About Château de Conches-en-Ouche
The Castle or Château de Conches-en-Ouche is a ruined fortress in Normandy, France, which was largely demolished in the 16th century. Conches-en-Ouche Castle was the target of bitter fighting during the Hundred Years’ War. Taken by the English in 1364, it was recaptured by France in 1371 and changed hands several more times before being finally taken by the French in 1449.
The castle was classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture in 1886.
Château de Conches-en-Ouche history
Construction dates back to 1034 when the castle keep was built by Roger I of Tosny, a Norman nobleman who took part in the Reconquista of Iberia. Roger had gained a reputation fighting the Muslims, becoming known as Roger of Hispania. Upon the death of Robert I, then duke of Normandy, the region erupted into civil war which demanded strong fortresses such as Château de Conches-en-Ouche to reassert and maintain local control.
The castle was later captured by Philip II of France in 1199. Philip was the first king to declare himself ‘King of France’ rather than ‘king of franks’. In doing so, he made a claim to all French territory at the same time the English kings staked their control in several duchies of France, including Normandy.
The castle was resultantly a site of conflict during the Hundred Years’ War as England and France played a bitter tug of war for French land. Taken by the English in 1364, Château de Conches-en-Ouche was soon recaptured by Bertrand du Guesclin in 1371, ultimately remaining in French control after 1449.
In 1591, members of the Catholic League took refuge there during the French Wars of Religion after the Reformation. Seen as a potential base for enemies of the monarchy, Château de Conches-en-Ouche was demolished soon afterwards.
Château de Conches-en-Ouche today
Today, what remains of Château de Conches-en-Ouche is the impressive donjon or keep which was built in 1363 with walls 2.6 metres thick and towering 3 storeys from a motte over the surrounding landscape. The outer enclosure of the castle can be freely visited while the buildings are also used as a library and town hall. Due to falling stones, the inner part of the castle is blocked off.
The small public park – the castle grounds – is the perfect place to take a picnic in the sun before wandering around the sleepy French town.
Getting to Château de Conches-en-Ouche
The easiest way to reach Château de Conches-en-Ouche is by car. From Rouen, take the D840 via Le Neubourg for an hour or so before reaching the town of Conches. There is car parking across the Avenue du Bosc Tenney, a 3 minute walk to the castle. The Conches train station also links to Paris Saint-Lazare and Serquigny.
As one of the great historic regions of France, Normandy is bursting with a number of stunning castles with equally compelling histories to match. Here's our pick of 10 of the best.