Rouen, Joanne of Arc ,and the history of France!

As on my day off, taken the winds out of my blog and given you all kinds of choices to come visit my belle France. This time will like to tell you a bit of the history of Rouen, I enjoy history, and Rouen has plenty of it. I used to come often to this city, many times even for lunch with the family or to see the Rouen Huskies, baseball champions of France !!! yes. Now I am looking into other areas, distant lands but Rouen remains very much in my top of the list of French cities.

My previous post talked more about the tourist sites that I like to visit. Here is the post with photos. https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/03/24/rouen-normand-and-jeanne-darc/

Well, here we go. Rouen is a city cross by the Seine river in the department 76 of Seine-Maritime in the region of Normandy (Normandie). After the new administrative alignment in France bringing the two Normandies low and high back together again, it was decided that Rouen will be the administrative Capital or prefecture of the region, and Caen will be the host of the regional council or political Capital. it is now part of the  metropole Rouen-Normandie ,6th in size in France and 2nd on the west. Their site on the tourism page in French is here: http://www.metropole-rouen-normandie.fr/laissez-vous-conter-la-metropole

The city of Rouen was between 911 and 1204, the capital of the duchy of Normandy and for many years always in dispute between the French and the English especially during the War of 100 years. It was on its soil that Joanne of Arc or Jeanne d’Arc was imprisoned , judge, and burned at the stake on May 30 , 1431. She is now a patron Saint of France, doctor of the Catholic Church. The city was heavily bombarded during WWII in 1944 and revive later thanks to its wonderful harbor 5th port in France. The Seine river covers 179 hectares of the city area.  In 949, the Duke of Normandy, Richard 1 known as the Fearless wins a decisive battle over a coalition of forces which included the king of France, Louis IV , Emperor Othon the Great and the Count of Flandres. A plaque commemorating this victory is at the Place de la Rougemare.  The work (invasion and conquest of England) by William the Conqueror Duke of Normandy allows the region to be the most powerful in Europe. Rouen becomes the economic and religious capital while Caen is the political capital; it is at Rouen that William the Conqueror died in 1087. It is after the burning of Jeanne d’Arc by the instigation of the Duke of Bedford and the Burgundian party majority in the city; same year a young Henri IV is crowned king of France and England in Paris before coming to Rouen where he is acclaimed by the people.  The king Henri IV takes the city of Rouen in  1449, 18 years after the death of Jeanne d’Arc and 30 years after the English occupation.

During the French revolution, in 1792 on the last days of the monarchy, several members loyal to the king are united in  Rouen and put in place all the necessary preparation for host the King and fight back. However, the always indecisive Louis XVI decides to stayed in Paris; this stopping all possibilities of an uprising to reverse the revolutionary process. Therefore, Rouen was the last chance for the monarchy to win back the monarchy.

Symbolize by a statue done by Jean-Pierre Cortot, erected in 1838, makes Rouen one of the 8 cities represented in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. During the war of 1870, Rouen is occupied by the Prussians  with 16 battalions and 16 squadrons under General Ferdinand von Bentheim. During the Great War or WWI, Rouen served as a base for the British army, and on August 2 1944 the general mobilization for the war is call for in the city. The city welcome many Belgians escaping from the Germans and the city turns out to help them out with donations, the city hall of Rouen decided to change the name of the blvd Cauchoise to blvd des Belges (or blvd of Belgians) to honor them.  Rouen was again occupied by the Nazis in WWII on June 1940 and suffered greatly the bombardments and fires practically destroying the whole of the old town between the Cathedral and the Seine river ; August 30 1944 the Nazis retreat and the city is finally liberated by the Canadians.

The city has excellent and nice train station direct with gare Saint Lazare in Paris which I have taken as well. This is the Rouen Rive Droite gare de Rouen. Also, local train transport on the Intercités Normandie lines and the TER Normandie lines.  The main SNCF rive droite info and TGV included is here: https://www.gares-sncf.com/fr/gare/frurd/rouen-rive-droite

For the TER trains here is their site in French; https://www.ter.sncf.com/normandie/gares/87411017/Rouen-Rive-Droite/pratique

There are locally two metro lines on a north south axis, three lines of TEOR bus of high level of service on a east to west axis; 33 bus lines and 4 lines of taxis, there is a park relay for cars using the public transport system with 1500 spaces for free or free upon presentation of a transport ticket.  The network running all this are ASTUCE and VTNI. Their webpages here:

https://reseau-astuce.fr/

http://www.vtni76.fr/presentation/?rub_code=8

The metro lines also cover adjacent towns such as  Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Sotteville-lés-Rouen, le Petit-Quevilly, and Le Grand-Quevilly. The bus system TEOR also reaches the towns of  Déville-lés-Rouen, Bihorel, Mont-Saint-Aignan, Darnétal, Canteleu, Notre-Dame-de-Bondeville, and Maromme.

