WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR’S CASTLE, FALAISE, NORMANDY
Chateau Guillaume-le-Conquerant, Falaise
WHAT IS WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR’S CASTLE?
An impressive fortress on the site of the castle where William the Conqueror was born.
WHAT CAN YOU DO HERE?
You and your children can roam this mediaeval castle using high-tech gadgetry to learn about the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror and twelfth century castle-life. Younger children may need to share an iPad with you.
Before you even need to pay the entrance charge, you can wander around the grounds, watch a film about the evolution of the fortifications over the last 1000 years and see stereoscopic images through binoculars which superimpose historic impressions over what you can see today.
When we visited, we were each handed a digital tablet at reception, except my eight year old who was too young. Staff retained one of our documents as security against the devices.
As you explore the castle you can have fun pointing your iPad at targets to activate 3D viewing then by moving the tablet around the room you can see a 360º impression of how life would have been inside the castle during the 12th and 13th century. Where there is now a blank wall you might see images of contemporary furnishings or a weapons store. As you wander round, life-like projected characters also tell you more about the history of the castle.
You can access extensive areas of the castle including going up onto the roof which offers panoramic views of the area.
The castle has a calendar of special events and we happened to visit on a day when they were holding a mediaeval games workshop. The Aisling-1198 re-enactment society was on hand to teach us about and challenge us to all sorts of traditional games, including an ancient version of chess. The boys loved this and I think they would have stayed there all day, given the chance!
The same group was also running a craft section where we could make our own playing counters modelled on intricate pieces like these.
I decided I’d had enough of standing back and watching my children having all the fun so I made my own counters. My eight year old’s are the white ones and mine are the terracotta coloured ones above. I don’t think they turned out too badly for a few minutes’ endeavour, do you?
Both the games and the craft activities were free and great fun so I’d recommend looking out for their special events days if you’re considering a visit.
WHERE IS IT?
William the Conqueror’s castle is at Falaise, just over 25 miles (41 kms) south of Caen
Chateau Guillaume-le-Conquerant, 14700 Falaise
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
A family pass costs €20 (2017) including 2 adults and up to SIX children! Children under 6 go free.
We think this outing is brilliant value for money. Everyone had fun exploring the castle with the ipads and the additional free activities were a real bonus.
There’s even a place to pop your children if they haven’t been on their best behaviour during the holiday* ?.
*OK so this last ‘fact’ may not be entirely, erm, factual. Zu might have just been making a cute face at me behind some bars.
WHILE YOU’RE IN THE AREA …
Despite extensive bombing during World War II, some historic churches and architecture survived and the modern LE MÉMORIAL DES CIVILS DANS LA GUERRE near William the Conqueror’s castle sounds interesting as, unlike other musuems, it focuses on the day-to-day lives of the civilian population during the Second World War.
WHERE TO STAY NEARBY AND HOW TO TRAVEL?
Take a look at my written and video review of our Eurocamp holiday at La Vallée Parc in Houlgate, Normandy where we stayed for this trip. The parc is within walking distance of the charming Norman town of Houlgate and its golden sandy beach and within easy reach of Normandy’s cultural attractions:- The Bayeux Tapestry, Normandy Landings beaches, Arromanches circular museum, The American Cemetery, William the Conqueror’s Castle and Paleospace Dinosaur Museum, as well as super fun stuff like fossil hunting and the Bayeux Adventure!
La Vallée campsite is conveniently located for UK travellers as it’s just a short drive from the Brittany Ferries Portsmouth to Caen cruise-ferry crossing. Click the link above for my written and video review.
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