From one castle to the next... Les Andelys lies in one of the loveliest settings along the Seine and is dominated by the impressive ruins of Château-Gaillard which overlooks the valley. Carefully following the walking tour map from the tourist office, I began my visit along the Seine. Les Andelys has had several bridges and this one, a suspension bridge, is the most recent. It was built in 1948 and replaces the bridge that was blown up in 1940 by resistance fighters to delay the advance of the German army. The town is actually made up of two communes, le Petit Andely and le Grand Andely. I didn’t make it to the latter but a stroll along the Seine offers a great selection of charming, old timber frame houses that seem as if they’ve not changed for centuries. This one in particular is called La Chaîne d’Or which used to shelter the offices where taxes were collected from the riverboats that passed through the town. This source of income was enforced through the use of a large chain running across the Seine that stopped any boats. This is the Hôpital St-Jacques and during the 13th century it was a stopping place for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. In 1785 the present building was erected and it now serves as a day hospital and senior citizens home. In the Middle Ages, the Gambon river ran through le Grand and le Petit Andely and provided the raw power for several mills in the area. During violent storms or when the snow was melting, the flow of the Gambon increased and often overflowed its banks destroying everything in its path. In the 17th century, King Louis XIV ordered that a dam be built and the residents to build a canal. This canal called le Grand Rang (more like a fast flowing stream), is now the main waterway running through the town. In the center of the town is the Saint-Sauveur Church. It was started in 1220 and ended a hundred years later. Unfortunately, it was closed during lunchtime and of course, that is when I wanted to visit. I’m sure the interior is something to see but all I could admire were the flying buttresses framing the upper windows, the slate spire and the wooden porch supported by a stone base on the western side dating from the 15th century. The most impressive attraction that Les Andelys offers is the Château-Gaillard, erected in record time between 1196 and 1198 by Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Normandy, in order to protect Normandy from the ambitions of the king of France, Philip II Augustus. It had a reputation of being an impregnable fortress; nevertheless it fell into the French king’s hands in 1204 after a seven month siege. To throw out brigands and thieves who were living here in later years, Henri IV and later Louis XIII organized the dismantling of the castle. Richelieu had it torn down stone by stone until it was only a third of its original height. Much of the outer curtain wall is no longer standing but there are still quite a few towers and casemates to be seen. In any direction from nearly every corner of the château are countless spectacular views over the Seine and the valley below. Since I didn’t have time to walk around the part of town called le Grand Andely, I drove there in order to quickly visit the Collégiale Notre-Dame des Andelys which was built in 1225 on the ruins of an abbey founded in 511 by Ste-Clotilde, wife of Clovis I. Construction and improvements continued until the late 17th century, and major restorations were carried out in 1860. The façade is of the 13th century and the tympanum features stories from the life of the Virgin. The north gate was built during the time of King Henry II in Renaissance style. It once had a central tower and spire but these were destroyed during World War II and were never rebuilt. The stained glass windows are exceptional and were executed largely by master glassmakers of the 15th century. The windows of the south aisle are dated 1540 and those at the top of the nave from 1560. The beautifully carved organ case is from 1573 and depicts biblical scenes, as well as mythological imagery. Inside the transept and one of the side chapels are two paintings from 1612 by Quentin Varin—this one is called the Martyrdom of Saint Clair. In the south aisle below the tower is a 16th century set of statues depicting the Entombment.