Les Andelys & Chateau Gaillard
Les Andelys is a sleepy little village 20 minutes from Le Pavillon that is home to Chateau Gaillard, King Richard The Lionheart’s medieval castle. Construction began in 1196 under the auspices of Richard the Lionheart, who was simultaneously King of England and feudal Duke of Normandy. The castle was expensive to build, but the majority of the work was done in an unusually short time. It took just two years, and at the same time the sleepy town of Petit Andely was constructed. Château Gaillard has a complex and advanced design, and uses early principles of concentric fortification; it was also one of the earliest European castles to use machicolations. The castle consists of three enclosures separated by dry moats, with a keep in the inner enclosure. Château Gaillard was captured in 1204 by the French king, Philip II, after a lengthy siege. In the mid-14th century, the castle was the residence of the exiled David II of Scotland. The castle changed hands several times in the Hundred Years’ War, but in 1449 the French captured Château Gaillard from the English for the last time, and from then on it remained in French ownership. Henry IV of France ordered the demolition of Château Gaillard in 1599; although it was in ruins at the time, it was felt to be a threat to the security of the local population. The castle ruins are listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. The inner bailey is open to the public from March to November, and the outer baileys are open all year.
20 minutes from Le Pavillon, Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, was the scene of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, convicted and then burnt at the stake in 1431 on the Place du Vieux Marché. Rouen is also the “Town with a Hundred Spires”, and over the centuries, different parts of the town blossomed with jewels of religious architecture. Rouen’s Notre-Dame Cathedral inspired Monet to paint his Cathedral series. The Church of Saint Maclou, in a beautiful setting, is also worth the visit as well as Rouen’s famous Gros Horologe. The laid out banks of the Seine are a wonderful area to take a stroll, and if it gives you an appetite, so much the better, for Rouen also has a reputation for its good tables and Michelin rated restaurants. Fans of shopping will not be disappointed, and will find that Rouen is regional shopping Mecca. Rouen is a young town, with a well-developed nightlife. It’s lively day and night!
25 minutes from Le Pavillon, Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny are like his paintings — brightly colored patches that are messy but balanced. Flowers were his brushstrokes, a bit untamed and slapdash, but part of a carefully composed design. Monet spent his last (and most creative) years cultivating his garden and his art at Giverny, the Camp David of Impressionism (1883–1926).
Visiting Giverny, there’s much to admire. All kinds of people flock to Giverny. Gardeners admire the earth-moving landscaping and layout, botanists find interesting new plants, and art lovers can see paintings they’ve long admired come to life. Fans enjoy wandering around the house where Monet spent half his life and seeing the boat he puttered around in, as well as the henhouse where his family got the eggs for their morning omelets. It’s a busy place, so come early or late.
In 1890, Monet started renovating his garden, inspired by tranquil scenes from the Japanese prints he collected. He diverted a river to form a pond, planted willows and bamboo on the shores, filled the pond with water lilies, then crossed it with a wooden footbridge. As years passed, the bridge became overgrown with wisteria. He painted it at different times of day and year, exploring different color schemes.In the last half of his life, Monet’s world shrank to encompass only Giverny. But his artistic vision expanded as he painted smaller details on bigger canvases and helped invent modern abstract art.
An Hour and a half from Le Pavillon, The 75 miles of Atlantic coast stretching from Ste-Marie-du-Mont to Ouistreham, are littered with World War II museums, monuments, cemeteries, and battle remains left in tribute to the courage of the British, Canadian, and American armies that successfully carried out the largest military operation in history: D-Day. It was on these serene beaches, at the crack of dawn on June 6, 1944, that the Allies finally gained a foothold in France, and Nazi Europe was doomed to crumble. Of notable interest, visit the American Cemetery and Museum, open daily until 5pm.
Only 40 minutes from Le Pavillon, Lisieux is world-famous thanks to Therese Martin, better known as Sainte-Thérèse-de-l’Enfant-Jésus. Lisieux is considered to be the second town of pilgrimage in France with some 700,000 visitors each year who go to see the Basilica built in her honour (the biggest church built in France in the 20th century).
Lisieux has retained many tokens of its rich past. It was the seat of a Bishopric almost from the birth of Normandy until the French Revolution. During that period the town was administered by the Bishop-Counts, who influenced the town’s architecture for centuries. The area known as the “Canonical Quarter” dates from that period, and includes the Cathedral (one of the first in the Norman Gothic style), the Episcopal Palace, the hôtel du Haut Doyenné, the Bishop’s Palace Garden and the canonical houses.
45 minutes from Le Pavillon, Honfleur offers the warm welcome of a little town. This little maritime city, which has somehow escaped the ravages of time, has managed to preserve the traces of a rich historical past, which make it one of the most visited towns in France, with its picturesque backstreets and old houses. Its international renown is partly due to the authenticity of its narrow paved streets and timber-framed house-fronts, its little shops, charming hotels and typical restaurants, but also to the variety of its monuments and the wealth of its cultural and artistic heritage.
