About Chateau d’Harcourt
Chateau d’Harcourt is an impressive medieval fortification in Normandy, France.
History of the Chateau d’Harcourt
Likely dating back to the second half of the 12th century, the first stone castle was built by Robert II d’Harcourt – a companion in the crusade of Richard Lionheart. The Harcourt family were some of the most important barons in Normandy for much of the 13th and 14th centuries, and in 1338, Chateau d’Harcourt became the principal town of the seigniory of Harcourt.
The castle was important during the Hundred Years’ War and in 1418 it was claimed by the English until they were expelled by the counts of Dunois, Eu and Saint-Pol in 1449.
As the war came to a close, the domain returned to the Rieux family, then, starting from the second half of the 16th century, to the powerful Lorraine-Guise family. By the 17th century the castle was of little strategic value and it was partially abandoned.
With multiple renovations over the centuries much of the original medieval castle is no longer visible, especially as the top of the keep was levelled to bring it to the same height as the other buildings. The castle is listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Chateau d’Harcourt today
The chateau is one of the best preserved in France, and also houses France’s oldest arboretum in its grounds. The castle is open from March to November every afternoon, and for full days during high season (mid June to mid September). Visits are self-guided and there are leaflets in a variety of languages, including English. Kids will love the medieval remnants, including moat and towers – it makes a great family day out.
Getting to the Chateau d’Harcourt
Harcourt is in Normandy – it’s just under an hour south-west of Rouen by car. Public transport is pretty non-existent out to this part of the region.