Founded on a bend in the Seine under château Gaillard, Les Andelys developed in one of the most beautiful sites in France.
The two fishing villages of Great and Little Andelys, already an important religious centre in the Gallo-roman period, grew towards each other over the centuries to form the present town.
In a strategic position overlooking a meander of the Seine, Les Andelys were bound to arouse the envy of the French Crown, in need of a route to the sea, so between 1196 and 1198 Richard the Lionheart, Duke of Normandy as well as king of England, built Château Gaillard on a cliff to protect the Duchy and its capital, Rouen. The fortress was a veritable masterpiece of military architecture, and very advanced for its time, but it nonetheless failed to resist the attacks of the French king Philippe Auguste in 1204. Retaken by the English during the Hundred Years War, the castle was finally abandoned when developments in artillery made it obsolete.
Situated in a Natura 2000 Area, the banks of the Seine delight lovers of landscapes and flora. Whether at the foot of the chalk cliffs or on their the summits, artists walk and find their inspiration in the steps of Nicolas Poussin, born and bred in the area, while more sports-minded souls enjoy themselves to the full with climbing and hiking.
Worth a visit
- Château Gaillard : "The one-year daughter" of Richard the Lionheart is now a ruin whose stones were used to build the château de Gaillon. Nonetheless the edifice is still impressive and gives the site a certain majesty.
- Nicolas Poussin museum : Born in 1594 in a hamlet of Les Andelys, the painter known for his love of Italy is a major representative of classicism. The museum is installed in an old 17th century town house and displays collections connected with local history.
- Notre Dame Collegiate Church : The first Norman abbey was founded here in 511 by Queen Clotilde, the wife of Clovis, king of the Francs. The present church was erected between the 13th and 17th centuries.
- Saint Clotilde Fountain : According to local legend, while digging the foundations for the monastery intended by the wife of Clovis, the workmen complained of having nothing to quench their thirst in the heat, and the prayers of the Queen changed the water of an adjacent fountain into wine. Sadly, some fifteen centuries later, wine is no longer served at the fountain.
- Saint-Sauveur Church : Erected for the workers building the Château-Gaillard, the church houses one of the finest organs in France.
- Normandie-Niemen Memorial : It recounts the story of the squadron created by General de Gaulle in September 1942 to represent France on the Eastern front.
- Les Médiévales (website in French): Les Andelys mediaeval festival