Do you love exploring castles from faraway lands? Mont Orgueil is as faraway as it gets, and it’s one of our favorite castles we’ve visited of all time! Find out why!
Visiting the Channel Islands is definitely one for the bucket list, and when we visited, we were thrilled to start out our explorations on Jersey Island with a visit to Mont Orgueil Castle. It’s located on a stunning mountain overlooking the town of Gorey.
Gorey Castle not only sends a message to incoming invaders to stay away, it also welcomes locals and tourists alike. You are able to wander around all on your own, finding rooms, exhibits, and even mock up wooden dioramas depicting life in the middle ages.
We visited on a sunny July day, with crisp white clouds dotting the sky, making for some amazing photos, let alone the incredible views of the town and English Channel.
In this article:
History of Mont Orgueil Castle
Mont Orgueil Castle, or Gorey Castle, dates back to the 13th century and was built as the primary defense against French attacks.
During the middle ages, western France was ruled by the Normans who were of Norse origin who then founded the Duchy of Normandy, or modern day northern France. The French took control of most of Normandy and expelled the English, except for the Channel Islands which remained under English control.
The castle here served as the first line of defense against the French invasions in England. Over the years, it evolved with changing warfare technology and under different commanders that came and went.
Our Experience at Gorey Castle
Jim and I love a good castle, and I have to say Mont Orgueil did not disappoint. In fact, both us oohed and aahed over it for weeks afterward. On this trip, we visited lots of castles, a couple on the Channel Islands and quite of few in Southwestern England. We both agree, it was our favorite.
The castle sits high on top of the mountain overlooking the town of Gorey, and of course you can climb up to it. Thankfully, we did not. I may not have been as impressed if I started out tired, because let me tell you, there were a lot of stairs as it was.
After entering the grounds, you then climb through a gate to the main courtyard and then you can just wander through the maze of rooms and passages, meet some of the people who lived and worked there, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top.
Although there are not many objects and artifacts inside the castle, there are some really interesting artworks that fit well with the castle’s theme. Exploring inside the castle is like a little treasure hunt as you discover these different art installations.
We found the castle impressive, particularly because of its level of completeness. The fortress has passages leading in various directions, rooms with multiple entrances and stairways going up or down from a corner, making it easy to get lost within the castle.
I’m still unsure if we’ve seen every room in the castle, even after wandering around for two hours. Some of the highlights were the De Carteret Garden, the dioramas, and yes, the café.
One thing I especially enjoyed was the Wishing Well and the story behind it – wishing wells are a Celtic tradition that have continued throughout the ages.
The view from the top of the fortress was spectacular, as we could see the French coast. From this vantage point, you can observe numerous Jersey coastal beaches and the town of Gorey below.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, we loved this castle. It definitely fits our criteria for a five out of five stars, although, in true hyperbolic fashion, we’d love to give it even more stars. Why?
- It was truly a real life maze. We seemed to get lost over and over again.
- The views were beyond beautiful.
- The art pieces and exhibits were fitting and interesting.
- The bathrooms are clean and well-maintained.
- We would go back again and again!
On this trip, we weren’t with any young ones, but undoubtedly they would love it. There isn’t much to see inside the castle to make it too tedious to view the rooms, and there are many passageways, stairways, and towers to explore, making it a lot of fun. Plus, there’s a very well-equipped playground near the castle garden. Additionally, kids can dress up as a prince or princess to make the visit even more enjoyable for children.
Practical Information for Visiting Mont Orgueil Castle
Although Jersey is a small island, you can easily visit Gorey in the afternoon or early evening, regardless of where you’re staying on the island. Even without your own transportation, you can take the bus to the castle, which is beautifully lit by the sun during the afternoon and evening.
Jersey Heritage Pass
We bought the Jersey Heritage Pass right at the castle, because it definitely saves you money on entrances for all the top sights.
The ticket is valid for a year, allowing you to revisit any of the four sites you previously visited using the same ticket during your visit. This means that you can explore the castle both in the morning and afternoon, even if you visited it only once earlier.
Finding a parking spot for the castle can be a challenging task. We ended up parking on the road, which was not too far from the castle, and then walked on a level path to reach the entrance.
You can also park your car in the harbor village since there are very few spots available on the street close to the castle. The walk up to the castle from the village is pretty steep, so it’s better to park in the higher area if you can find a spot.
As I mentioned, since there will already be a lot of hiking in the castle, it’s better to save your energy. If you don’t have a car, you can take the bus which stops very close to the entrance.
Where to Eat
There is a lovely tea room located on the premises. The café serves pastries from the Vienna bakery in Saint Helier, including the iconic Jersey Wonders. We highly recommend trying their Bakewell tarts, as they are one of the best we have ever had.
Photography Tips for Mont Orgueil Castle
The castle is silhouetted against the sunrise, so it won’t be lit by the sun during the morning hours. You might see some color in the sky, but you won’t get a view of the castle being lit unless you’re on a boat. Therefore, for a great view of the castle, photograph it from Gorey in the afternoon or evening.
One of the highlights of our trip to the Channel Islands, Jim and I just can’t stop talking about Mont Orgueil Castle. It really set the bar high for the rest of the stops. We loved it, and we’re sure you will too!
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.