Château de Gisors la Barbacane and Governor's Tower ML VittoriChâteau de Gisors la Barbacane and Governor's Tower ML Vittori
©Château de Gisors la Barbacane and Governor's Tower ML Vittori
The fortified castle of Gisors

Legendary fortress

The fortified castle of Gisors, a must-see in Normandy’s medieval history. A defensive military fortress built as early as 1097, during the reign of Guillaume le Conquérant’s second son, Gisors castle marks a major page in the medieval history of Normandy. This fortification was designed to protect the Norman possessions of the King of England from the designs of the King of France. A veritable frontier and Eastern lock of Normandy, it was part of a vast campaign of fortifications in the Epte valley, the natural boundary between the two kingdoms.


The Templar Treasure

At Gisors castle

In the early 14th century, the fortress of Gisors was transformed into a prison. Knights of the Knights Templar would have stayed there, coming in turn to protect it, before, under French rule, some of them became its prisoners: grand master Jacques de Molay, Hugues de Pairaud and several order preceptors. Legend has it that the Templars hid a treasure there.

In the early 60s, journalist and author Gérard de Sède hired a man named Roger Lhomoy as his gardener. Lhomoy, a former tourist guide at Gisors castle, claims to have discovered a secret room 30 by 9 meters, and 5 meters high, hidden in the dungeon. The two men went to the château and claimed to have seen nineteen stone sarcophagi. André Malraux, then Minister of Culture, ordered an excavation of the château. Despite three months of excavation, the search was unsuccessful. Others tried clandestinely, without success and at the risk of destabilizing the building. The mystery and legend surrounding this too-well-hidden treasure continue to fascinate…

Genesis of the legend

In the early 1960s, Gérard de Sède, journalist and author, hires a man named Roger Lhomoy as his gardener. The latter, a former guide and guard at the Château de Gisors, claims to have discovered in 1946, after several years of clandestine excavation, a gallery followed by a chapel, which he describes with confounding accuracy: under this 30m-long, 9m-wide, approximately 4.50m-high chapel, he claims to have seen 19 stone sarcophagi 2m long and 60cm wide and 30 precious metal chests, arranged in columns of 10 under the nave of this chapel.

As early as 1960, curator Pierre Bourdil, the town council and Beaux-Arts dispatched a team of archaeologists. In 1961, and again in 1962, the year of the publication of the book Les Templiers sont parmi nous, by Gérard de Sède, excavations were again carried out, without success. The publication of this book unleashes passions and further clandestine excavations, endangering the stability of the edifice. The press and television take up the Gisors affair, to the point that under popular pressure, André Malraux, Minister of Culture, sends the 5th Military Engineers from Rouen to once again undertake excavations in the feudal motte, equally unsuccessful and catastrophic for the stability of the keep.

To this day, only traces of a passage to Gisors castle by Richard de Hastings, Toestes de Saint Omer and Robert de Pirou, three knights of the Order of the Temple, have been established. Nevertheless, the legend continues to fascinate young and old alike.

Gérard de Sède and Roger Lhomoy tell ...
Gérard de Sède and Roger Lhomoy tell ...
Archive de 1962, interview de Gérard de Sède et Roger Lhomoy

The grounds of Château de Gisors

Free access all year round

All year round with free access, visit the park of the fortified castle of Gisors, built under the aegis of William the Red, second son of William the Conqueror.

Within its 800 m-long enclosure, discover the castle’s donjon and enclosure, built on an impressive artificial motte castrale 30 m high and 70 m in circumference.

The Barbacane is the castle’s forecourt located at the northeast corner of the castral enclosure. Access to the château used to be via the Barbacane, a defensive structure through which access is gained to the passage du Monarque, where the tourist office is located. The Barbican is surrounded by curtain walls, the tour du Gouverneur and the imposing circular keep built by Philippe Auguste, known as the tour du Prisonnier.

From the park, you overlook the town of Gisors, with a view of its medieval houses and its splendidchurch, also open to free visits.

All year round, you’ll enjoy, like all Gisorsians, strolling around this vast park of 3 hectares. In summer, you’ll enjoy the shade of its large, century-old trees to cool off, or take a picnic break on one of the tables at the bannetons, from where you’ll overlook the château.

Discover the castle

Book a guided or escorted tour

The tourist office organizes guided tours and guided tours of the various parts of the site and its interiors from April to the end of the All Saints’ vacation.

These tours provide access to the keep (except for children under 6), the cellars beneath the feudal motte, and a visit to the Prisoner’s Tower, where you’ll discover the exceptional graffiti, carved into the stone inside this tower.

Guided tours led by guide-conférenciers as passionate as they are passionate. They are offered every Saturday afternoon, as well as Wednesday afternoons during school vacations and Sunday mornings during the summer vacations. Lasting 2 hours and including visits to different parts of the site, these tours offer an in-depth look at the history of the château and its buildings.

Accompanied visits give you access to these same sites, without the services of our guide-conférenciers.