Château de Cambiaire was built in the 14th century in the town of Saint-Étienne-Vallée-Française. It is a quadrangular building with a round tower at three of its corners and a square tower at the northwest corner. It consists of three wings around a courtyard on the west side by a battlements surrounding wall pierced by a gate. The great crenellated tower, which dungeon office, is crowned on its summit terrace of a watchtower with a roof shaped pepper shakers. This square building built shale stone mixed with white quartz is the oldest. It has three levels, the first two date from the 14th century, the last level and the spiral staircase from a raising of the late 15th century.
This tower seems more ostentatious than most military as much as the castle was never the castle of Saint-Etienne. One of the ground pavement dwelling is probably contemporary dungeon. The others are the result of rearrangements of the modern era and those of the late nineteenth century and finally repairs arising out the 1944 fire. A park of chestnut trees and cedars surrounds the castle. There is a replica of the Lourdes grotto and a chapel dating back to 1875 in neo-Gothic style.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).