Simultaneously fishing harbour, marina and commercial port, Honfleur has succeeded in making the most of its rich historical and artistic heritage.
Honfleur, a town of painters and Impressionism, possesses that something extra that makes it irresistible. The changing light on the Seine estuary inspired Courbet, Monet, Boudin and many others. Today dozens of galleries and artists’ studios continue to display a wide choice of classical and modern paintings.
Chateau de Versailles
45 minutes from Le Pavillon and lying in the suburbs of Paris, the Château de Versailles was the symbol of the absolute monarchy espoused by Louis XIV and royal palace from 1682 to 1789, when the monarch was forced to return to Paris. The first design of the castle was made by Philibert Le Roy and during the next two centuries there were four building enlargements and renewals, when Louis XIV reorganized the government of France and moved there, when the court was fully established on May 6th 1682. The center of the power was within the palace walls, where the government offices and the thousands of courtiers lived. By obliging the nobility to spend some time every year in Versailles, the king prevented the development of regional powers, and established the etiquette which was rendered famous and copied all around the European court. One of the significant designs within the construction has to do with the configuration and dimension of the King and Queen’s apartments: never before the Queen’s ones had been of the same size and similar, but some interesting theories try to explain why Louis XIV chose to have them built alike, with seven enfilade rooms. Kings’ lives were as predictable as a clock, but in order to keep the nobility calm, the Kings used to organize several evenings, during which they all met in order to chat, play and dance: numbed by the several divertissements, they should have been unable to seize the power. Actually, Versailles atmosphere was not sufficient to stop another force, which struck in 1789, when the French revolution began. What you see today, when entering the doors of Versailles, is what Marie Antoniette saw in her last days as Queen of France, during the last period she spent there.
Le Mont St. Michael
It is believed that Aubert, Bishop of d’Avranches, founded a sanctuary on Mont-Tombe, after 3 successive appearances by the Archangel Michael. Consecrated in 709, the church has attracted both the curious and pilgrim from all over the world ever since. After having been made into a prison from the time of the French Revolution up until the time of the Second Empire, the Abbey became the responsibility of the Historical Monuments Department in 1874. Since 1969 the Abbey has been home to a monastic community, ensuring the continuation of a spiritual presence.
Rising like a majestic fairytale castle from the bay’s silt bed and rightly called “The Wonder of the Western World“, the Mont-Saint-Michel is surrounded by a magnificent bay, which is the theatre of the greatest tidal ranges in Europe, a grandiose spectacle. Situated between the Point of Grouin (Cancale) in Brittany and the Point of Champeaux (towards Granville), in Normandy, the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is also included on the UNESCO list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites.
A place of history and legends, today’s site has been subject for thousands of years to the vagaries of natural forces whose power can be judged by the difficulties of the Bay. Today work is under way to restore to the sea its rightful place around the Mont.
Medieval Farmers Market in Le Neubourg
Just 20 minutes from Le Pavillon is the medieval market at Le Neubourg where each Wednesday locals crowd the market, choosing their fresh fruits and vegetable, regional raw-milk cheeses and just-churned golden-yellow crocks of butter, along with meats and hand-stuffed sausages from the jovial local bouchers, doling out crispy morsels of sautéed charcuterie.
It’s the kind of market where if you ask the poultry person for a quail, they’ll stick their hands in a box, there’ll be a flurry of activity within, the unsettling sound of ruffling feathers and squalking…then calm. A few seconds later, your dinner will emerge. The medival market at Le Neubourg is the real thing and has existed for hundreds of years and some of the wares are not for the squeemish.
Nowadays you’ll find vendors selling crisp frites sprinkled liberally with crystals of sel de Guérande, cheery Arabic vendors hawking frangant olive oil soaps, and rubber-booted fishermen presiding over piles of glistening mussels from nearby Brittany. This is a must-have experience while staying in Normandie!
Chateau Champ Bataille
The renowned stylist and designer Jacques Garcia has revived the Champ de Bataille by a skillful mingling of genres. The château, one of the finest 17th century estates in France, achieves its fullest expression in the restored French gardens that cover over 90 acres. The Champ de Bataille is something of a journey between the tangible and the intangible, the finite and infinite, between interiority and exteriority, and this remarkable site offers visitors an experience that goes beyond the purely physical. Jacques Garcia has succeeded in giving extraordinarily modern overtones to eternal models. The Champ de Bataille also boasts vast apartments whose rich baroque decoration bursts forth from floor to ceiling, creating a welcoming backcloth for some very fine collections. With exquisite taste guided by a love of beautiful things, Jacques Garcia has restored or replaced the furniture and fittings dispersed during the French Revolution. Definitely worth a visit!
Only 55 minutes from Le Pavillon, Paris is the capitol city of France and is home to many world famous attractions and monuments. We suggest dedicating 2 to 3 days exploring all that Paris has to offer!