A few years ago now, I found myself driving through the French countryside with an ex-boyfriend. En route to the chalky cliffs of Étretat from Paris, you pass by many a flint built village and countless steep Norman church spires. Of course, when traversing through the French countryside, you also pass by a plethora of French Châteaux. On this occasion, we passed by the Château des Ifs of Seine-Maritime, though I did not know it at the time.
You see, I quickly snapped a photo of its sheer beauty while passing by, though, once I got home and looked through my photos, I was never able to pinpoint exactly where exactly the grand mansion was located (and could thus never decipher which Château it had been). On that trip, we also passed by the Château du Tilleul, and although both French Châteaux are closed to the general public, they can still be admired from the roadside.
The Château is to be found on the fringes of the village of Tourville-les-Ifs. A farming village by little way of tourist attractions, the charm of the Normandy settlement lies in its 19th-century Church of St Martin, the ruins of an 11th-century castle, and a 16th-century priory. Today, the population of the village hovers around 600 and you’ll pass through if you’re headed to the town of Étretat from Paris.
A brief history of Château des Ifs, Seine-Maritime
Situated in the department of Seine-Maritime in Normandy, Château des Ifs is actually one of a handful of French Châteaux with the same name, the others being located in Mayenne and Haut-Rhin. That of Normandy was originally constructed in the 17th-century, before being modified to suit more modern tastes during the 19th-century.
The fife of Ifs was first attested during the 15th-century, at a time just after the Hundred Years War. The first written attestation for the fiefdom is that of 1456, when a certain Colin Hervieu owned the Ifs estate and who passed on the land and its buildings to his descendants in the centuries which followed.
The oldest part of the castle you see today has the architecture of the early reign of Louis XIII, though no official records remain as to the exact construction of the Château. The estate then remained in the hands of the Hervieu family up until the estate was sold to Pierre Dufresne in 1859.
It was he who added to the Château two wings, thus creating the Château which you see today. Today, Château des Ifs of Seine-Maritime operates as a home for adults with disabilities. As previously mentioned, you can’t visit the Château and can only admire it from outside of its grand iron gates.
However, if you want to learn more about French Châteaux, as well as glimpse a peek inside some, then I highly recommend checking out these French DIY Châteaux blogs and YouTube channels, which showcase what its like to live and restore one of these grand buildings today! Though it may be a dream for many, you’ll likely be surprised by the sheer amount of maintenance and cost involved at keeping these grandiose buildings in good repair and still standing!