About Falaise Castle
Falaise Castle is a fortress located in the south of the commune of Falaise in Normandy, France. William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born at an earlier castle on the same site in about 1028. It has been protected as a monument historique since 1840.
Falaise Castle history
The first stone castle at this site, was built somewhere between 962 and 1020, perhaps by Richard I of Normandy but more likely by his son Richard II, Duke of Normandy. Around 1028, Richard II’s grandson, William, was born in this castle as an illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy. This William, nicknamed ‘the Bastard’, would become the first Norman king of England, following his conquest of England in 1066 and would hence be known as William the Conqueror.
The iteration of the castle that remains today was erected in 1123 by Henry I of England on the remains of its predecessor. The main castle consists of 3 keeps. The oldest is the large quadrangular Norman keep was built by Henry I. The second one is the small quadrangular keep which was built against the west wall of the large keep during the reign of Henry II of England in the 2nd part of the 12th century. The third and youngest is the large round tower built by Philip II of France in the 13th century, after he had taken the Duchy of Normandy for France.
During the Hundred Years’ War, between 1337 and 1453, Falaise Castle changed hands several times. During an English occupation, the round keep was repaired by an English commander called Talbot. Since then that keep was called the Talbot Tower.
In January 1590 the castle was besieged by the troops of Henry IV of France. After that, the castle lost its military importance and fell into decline.
The castle was abandoned in the 17th century after which it fell to ruin. .
In the 1870’s the keeps of Falaise Castle were restored by the architect Victor Ruprich-Robert, a follower of the famous Viollet-le-Duc. In August 1944 the walls of the castle enclosure were damaged during the Battle of the Falaise Pocket, but the keeps escaped unscathed.
Falaise Castle today
Between 1987 and 1997 the keeps of Falaise Castle were again restored. A controversial reconstruction of the front section of the large keep was built out of concrete and steel. The architect was later fined.
The castle now operates as a museum for visitors with tablets containing extensive information about the castle and its history.
Getting to Falaise Castle
The castle is located in the middle of Falaise town. To reach the castle by car from Caen or Le Mans, take the National N158, exit at exit 11 and follow Boulevard des Bercagnes. If coming from Lisieux, follow the D511 then Boulevard des Bercagnes. The car park is located at the foot of the ramparts on Boulevard des Bercagnes.
The entrance to the castle is on Place Guillaume le Conquérant next to Falaise town hall, 100 meters from the car park.
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.