The city tourism page is here: http://en.rouentourisme.com/

As well as the tourist section of the city of Rouen : https://www.rouen.fr/tourisme

Now the road network is extensive and for the novice can be difficult, but once in the habit it becomes easy.  The city does not have a beltway or péripherique/rocade so all traffic is around the city center and along bordering the Seine river. Some of these roads are the N338, expressway A13 (autoroute de normandie) and the bridge Gustave Flaubert. There is a link to the bridge on the A150 from Barentin; the N28 linking the A28 towards Abbeville on blvd de la Europe by the bridge  Mathilde and the tunnel de la Grand’Mare. On the west there is the A151 to Dieppe and the A28 to Le Mans and Tours, on the east the A28 and the north the A154 on the section Tourville-la-Riviére to Evreux. On our travels we have taken the A13 and A28 as well as the A150.

Some of the interesting thing of Rouen is that as well as been name a City of Arts and History of France; Stendhal called it The Athens of the Gothic style.  What can you see here, well I did a post on some of the buildings I like here, these are  The primate Cathedral of Notre Dame, gothic architecture that inspired Claude Monet to paint her on the series of  « Cathédrales ». The abbey of Saint Ouen flamboyant gothic architecture . The symbol of Rouen,(we have a painting from a local artist on it) is the Gros-Horloge or big clock astronomic with a mechanism of the 14C and a cadran of the 16C located in a building over the rue du Gros-Horloge with a renaissance arch next to the bell tower or beffroi of gothic style; just a marvelous sight always.  The current city hall  from 1800 now in the dormitory of the old abbey of Saint Ouen. The finance bureau of the Bureau des finances,built between 1509-1540 upon the request of Cardinal George d’Amboise ,the oldest renaissance building in Rouen. it is, also, known as the place where Claude Monet painted most of his 11 portraits in the series « Cathédrales ». The justice palace or courthouse of Rouen is the former building of the Parliament of Normandy.  To note the Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde in the place de la Pucelle with flamboyant gothic and renaissance styles built in the first part of the 16C and today a very nice hotel. The Saint Maclou Church a flamboyant gothic style Church built between 1437 and 1517; it has a rosary façade. The Aitre Saint Maclou is an ancient ossuary consisting of four stone and half timbered wings surrounding a square courtyard. Its history goes back to the black plague of 1348 that killed a large part of the population; the cementary around the Church Saint Maclou becoming too small. the Aitre which was then a courtyard ,was transformed into a necropolis. In 1526, a new epidemic led to the construction of three half timbered galleries.

The square that we always headed for is the place du Vieux-Marché, for the market and around it the old museum of Jeanne d’Art, the Cross at the spot of the burning, and the Church of Jeanne d’Arc (see photo below) built at the same spot of the martyrdom.  The tower of  Jeanne d’Arc that was part of the old Castle of Rouen built in 1204 by king Philippe Auguste on the ruins of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater of Rotomagus; it is on this castle that Jeanne d’Arc was imprisons and where the charges against her were given.  The Fierte Saint-Romain, attach to the Halle aux Toiles, the only renaissance style building remaining after the  bombardment of WWII. The Hôtel-Dieu hospital built in after 1127 is today the seat of department and regional government entities such as the Préfecture de la Région Normandie and Préfecture de la Seine-Maritime.  There are many more minor historical places here but so many to mention, the city is an oasis of history and architecture. One particular one that always cought my attention is the Church of Saint-Laurent , flamboyant gothic style sold during the French revolution and renovated to house the Museum of Le Secq des Tournelles where there is a nice collection of  Ironwork.

Rouen  is a model of the romantic town celebrated by Victor Hugo in his famous poem of the Autumn leaves or Les Feuilles d’Automme.  The city, also, has nearly 2000 houses in wood especially in the streets of  rue du Gros-Horloge, rue Saint-Romain, rue Damiette, rue des Faulx, rue d’Eau de Robec , the rue Martinville. The museum or musée des Beaux-Arts one of the most important in France, second only to Paris and opening in 1801 and noted as such by 1878. The museum of natural history or the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, the second in France after the one in Paris for the richness of tis collection. the museum or musée Flaubert et d’histoire de la medicine on his native house showing a collection of objects and document related to medicine and pharmacy.  The theater or Théâtre de Rouen holding up to 1350 spectators was first built between 1774 and 1776 , destroyed by a fire in 1876, a new building was built on the ruins of the old one. Partially ,destroyed during WWII bombardments of 1944 ,the new theater was built between 1952 and 1962 on rue Jeanne d’Arc.

The tourist board for the department 76 is here: https://www.seine-maritime-tourisme.com/en/

And the region of Normandy tourist board is here: http://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/normandy-tourism-1-2.html

There you go, I think I pay my respects to Rouen, a wonderful town, history, architecture and good food as the Norman hole or the trou Normand ::) A picture to me means Rouen ,Jeanne d’Arc or Joanne of Arc, or Juana de Arcos. Happy travels, and good health to all. Cheers!

Rouen

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2 Comments to “Rouen, Joanne of Arc ,and the history of France!”

  1. We used to drive past Rouen on every journey to the south of France from Calais and stopped once to walk around and see the sights. I was horrified to learn that poor Jeanne d’Arc was burnt 3 times, just in case, before her ashes were thrown into the river Seine, where there is a plaque to commemorate this evil act. We also loved the huge Clock and the old part of the city, but alas! The Cathedral was shut that day (fermeture exceptionelle) and couldn’t see Richard the Lion Heart’s eponymous heart! Must return. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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