Thursday, August 6, 2015

The climb to Château Gaillard! Our afternoon, continued! 6/21/15

After our crêpes for lunch, and then our pastry demo, and of course tasting, we arrived in Les Andelys.  It was about 4:00 pm at this time.  While it sounds like a full day, and it was, it was a well paced day.  It seemed like so long ago that we were at Monet's Gardens, yet it was just a few hours ago!  And now, here we were in a different town, ready to do something completely different!  

As I mentioned, we had the option of a leisurely walking tour of the town, or a steep uphill walk to the ruins of the castle of Richard the Lionheart. We were going to the castle! Absolutely!  Not only for the promised amazing views, but if you've ever read any of my past trip reports, you know I have a thing for ruins!

So, the ruins of the castle don't look all that far away, or all that high up on the hill right?  

From this perspective, not bad!  Keep in mind though that there's a reason that castles were up on the hills! So people couldn't just walk right up to them and attack!  

But before we get to the's a nice picture of the front of the ship.  See how we really get right up to the bank of the river! 

And there you have the Captain himself out there tying our ship so we don't just float away. The Captain was always out and about during the journey.  Very friendly, very hands on and accessible.

Since we were right in the town, there were no buses to board here, we just met up with our groups and started our walk.

And of course, you are always welcome to stay on board, or do your own thing.  If you wanted to go off on your own into town or arrange your own sightseeing - that's fine too.  Just be sure to be back on board at the "All Aboard" time that's posted!  

Yup, that's our goal...walking up to that!

Our guide for the afternoon was terrific. Actually, every guide we had was great.  But this one brought the castle, and the history to life.  It's so important, especially when you visit a ruin to hear the stories behind what went on there and she did a fantastic job! Also, just as important for everyone in our group, she knew just how to pace the steep uphill walk; when to take little story breaks and just where the shaded spots were to take those breaks.

The higher up we went, the more beautiful the views were.

We were almost there, and you could start to really envision the fortress that this once was.

To me, this was the perfect picture of what river cruising was all about.  Just look at the river, our ship and that town below!  And then, just imagine what it was like all those years ago when this castle was used as a fortress?  Amazing right?

We spent about 15 minutes at the top of the "hill" before climbing the last bit and going up to the ruins, just taking in the views from every direction.  It was so worth the climb!

The Castle almost looks small in this picture, but once we got up there, there was so much more to see!

After everyone had caught their breath and taken their pictures, we walked up the rest of the way and started to see the other pieces of the ruins.  The other walls of the fortress.  Our guide started to tell us of the stories of when it was built, and then how it was conquered.  

Can you imagine these stone ruins looking like the pictures she has in her hand?  

This type of thing may not be for everyone, but I was hanging on to every word she said!  And as she was talking, Carol and I realized we know so little about this era and about French history!  It was then that Carol started her list of topics to research when we got home.  First on the list was Richard the Lionheart!  That list grew to be pretty long! 

I loved that she had these artist's drawings of what was left as compared to what was thought to have been there originally.  It really put everything into perspective.

And then we made our way back down to Les Andelys...which for most was an easier trip.  Although I did hear some people say it was harder on their knees to go down the steep road than up.  But once we were back, we had a few minutes to walk around the town.

Always a church in European towns....always!

Most of the areas we visited had the same type of architecture.  The timbered, wooded Normandy buildings.

We were back on board by 7:00 pm and once again sailing, enjoying those wonderful panoramic windows as the world passes by!

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