Eure: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Eure (Normandy, France)
The Eure department of Upper-Normandy contains two of France's most loved destinations - Monet's gardens at Giverny and Richard the Lionheart's Chateau Gaillard - as well as several other interesting towns, castles and villages set in the peaceful countryside
The Eure is the more southerly of the two French departments in the 'Upper Normandy' region of northern France. It is a region of unspoiled countryside and small towns and villages.
Although the Eure department of Normandy loses out in terms of visitor numbers to the coastal departments of Normandy with their resorts, beaches and coastal scenery, there are still plenty of highlights and places to explore in Eure to make a visit worthwhile.
Due to its accessibility from Paris the department is also a popular 'long-weekend' destination with Parisians.
The Eure is popular with visitors because of its gently attractive scenery, with the quiet lanes and roads providing numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, usually either walking or cycling, and there are ample opportunities to discover the traditional Normandy countryside and architecture.
You will come across many small traditional villages in all areas of Eure (and elsewhere in Normandy), often little more than a church and a few medieval houses and too small to merit a mention in tourist guides, but very pleasant to explore despite the lack of important historic monuments!
Visits to the department fall naturally into three regions: the south-east towards Paris; the north-east towards Rouen; and the west which is closer to Le Havre and the coast (both Rouen and Le Havre are across the border in the Seine-Maritime department).
Eure south-east: Giverny and Chateau Gaillard
The south-east is the most visited part of the Eure, both because of its proximity to Paris and because the two most important attractions in the department are situated here:
Just 25 kilometres north-east of Giverny, the substantial ruins of the 12th century Chateau Gaillard, are a main attraction in the Eure.
The castle was once home to Richard the Lionheart, and stands in an imposing position above the River Seine and the pretty village of Les Andelys.
In the south-west corner of the department, the gardens at Giverny (near the town of Vernon) where the famous impressionist Monet painted many of his best known paintings are one of the most visited attractions in France.
The gardens have been meticulously preserved as they were when Monet painted them, and it is fascinating to see the waterlilies and ponds exactly as they are in the paintings. See Giverny gardens.
While here be sure to also take a stroll around Vernon itself, which has some interesting half-timbered houses and other historic monuments including a very unusual medieval mill above the river and a collegiate church.
To the south-east of Evreux the Chateau d'Ivry la Bataille is a ruined castle in an imposing position dating from the 10th-12th centuries. Another important castle close to here at Neubourg is the Chateau du Champ de Bataille, dating from the 17th century and with extensive French style gardens to enjoy.
On the southern border of the department the small town of Verneuil-sur-Avre has an interesting old town, with various historic monuments including the gothic style Eglise de la Madeleine, half-timbered houses and some grand renaissance period houses.
There is a particularly attractive village, classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France', at Lyons-la-Foret in the forested region to the north-east of the department.
A religious monuments of particular interest here in the north is the Abbey Notre-Dame of Fontaine-Guerard at Radepont.
The abbey is in the gothic style, dating from the 12th - 14th centuries, and is in a picturesque setting. Although it is partly in ruins there is a great deal of interest to see including the salle capitulaire, the dormitory and other buildings.
Despite its name the Chateau de Vascoeuil (also called the Chateau de la Forestiere) is really more of a manor house than a castle. The site combines a lovely building, attractive gardens and frequent high quality art exhibitions and we recommend a visit (see www.chateauvascoeuil.com for current details and exhibitions).
On the eastern border of the department the town of Gisors also has a small but interesting historic centre, including medieval houses and parts of an 11th century castle.
One of our favourite sights in the Eure is the extensive views across the river valley and countryside from the Côte des Deux-Amants above Amfreville-sur-les-Monts a few kilometres downstream from Les Andelys at the confluence of the rivers Andelle and Seine. The centre of the nearby town of Pont de l'Arche also has some interesting medieval buildings.
Yet another interesting castle can be seen at the Chateau d'Acquigny a little way to the south. The 16th century castle is in the renaissance style, and surrounded by lovely gardens and parkland.
A particular highlight in the western Eure is the village of Le Bec-Hellouin, just north of Brionne. The village is also classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France' and you can also see the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Bec, a substantial abbey complex dating largely from the 17th - 18th centuries.
Another highlight is the village of Harcourt with the medieval Chateau d'Harcourt, a short distance south of Le Bec-Hellouin. Although the defensive walls of this medieval castle are largely in ruins, the main building (the logis) is carefully restored.
You can also visit one of the oldest arboretums in France at the castle, officially listed in France as a 'remarkable garden'.
The historical centre of Pont-Audemer, to the west, also merits exploration. There are various rivers and canals that cross the town centre and the views of the houses along the canals are very picturesque.
Further south we recommend a trip to visit the town of Bernay to see the abbatiale church and medieval houses, followed perhaps by a visit to the attractive Chateau de Beaumesnil, an ornate 17th century castle in stone and brick that combines the renaissance and decorative Italian styles of the period.
In the far north-east of the Eure we enjoyed visiting the villages of Marais-Vernier and Vieux-Port - both are very small but pleasant to stroll around.
Cycling: The local tourist offices have established several 'voie vertes' - an excellent guide of recommended routes to explore the best of the countryside in the Eure by bike. I could only find the brochure in French but be sure to ask in the local tourist office when you visit if you are planning to bring your bike.
Gastronomy: The whole Normandy region is well known for the high quality of its local produce such as cheese and apples, cider and calvados - and many visitors make the 'gastronomic experience' an important part of a visit. Find the time to visit a local restaurant or two - and try to stop the children choosing a pizza!
Map of Eure and places nearby
See more places, tourist attractions and local markets at visiting Eure
See a list of all Eure communes.
French version: Eure (Francais)