Located on a rocky spur overlooking Arques-la-Bataille, the château was most likely built between 1040 and 1045 from the arches of an old 7th century bridge, by Guillaume d’Arques, William the Conqueror’s uncle.
Nowadays, the château is in ruins, and the interior is closed to the public for safety reasons, but the path carved into the rock of the counterscarp has become a favourite place for a stroll. Facing the main entrance, take the path to the right, over the ditch encircling the building.
Along the way, breathtaking vistas will unfold before you at every step. After looking out over the Calmont and Gruchet meadows to the west, your route will lead you southward, where you can see a hint of the remains of a drawbridge.
Your path will bring you back along the eastern side, where your eyes will embrace the valley formed by the confluence of the Béthune and Varenne Rivers where they form the Arques. There, you will be able to make out the village, the borrow pits and, in the background, the wooded slopes of the National Forest of Arques.
Architecture that bears witness to history
Characteristics of a fortified castle
The sheer scale of the ditch surrounding the château is truly imposing. The path along the counterscarp above the château has some very impressive sections and is a great way to identify some of the architecture’s mediaeval defences, like its square keep which is still clearly discernible today.
During the Hundred Years’ War, it played a decisive strategic role in the clashes between the French and the English. In 1589, Henri IV took refuge there after defeating the Duke of Mayenne in Arques Valley. After that event, la Bataille (“the Battle”) was added to the end of the town’s name. The château later fell into disgrace, and Louis XVI gave the residents permission to use it as a rock quarry. At one point, it was nearly razed to the ground.