About Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle
Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle is a partially-ruined 11th century French fortress in Normandy, France. The castle was besieged twice during the Hundred Years’ War. Today, the picturesque castle is open to the public and since 1840 has been listed as a Monument Historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle history
The Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle was built between the 11th and 12th centuries in Normandy. In this period, the Normans invaded and conquered England, establishing the Angevin Empire of England and much of France. The Duchy of Normandy was the most powerful duchy of Western Europe around the 11th century, imposing feudal rule that allowed dukes to collect taxes, raise armies and arm knights, as well as building castles.
Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle was built by Godefroy d’Harcourt, Baron of St. Sauveur, as a fortified enceinte, consisting of wall towers and curtain walls that enclosed the massive keep. The castle was besieged twice during the Hundred Years’ War: a series of conflicts between the Plantagenets and Lancasters of England and the House of Valois, over the ability to rule France.
The war was characterised by the height of Christian chivalry and its decline, as well as the strengthening of both French and English national identities. During the conflict, the castle’s owner Godefroy conspired against the King of Valois to support the English King Edward III. When he died, he left his lands and the castle to Edward, after which the castle was occupied by the English for 19 years. It was retaken by the French in 1450.
In 1691, King Louis XIV turned the castle into a home for the elderly, which was destroyed in 1996, the castle having suffered bombardments in 1944 during World War Two.
Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle today
The remains consist of a set of fortified walls with towers and its massive stone keep, available to visit during the summer. Walk through the great archway gate into the secure folds of the curtain walls. There are some descriptive information boards outside the castle. You can sit on the green courtyard to have a picnic in the sunshine, admiring the strength and resilience of a castle which has stood for a millennia.
Getting to Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle
If driving via the N13 from the nearest large town, Caen, it takes 1 hour and a half to reach Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte Castle. The nearest train station is Cherbourg, a 34 minute drive away.
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.