the Parc du Petit Andelys and then on to the Parc de repos (approximately 600 meters) because we assumed that we would see a sign that identified a trail up to the Chateau. We eventually found a trail, but found out later that there was a substantially simpler walk if we had just walked up the Chemin du Château de la Gaillard.
When we departed the Chateau, we walked back to Les Andelys via the Chemin du Château de la Gaillard. This was a much simpler route, flat and it brought us into the village near the Villa Aliénor.
Remains of Château Gaillard Map
The remains of Château Gaillard in France stand as a medieval marvel, overlooking the Seine River in Les Andelys. Constructed by Richard the Lionheart in the late 12th century (1196-1198), the castle was strategically positioned to guard the Norman frontier. Despite its turbulent history, the ruins exude architectural splendor, showcasing the innovative defensive techniques of the time. Visitors can explore the well-preserved inner bailey, the keep, and remnants of the outer walls. The breathtaking panoramic views of the Seine Valley add to the allure, making Château Gaillard a compelling destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking a glimpse into medieval France.
In 1204 Philip II of France captured Château Gaillard after a siege of eight months. After isolating the fort by a double ditch, the French undermined and collapsed part of the châtelet and penetrated the main fortress through the latrines.
This picture also gives you a better idea of how steep the trail was to get up there !
Views of the River Seine from Château Gaillard Map
These pictures (taken from the ramparts of the Castle), gives you a better idea of the commanding view of the River Seine from the Castle. The view of the Seine River and the village below, were excellent.
The total cost of the Château Gaillard construction has been estimated at around £12,000 (£25,000,000 in today's monetary value), a considerable expense when you consider that Richard only spent £7,000 on castles across England during his reign as King.
Some of these views are also utilized by various Viking brochures, so it might be familiar to any of you who have any of them.
Hiking to Les Andelys from Château Gaillard
After we hiked back down the Castle trail (a 2 kilometer hike), we then strolled about Les Andelys village, as it is a neat example of a small French village. A number of small shops, pubs, and various stores offering various types of merchandise. The town's markets, boutiques, and specialty shops provide a unique shopping adventure. Explore the weekly markets featuring fresh produce, regional cheeses, and handmade crafts, where you can engage with local vendors. Les Andelys is known for its antique shops, where collectors can unearth vintage treasures. Artisanal bakeries and pastry shops showcase delectable French pastries and sweets. Additionally, boutiques in the town center offer a range of fashion, home decor, and souvenirs. Les Andelys' shopping scene reflects the essence of French provincial life, creating a memorable and immersive experience.
Since the Viking Spirit was docked less than a block from the village center, there was no urgency to our exploration of Les Andelys. So we strolled from one end of the village, to the other.
Views of Château Gaillard from the Village
As we started to walk through the village, Celeste turned around and saw what a great picture of the castle was waiting to be taken! On a clear day, the views of the Chateaux and the River Seine are incredible!
Making New Good Friends on the Cruise
Before I forget to mention it, this is a picture of some very nice people (Bernie and Joanne) who we met onboard the ship.
In an extreme example of "weird coincidence", when Bernie told me that he was born & raised in Philadelphia, I told Bernie that I used to hang out there when I was in the Navy. He asked me where, and when I told him the location, it turned out that Bernie grew up not two blocks away! In fact, he attended the same church that my good friend's family attended - just an amazing coincidence !
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