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17th-century covered market
17th-century covered market
Lyons-la-Forêt is located in France
Location within Normandy region
Lyons-la-Forêt is located in Normandy
Coordinates: 49°24′01″N 1°28′37″E / 49.4003°N 1.4769°E / 49.4003; 1.4769Coordinates: 49°24′01″N 1°28′37″E / 49.4003°N 1.4769°E / 49.4003; 1.4769
Country France
Region Normandy
Department Eure
Arrondissement Les Andelys
Canton Romilly-sur-Andelle
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Thierry Plouvier
Area1 26.99 km2 (10.42 sq mi)
Population (2012)2 744
 • Density 28/km2 (71/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 27377 /27480
Elevation 67–178 m (220–584 ft)
(avg. 163 m or 535 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Lyons-la-Forêt is a commune in the Eure department in Haute Normandie in north-western France.

Because of its architecture which has been maintained as it was at the beginning of the 17th century, it is also a well-known landmark within the very distinct geophysical and geocultural entity that is the end of Vexin normand and the forest of Lyons around the town is the border with Pays de Bray known for its traditional bocage landscape of woods, orchards and cattle economy.


Lyons-la-Forêt[1] is located 34 km (21 mi) from Rouen and 28 km (17 mi) from Gisors. Former name: Saint-Denis-en-Lyons.

Lyons was originally the name of the forest < Licontio-/Ligontio-, based probably on the Celtic root lic/lig, that is to find also in the name of the stream running here: la Lieure < Licoris /Ligoris. Same root as the River Loire < Liger and -ley in Beverley (Yorkshire) from Celtic *bibro- *licos > Old English beofor beaver, *licc stream.


An early mention of a ducal residence in Lyons can be found in 936, when William I, Duke of Normandy used to stay here.

The castle of Lyons-la-Forêt was constructed at the start of the 12th century by Henry I of England, also known as "Henri Beauclerc".[2] He died there in 1135, supposedly from "a surfeit of lampreys".[3]

The town and the castle were occupied by King Philip II Augustus of France in 1193 but the following year, Richard I of England, back from captivity, obtained the restitution of Lyons; the king of England and duke of Normandy resided frequently here until 1198. In 1202 Philip II Augustus conquered back the city, and after him several French kings sojourned here, attracted by the Lyons forest and the good hunting grounds.

From 1359 to 1398 the castellan domain of Lyons was part of Blanche de Navarre's dower after she became widow of king Philip VI of France. In 1403-1422 it was the dower of Isabeau de Bavière, wife of king Charles. In 1419, in the course of the Hundred Years' War, the English took Lyons.[4]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1793 1,650 —    
1800 1,674 +1.5%
1806 1,754 +4.8%
1821 1,660 −5.4%
1831 1,650 −0.6%
1836 1,608 −2.5%
1841 1,524 −5.2%
1846 1,538 +0.9%
1851 1,609 +4.6%
1856 1,441 −10.4%
1861 1,443 +0.1%
1866 1,391 −3.6%
1872 1,370 −1.5%
1876 1,323 −3.4%
1881 1,269 −4.1%
1886 1,260 −0.7%
1891 1,223 −2.9%
1896 1,185 −3.1%
1901 1,157 −2.4%
1906 1,042 −9.9%
1911 1,000 −4.0%
1921 931 −6.9%
1926 856 −8.1%
1931 818 −4.4%
1936 792 −3.2%
1946 878 +10.9%
1954 781 −11.0%
1962 749 −4.1%
1968 880 +17.5%
1975 772 −12.3%
1982 734 −4.9%
1990 701 −4.5%
1999 795 +13.4%
2008 754 −5.2%
2012 744 −1.3%



  • Gallo-Roman theatre (private property)
  • Castle of Henry I of England (private property)
  • Covered market place (18th century)
  • Church Saint-Denis (12th and 18th centuries)
  • Town hall (17th century)
  • Houses built in typical Normandy style (17th and 18th centuries)
  • The forest is 10,700 hectares, the largest state forest in Normandy and one of the largest Beech forests in Europe. It is renowned for the "cathedral-like" straightness and height of its trees' trunks. One of its characteristics is its having so many open spaces and clearings among which lie small villages and hamlets. This makes a transition between the Vexin plateau and the Andelle valley.[5]


  • Henry I of England died on 1 December 1135 of food poisoning from eating "a surfeit of lampreys" (of which he was excessively fond) at Lyons-la-Forêt (then Saint-Denis-en-Lyons). The mucus and serum of several lamprey species, including the Caspian lamprey (Caspiomyzon wagneri), river lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis and L. planeri), and sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), are known to be toxic, and require thorough cleaning before cooking and consumption.[6][7]
  • Lyons-la-Forêt was the birthplace of Enguerrand de Marigny (1260–1315), chamberlain and minister of Philip IV the Fair.
  • It was also the birthplace of Isaac de Benserade, French poet (1612–1691), who was one of the first intellectuals in France to evoke female homosexuality in a theater play.
  • Maurice Ravel stayed in Lyons many times from 1917 to 1922. He wrote music including Le tombeau de Couperin in Le Fresne, one of the old mansions of Lyons-la-Forêt.[8]
  • Monique de La Bruchollerie (1915 – 1972),the classical concert pianist, lived there all her life with her family.
  • Gérard Souzay (1918 – 2004), the French baritone, lived there for a while during the Second World War, at la Fontaineresse, on the banks of the Lieure.
  • Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879 – 1933) was a renowned French designer of furniture and interiors. His house is described in several publications concerning his life and work.
  • The artist Paul-Émile Pissarro (the youngest son of Camille Pissarro) lived here for some years from 1922, when he bought a house and had the garden designed by his godfather, Claude Monet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The city of Lyon, in France too, is sometimes written Lyons in English as well, but the writing and the pronunciation of /s/ is the result of a confusion with Lyons-la-Forêt. Lyon does not share the same etymology and is a former Lugdunu(m) that evolved step by step into Lyon.
  2. ^ Ministry of Culture: Château fort (in French)
  3. ^ Judith A. Green Henry I: King of England and Duke of Normandy, Cambridge University Press
  4. ^ Site listing the communes of France.
  5. ^ Lyons Tourism office.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Lampetra fluviatilis" in FishBase. September 2012 version. (citing Bristow, Pamela (30 April 1992). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fishes. London: Chancellor Press. ISBN 9781851521364. ).
  7. ^ Deshpande, S. S. (29 Aug 2002). Handbook of Food Toxicology. CRC Press. p. 695. ISBN 978-0824707606. 
  8. ^ info site on the Pays de Bray. Archived 2008-11-12 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]