Gaillon : Site and surrounding area
Over the centuries,
men have transformed
the site of the castle
and the surrounding area
as the fancy took them.
From the first references in the late XIIth century charters and chronicles, Gaillon is depicted as a stronghold :
"castrum Gaallonii", "inter fortelitiam Gaillonis", "castellanus Gallionis". Indeed, like its neighbour Château-Gaillard,
the site, although less precipitous, lent itself to the defensive role: a chalky spur located on the border between Normandy
and the kingdom of France, overlooking a vast open plain where the road from Paris to Rouen crossed the Seine valley.
The site was bound to play a decisive role in the struggle between the Plantagenet dynasty and the french crown.
The principal defensive modifications at Gaillon probably go back to the time of Philippe Auguste: the rocky spur was cutt off from the rest
of the plateau) by a deep ditch, while a "big tower", encircling walls and flank towers were built on the upper level.
Somewhat paroxically, it was these very qualities which led to Gaillon becoming the favorite summer residence of the
archbishops of Rouen: the castle's dominating situation which offered an incomparable panoramic view over the magnificent river landscape,
the great forest ideal for use as a hunting park, and the proximity to the roas giving rapid access to Normandy' capital city.
As time went by, recreational aspect gained in importance. Cardinal d'Amboise had a rectangular garden laid out beside the castle
that necessitated important earth-works, and built pleasant retreats in the vast hunting park, in particular a "hermitage".
Later, Charles Bourbon, archbishop from 1550 to 1590, laid out a huge garden below the firts, and made significant changes to the earlier layout.
The site in the medieval time
General plan of the site
The development of the site
The domain of Gaillon XVIIIth century