This département has surprises around every corner – museums, châteaux and gardens
This is Eure’s premier attraction. Come to Giverny in summer and immerse yourself in the flowers – the famous water lilies and tumbling nasturtiums. You can also walk around the artist’s house and see where he entertained friends and visitors.
Monet attracted many great painters to Giverny, so it stands to reason that this pretty village should have a wonderful Impressionist museum to get you up to speed with the history of this ground-breaking movement.
In prime position above the town of Les Andelys sits this fortress built by Richard the Lionheart, who ruled here as Duke of Normandy. Little remains of his castle but its ruins are brimming with atmosphere and have a tale or two to tell.
This half-timbered mill has a rich history – latterly as a bohemian retreat for writers and artists and as a backdrop for some of France’s best-loved films featuring stars such as Jane Birkin. Today it hosts concerts and other cultural events.
Interior designer Jacques Garcia has made this castle his home – with fabulous results. Take a tour around the extensive formal gardens and see theatres, temples, a lighthouse and an Indian palace.
Once hugely influential, the Abbaye du Bec (founded in the 11th century), is set within the half-timbered beauty of Le Bec-Hellouin, one of France’s ‘Plus Beaux Villages’. Though much of the abbey was damaged during the Revolution, some monks still live here.
Medieval movers and shakers, the Harcourt family, built a glorious château here in the 12th century. Today, its main draw is the exceptional 19th-century arboretum, packed with some remarkable trees, including metasequoia, once believed extinct.
In 2012, Bernay was added to France’s list of ‘Towns and Lands of Art and History’. With its Romanesque abbey, winding streets of medieval shop fronts and outstanding Renaissance and 18th-century architecture, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto a film set.
Built by Jacques de Nonant in the 17th century as a wedding gift for his bride, this ornate château is home to the important Fürstenberg collection of rare and ancient books. It also hosts cooking workshops of the famous Beaumesnil caramel.
Enjoy sculpture and nature in perfect harmony at this centre for contemporary art on the edge of the forest of Lyons. Stroll around the grounds to count the marbles, bronzes and mosaics by top-notch modern artists among the blooms and trees.
A ‘Plus Beau Village’ set in a beech forest, Lyons-la-Fôret was a favourite haunt of the smart set. The composer Ravel came here for inspiration, and Henry I died in its château. Among the timber-framed buildings is an 18th-century covered market.
Children will love spotting the monkeys, lorikeets and alligators in the tropical forest in the huge greenhouse. And there are trails to explore outside with pelicans, kangaroos and otters to see, plus a petting zoo.
From France Today magazine
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