Évreux is the capital town of the department of Eure in Haute Normandie, North West France. One of the oldest towns in France, it is known as the Episcopal City as it has two important monuments – the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Episcopal Palace. Évreux is situated in the valley of the River Iton which runs through the heart of the city and there are several footpaths along the riverbanks which offer a pleasant environment for walking and to explore the area. There are roughly 50,000 residents who are known in French as Ébroïciens.
Geographically located halfway between Paris and the Channel, Évreux has a rich historical inheritance. Originally part of the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis, the current name of Évreux originates from the Gallic tribe of Eburovices and settlement was first recorded in the 4th Century.
The first members of the family of counts who ruled the area were descended from the illegitimate son of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. With the death of Count William in 1118, the county passed to Agnes, William’s sister, wife of Simon de Montfort-l’Amaury. The title was ceded to King Philip Augustus in 1200 and in 1307 the countship of Évreux was raised to a peerage. In 1404 the countships of Évreux, Champagne and Brie were bestowed on King Charles VI of France. Louis Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne was the most famous holder of the title.
In the Middle Ages, Évreux was one of the centres of Jewish learning and its scholars are quoted in the medieval notes of the Talmud called the Tosafot. Several Jewish academics lived in the town including Samuel ben Shneor who was known as the ‘Prince of Évreux’ being a much loved rabbi amongst his followers.
Évreux has had a dramatic history from being ransacked by the Vandals in the 5th century, pillaged by Normans in 892, burnt to the ground by Henry 1 of England in 1119 and captured by Philip Augustus of France in 1194. The city alternated between English and French control until the 15th century. Évreux was badly damaged during air raids of World War II (when the city burnt for a week) and most of its centre was rebuilt. In 1967 the nearby Évreux-Fauville Air Base was used by the US Air Force and then the French Air Force.
Notre-Dame d’ Évreux Cathedral was consecrated in 1076 having been built over several centuries. It is an imposing Cathedral which was damaged at the end of the 12th century and again during the wars of religion. It suffered once more during World War II and so it has undergone significant rebuilding over the centuries with each period leaving its mark. An architectural jewel, the west façade and its two towers are mostly from the late Renaissance period and the octagonal central tower with an elegant spire constructed by the Bishop of Évreux, dates from the 15th century. There are also very pretty cloisters surrounding the Cathedral. The Lady Chapel is remarkable for its finely preserved stained glass (it is particularly famous for its bright yellow glass), the two rose windows in the transepts and the carved wooden screens in the side chapels which are masterpieces of 16th century workmanship. The stained glass was destroyed during World War II but was carefully restored by Jean-Jacques Grüber in 1953.
The 15th century Bishop’s Palace houses the Évreux Museum which adjoins the south side of the cathedral. The museum has many different collections including archaeological artefacts, medieval art, furniture and 19th century and contemporary paintings. It faces the Hôtel de Ville and has a unique clock tower called The Belfry which stands in the town hall square near a decorative fountain and several medieval half-timbered buildings.
At Le Vieil-Évreux, the Gallo-Roman archaeological site of Gisacum which is 3½ miles southeast of the town, remains of a Roman theatre, a palace, baths and an aqueduct have been discovered as well as several relics including the bronze Jupiter Stator which are now exhibited in the Évreux Museum. Gisacum was founded 2000 years ago covering 250 hectares and was an exceptional city for its size and wealth of its monuments. There is an interpretive centre at the site which is both educational and an enjoyable place to walk.
The church of the former 12th century Abbey of Saint Taurin built mostly from the Romanesque period contains the shrine of the saint as well as interesting baptism fonts and beautiful stained glass windows. This religious monument is well worth a visit to study the different styles of architecture used during its construction and the craftsmanship of French goldsmiths’ work.
There are several gardens and parks within the commune including the delightful Francois Mitterand Park, the Harcourt Park and the gardens of the Domaine de Trangis which is an area of 18 acres used for relaxation and walking. Locally, the rose gardens of the nearby Château de Miserey (9 km) are a joy to visit and the Monet gardens at Giverny are about 30 kms from Évreux. There are several hiking trails throughout 130 km of forest, fields and picturesque countryside, details of which can be found from the Ramblers Association (Fédération Francaise de la Randonnée Pédestre) at the Office de Tourisme which can also organise cycling tours.
Évreux market is held in the town centre in Place Clemenceau each Wednesday and Saturday morning.
Accommodation & Restaurants
Whether you are based in the town itself or the surrounding countryside, the Grand Évreux offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes. Like many regions of France, Normandy is no exception when it comes to local gastronomic cuisine and many of the restaurants in Évreux offer specialities sourced locally.
The 18th Century Chateau d’Emalleville is set in a 16 hectare park next to a castle with an orchard and the most beautiful gardens. It is 9 km from Évreux and offers visitors a very French atmosphere with a mixture of ancient and contemporary design. Each room is individually decorated with exposed beams and period-style furniture. Breakfast is served in an elegant dining room overlooking the garden.
Chateau Corneille offers accommodation with friendly staff and rooms with a view over the gardens. The Corneille’s restaurant, La Closerie, is housed in the chateau’s old stables and serves traditional cuisine made from local ingredients. When the weather is good, visitors can dine on the terrace.
The Normandy Hotel is a fine example of traditional Norman architecture in the centre of Evreux. There is an excellent restaurant with a bar which is a popular place to meet friends and family before choosing from a menu full of local dishes.
The Mercure Evreux Palais des Congres is a modern hotel which is situated 200 metres from the Sports Centre and Convention Centre and is therefore a convenient location for business meetings, conferences and leisure activities. The restaurant “Les Berges de l’Iton” is open at lunchtime and evenings every day of the year and offers a great regional menu including Mercure fine wine.
La Vieille Gabelle is a typically French restaurant in one of the older buildings in Évreux. There are several small, family run hotels in the town and plenty of jolly bistros where visitors can dine without spending a fortune. Self-catering gites and B & Bs are of a high standard and can accommodate families with children as well as offering good value for business executives. There are also several camping sites in the vicinity with good facilities for motor-homes, caravans and tented accommodation.
By rail: The train station of Gare d’Evreux-Normandie is on the line from Gare Saint-Lazare to Cherbourg and it has regular Intercity and regional rail services to both Paris and Basse-Normandie.
By air: The closest international airports are in Paris.
By car: Autoroutes go to Rouen and from there take the N154 to Evreux.
Office de Tourisme de l’Agglomération et du Pays d’Evreux
1 ter place du Général de Gaulle Evreux 27000 – Normandie – France
Tél. 00 33 (0)2 32 24 04 43 fax : 00 33 (0)2 32 31 28 45