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Falaise

Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Calvados

Falaise - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Calvados
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Falaise

Falaise is a town in Calvados, in the Normandy region, 36 km south-east of Caen.

Crossed by the course of the Ante, a tributary of the Dives, its territory is located on the borders of the plain of Caen to the north, the Pays d'Auge to the north-east and Norman Switzerland.

The city developed around its castle erected in the tenth century on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river and on the site of Guibray, to the east, where a sanctuary has been established since the Merovingian era.

Falaise becomes the capital of the Duchy of Normandy at the beginning of the second millennium and the city's status is reinforced under the reign of William the Conqueror who was born there in 1027.

Once Normandy was attached to the kingdom of France in 1204, the city retained a rank of choice and until the 14th century, sessions of the Exchequer (whose missions are those of a court of justice and a court of accounts) continue to stick to them.

Gained by Henri IV during the Wars of Religion, the city was hard hit in 1944 during bombardments linked to the D-Day landings and when the Allies fought a German counter-offensive there in August (Battle of the Pocket of Falaise).

From this rich past, and despite industrial development, Falaise has retained an exceptional heritage. With around 8,500 inhabitants, it is a prime tourist destination, also offering a variety of cultural (museums) and sports leisure activities.

Things to see and do

The castle of Falaise is logically the jewel of the heritage of the former capital of Normandy.

Originally built on the model of fortified mottes with enclosures, already very famous around the year 1000, the castle as it is visible today dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, according to the plans of Henry I, last son of William the Conqueror. There is an imposing keep serving as a residence and a high courtyard forming a square plan typical of English traditions. Restored in the 1980s, the site can be visited using digital tablets that allow you to find the interiors as they were in the Middle Ages.

Open every day. Price: 4 and 8.50 euros. Information on +33 2 31 41 61 44.

Before continuing to explore the city, it should be noted that elements of the fortifications and the remains of the medieval gates are still visible.

We then focus on religious heritage such as the Saint-Gervais church, whose construction began in 1066 under the leadership of William the Conqueror. A Romanesque style inspired by the Church of the Trinity of the Abbaye-aux-Dames in Caen (south wall of the nave, lantern tower, west facade, historiated capitals) and Gothic and then Renaissance alterations are combined.

The church of Saint-Laurent (11th century, Romanesque style at the level of the nave with its schist walls arranged in fishbones, of the facade and of the portal), which was the subject of donations from Queen Mathilde, wife of Guillaume, also worth a visit. We will also mention the Notre-Dame-de-Guibray church (11th century) in the center of the old parish of Guibray (integrated into the town during the Revolution), which is a fine example of a purely Norman Romanesque style. In front of the building, a trade fair in the Assumption was held for a long time, established in the 11th century. The church also houses an organ from Parizot (18th century). Finally, this overview of the religious heritage includes the Church of the Trinity erected in the 13th century after a first building was destroyed during the siege of Philippe Auguste in 1204, before Falaise joined France. Rebuilt again after the Hundred Years War, devoid of a steeple, the church is famous for the gargoyles and sculpted figures visible on the lower right side of the nave.

The Place Guillaume-le-Conquérant with the statue of the famous child of the city, the castle of Fresnaye (17th century), beautiful mansions of the 18th century (of Saint-Léonard and des Rives), in particular, will still mark a walk in the center of town.

On the cultural side, visitors have the choice between several museums with very varied themes. The André-Lemaître museum presents some 90 paintings by this painter born in Falaise (1909-1995) famous for his paintings of still lifes, his Norman landscapes and who was influenced by Cézanne. Open every day from April to September and in December, weekends and public holidays and during school holidays in October, November and January to March. Information on +33 2 31 90 02 43.

In another register, the "Automate Avenue" museum presents the reconstruction of Parisian windows animated by automata, dating from the years 1920 to 1950. About 300 automata are on display. Open daily from April to September and in December, weekends and public holidays the rest of the year. Entrance: 6 and 8 euros. Information on +33 2 31 90 02 43.

Finally, the Memorial to Civilians in War was inaugurated in 2016. It is dedicated to the life and even the survival of civilians during World War II. The museum offers 1000 m² of exhibition, testimonies of survivors, presents documents and objects coming from the funds of the Memorial of Caen and the inhabitants of Falaise and its region. Digital tablets allow you to virtually immerse yourself in this era. Admission: 6.50 and 7.50 euros. Information on +33 2 31 06 06 45.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the Forum room hosts various shows and conferences throughout the year (program on +33 2 31 90 89 60) and that the Entr'Acte associative cinema is open to all audiences (info at +33 2 31 90 31 17).

For sports visitors and tourists, the facilities available are legion: indoor and outdoor tennis courts (book a court by joining the local club on +33 6 08 16 30 36), city stadiums (La Fontaine Couverte and Pavane sites), skate-park, vitality course (Domaine de la Fresnaye, Espace Didier Bianco)… All information on +33 2 31 41 61 53.

In addition, the Forméo aquatic center has sports pools, fun equipment (5 pentagliss lanes, counter-current river, giant 75 m slide) and a space dedicated to well-being (spas, sauna, etc.). Information on +33 2 31 41 69 00.

Finally, for hiking enthusiasts, the potential of the city and its surroundings (hedged landscapes) is just as interesting. A special mention for Mount Myrrha, a walking site including a climbing course and from which one enjoys a panoramic view of the city and its castle. Maps and information on +33 2 31 90 17 26.

Places of interest

Information points
Leisure centres
Monuments
Performance halls

Events and festivities

The second half of June, funfair.

The second weekend of August, medieval festivals including costumed parades and musical and fun entertainment.

Every Saturday morning, the weekly market in and around the listed halls allows you to appreciate the rich Norman terroir.

Visits, leisure and activities nearby

Restaurants

Bed & breakfasts

Vacation rentals

Campsites

Hotels

Your holidays
A hotel
A vacation rental
A bed & breakfast
A campsite
A leisure activity
A restaurant
A rental car
A plane ticket
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