Now used for vacations and holidays in Normandy this magnificent fortified Norman chateau at Neuilly la Foret, in the Cotentin peninsula of Normandy in France, was originally constructed between 1074 and 1077. It wEntrance to the chateau built by the half brother of William the Conqueroras built by the half brother of William the Conqueror (aka William the Bastard), Odon de Conteville, then Bishop of Bayeux. More details of Odon’s turbulent life are provided on a separate page.
During this period, a chateau built in stone (as opposed to earthworks and timber) indicates financial, military and political power. This would be the manifestation of great freedom and power given by William the Conqueror to his half brother. From then onwards it became the main seat of residence for the bishops of Bayeux.
During the Hundred Year War the Chateau de Neuilly la Foret enters history, playing an important part in the defence of the French Kingdom but was captured and occupied by the English in 1418. An English garrison was resident until 1449. Many important historical characters (like the French king Louis XI) have resided in the chateau.
Due to wars, revolution and the passing of time, only a third of the original Norman chateau remains. Now used for holidays much evidence of its former glory can still be seen. Indeed having stood for nearly a thousand years, with history permeating every stone, the chateau is a very special place for holidays - particularly if you let your imagination run free.
This listed building is full of character and maintains many of its original architectural features, with stone walls and floors, beams in all the rooms, a monumental fireplace in the huge living room and massive stone walls with arches. It has 4 double bedrooms (1 extremely large) comfortably sleeping up to 11 people. More children could be accommodated with extra cots. All in all it provides a superb base for people taking holidays in Normandy, France.
Grounds and gardens
The chateau is situated in a very quiet and secluded location and is surrounded by 1.5 Hectares of sweeping landscaped parkland and orchards that lead onto the main courtyard. A walled lawn garden is also accessible from the Kitchen and is a perfect place for outside lunch/dinner with a stunning view on the marsh. The garden also serves as a place to play badminton and croquet.
The main courtyard is laid with cobblestones and leads to a 13th century Chapel (which is not yet renovated). Last year it was home to a nest of owls - just one of the species of birds to be found in the grounds. Within the garden are several fruit trees including apple, pear and plum which will ensure good pickings for those taking autumn breaks at the chateau. No doubt holiday makers will need to compete with the rich local bird life for the fruit. The garden also contains a mill pond fed by a stream from the River l’Elle and two wells (which are both secured).
The River l’Elle borders the grounds of the property and during winter produces fantastic views over the flooded marsh. The river supports a wealth of fish, not only coarse fish but also salmon and trout. People wishing to fish can use the rods and tackle from the chateau but will need to buy licences from the local shops. (These require a passport photograph)
The grounds of the chateau have a rich population of birds - not just garden birds but storks, herons, grouse, pheasants, hawks, buzzards and other raptors. Much of this wildlife can be seen during a walk around the grounds. Benches around the grounds allow a rest from walking and an opportunity, if one is quiet enough, to see these species close to hand.