Gisors has a long history as a major military fortress between the Norman Vexin and the French Vexin. From the end 11th century, an imposing mound made of earth and stone, consolidated by internal wooden trunks is build by William the Conqueror second son. Above this mound, a first fortification called “shirt” (chemise) and a large wooden tower are erected.
In the 12th century, the dynasty of the Plantagenêts will beautify the area by powerful fortifications. The main stone elements appeared. The castle has a long outer courtyard over 800 meters, in the center of which are the mound and a massive octagonal stone keep. Large walls are built, brighten up with watchtowers of multiple forms, still visible on the site. Those are quadrangular billed tower, “U” form tower, circular towers at several levels of archers.
From the 13th century, the French Kings, will conquer Gisors by sweat and bloodand increase the castle by building monumental towers. The prisoner tower is high at the end of the plateau. This is a round circular centrepiece at three levels.
During the hundred years war, the castle became a key fortress, high stakes between British and French parties. In the middle 15th century, the castle after a siege of three weeks, will be even a time occupied by the proud English. Then taken by the King of France, the fortress will suffer profound reshuffle which are going to enable it to adapt themselves to the evolution of the artillery and to get modernized. It is surrounded by hearth hillock, new fortification against the canons and musket assault. A bastion like spade ace is performed on the set (with underground room and bunker). A false-Bray is built on one part of the fortification : it is a covered gallery that allowed soldiers of the castle to protect themselves from attacks. The castle became royal residence with the construction of the common in the outer courtyard and even a stately home which still remains the cellar (located under the flowerbed, facing the entrance from the square Blanmont)
In 1605, Sully decides the dismantling of Gisors’s catsle, like the French military sites, Gisors has not strategic interest anymore as many feudal castles in 17th century. One part of the common is destroyed, some building become Gisors bailiwick prisons. The Royal residence even falls in ruins : the stones are stolen. At the French Revolution the castle becomes public.
Currently, it still the emblematic monument in Gisors. On site, on free visit or in guided tour, you can browse the monumental enclosure, see the watchtowers and the prisoner tower. Outside the castle, you will cross the dry moat, called “banneton”. This shady walk between watchtower and hearth hillock will allow you to see the diverse military construction.
Inside the castle, outer courtyard, becoming public garden in which are the moat and its vestige, also invites you to walk in the shade of its hundred year old trees. From its extremity, you can admire the medieval houses of the town, located below the fortified plateau.
Terms of access to the monument
The park of the castle is freely accessible and free of charge from 9 am to 5 pm from November to March and until 7:30 pm from April to October.
Closures of the castle : annual closure in December and on public holidays (no guided tours but access to the park maintained). Closed the 3rd weekend of May (no guided tours, no access to the park), closed last weekend of August (no guided tours, no access to the park). It is important to notice that exceptional unforeseen closure may happened : bad weather, exceptional work… Of course we do our best to limit those kind of closures. However you can contact us by phone + 33 2 32 27 60 63 before coming to confirm guided tours.
Conditions of guided tours :
Duration of visit : 1 hour
Prices : full price 5 € / reduced price 4 € (children between 6 and 17 years old, disabled persons, job seekers) / free entrance for children under 6 years old (access not permitted to the donjon)
Guided tours schedules: from October to March from Monday to Saturday guided tour of the castle at 10 am, 2 pm, 3.15 pm (guided tour in english) and at 4.30 pm
Closed on public holidays and on December
From April to September : from Monday to Sunday guided tours of the castle at 10 am, 2 pm, 3.15 pm (guided tour in english) and at 6.15 pm