Tucked away in the bosom of Normandy, the delightful town of Evreux is a tranquil French postcard. It is located just a hop, skip, and a jump (or a 2 hour car ride, if you prefer) from the chaos of Paris, making it a wonderful day trip from the big city.
This hidden gem is the kind of place where time slows down, and the air is thick with the scent of history. The town of Evreux is famous for dating back to the days of ancient Gaul, and the name Évreux originates from the Gallic tribe of the Eburovices.
The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar is known to have been in the area. Over the centuries, Evreux has weathered a number of conquests. Today it is a quiet little town, living in its own little rhythm.
So let’s have a look at what there is to see and do in Evreux, shall we? Allons-y!
In late Antiquity dating back to the 4BC, the town was named Mediolanum Aulercorum, “the central town of the Aulerci” by the Gallic tribe inhabiting the area.
Julius Caesar and his army swept through here, courtesy of the Iton river, leaving plenty of ruins behind for modern day archeologists.
Around the 10th century, Evreux became part of the Duchy of Normandy. With a certain Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror becoming King of England in 1066, the stage was set for Evreux to be on the front lines of the wars between France and England.
It was also an important Jewish center for learning in the Middle ages. Multiple wars of religion however would take their toll. Évreux was also heavily damaged during WWII, and most of its centre was rebuilt. Its cathedral survived, as did the town’s spirit, but much of the town’s architecture is new and modern.
Things to do
1. Notre-Dame Cathedral of Évreux
The crowning jewel of Evreux is undeniably the Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Évreux. It is a Gothic masterpiece whose construction began in the 12th century.
It is the seat of the Bishop of Evreux founded by the 4th century Saint Taurinus. That tradition claims that he set out for Gaul in the company of Saint Denis, who founded the Church of Paris.
Construction of the cathedral continued for many centuries, and a bishop’s palace was added to the cathedral in the 15th century on the south side of the cathedral.
The stained glass windows were destroyed during World War II but were restored in 1953.
2. Museum of Art, History and Archeology
Just across from the cathedral is Evreux’s Museum of Art, History and Archeology. The museum is free to enter and contains many exhibits from the city’s long history.
From ancient relics dating back to Roman times to medieval artifacts , the museum showcases the craftsmanship those from a bygone era. If you have some time, a visit to the Museum of Evreux is a must.
One of the loveliest places to go for a walk in Evreux is along the old ramparts.
There are large signs along the walk explaining the history of the city and what the city resembled then. And of course there are the swans, which are quite a delight for both the young and old.
4. Saint-Taurin Church of Évreux
The Saint-Taurin church was part of a former Benedictine monastery located in the city. According to legend, the tomb of Saint Taurin was discovered here in the 6th century.
The church was founded by Richard I of Normandy known as “Richard Without Fear”, around 950.
The belfry of Evreux rises above the town, a symbol of civic pride and architectural elegance.
Standing tall in the town center, this imposing structure dates back to the 15th century and serves as a visual anchor, dominating the skyline. For security reasons, the building is usually closed to the public although guided tours are available on certain occasions.
6. Market days
Market day in Evreux town center is every Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., though there are several smaller markets on other days. The town square transforms into a bustling tableau of stalls, offering a variety of fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and regional delicacies like cider and crêpes.
How to get to Evreux?
It takes a little over 1 hour to get to Evreux by car from Paris, and about the same amount of time by train. SNCF Trains leave from Paris-Gare Saint-Lazare direct to Evreux, with several trains leaving throughout the day.
How easy is it getting around?
The town center of Evreux is quite flat and modern since much of it was reconstructed after WWII. As such it is quite easy to get around and explore. There are several parking lots sprinkled all over town, but with narrow streets, you are better off walking if you are able.
When is the best time to visit?
Evreux is famous for its Rock festival which takes place every year in the last weekend of June. Thousands of people descend upon the city, so if rock music is your thing, this is when you will want to visit.
The town is also famous for its Christmas fair held in the 1st week of December, known as the Fair St Nicolas.
How many days should you spend?
If you are coming from Paris, a day trip is probably enough to explore Evreux. However, you may want to stay in Evreux and then travel on to Rouen which is about 1 hour away, and the rest of Normandy.
Where should you stay?
There are not a lot of options for hotels in Evreux, but a couple of great choices are:
If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read more about Ile-de-France. A bientôt!