About Chateau d’Orcher
Chateau d’Orcher is a castle in the commune of Gonfreville-l’Orcher in Normandy, France. Built to protect the mouth of the River Seine, Chateau d’Orcher features an imposing square crenelated tower. Yet despite its defensive character, by the 18th century the castle had been transformed into a luxury residence and today is listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Chateau d’Orcher history
In 1360 Chateau d’Orcher was partly destroyed on the orders of officials from Harfleur. Rebuilt later, the castle was taken by the English in 1415 during the Hundred Years’ War at the same time as Harfleur. Several French sources note Henry V gave the castle to John Falstaff, the fictional Shakespearean character in several plays, although this was certainly meant to be the medieval knight, Sir John Fastolf.
In 1434, the castle and its associated possessions and privileges were given to the Duke of Bedford – a top commander of English troops during the Hundred Years’ War. Yet in 1449 the estates reverted to the Crespins and later, by legacy, went to the Brézé family in 1488 and finally to the O family in 1539.
Thomas Planterose took possession in 1735 and over the next ten years set about transforming the castle. In the 19th century, the estate became the property of the Rochechouart family who had the castle restored and a stunning garden installed.
Chateau d’Orcher today
Nowadays, the castle grounds are open to the public all year for a small entry charge and you can join a historic tour of the castle. The gardens are also a highlight, boasting an 18th century orangery built in what used to be the fortress’ moat which offers a spectacular view of the Chateau.
Or find peace and quiet in the ‘vegetable garden’ – an expanse of walled, landscaped lawn reaching out to the forest. You can also rent the castle’s grounds or rooms for fancy events.
Getting to Chateau d’Orcher
The easiest way of getting to Chateau d’Orcher is by car: follow the A131 (between Le Havre and Rouen before exiting onto the D982 from Harfleur. Harfleur also has train links to Le Havre and Paris.
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.