Viking 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 and Army from coming up the River Seine to attack Normandy. Richard had it constructed high on a hill overlooking Les Andelys.

Richard 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's Wikipedia Page and read more about it's interesting history.

Hiking up to Château Gaillard   Map

We wound up walking through the Parc du Petit Andelys and then on to the Parc de repos 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 gone up the Chemin du Château de la Gaillard.

Remains of Château Gaillard

As you can see in this picture, it is now in ruins, as it was destroyed a number of times by the French Army.
This picture also gives you a better idea of how steep the trail was to get up there !

River Seine from Château Gaillard

This picture (taken from the ramparts of the Castle), gives you a better idea of the commanding view of the River Seine from the Castle. This picture was also taken, because it shows the Viking Spirit moored at Les Andelys.
This view is 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, we strolled about Les Andelys village, as it was a neat example of a French village. A number of small shops, pubs, and various stores offering various types of merchandise.

View 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!

Meeting Good Friends on the Cruise

Before I forget to mention, 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 I told Bernie that I used to hang out in Philadelphia 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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