An introduction to Rouen !!!

Many years ago, when I started my blog, I thought of the towns as a family we like the most. It was Rouen, and I wrote a piece black and white ,that I like to update today. Of course, there are plenty of newer posts on the city in my blog. It is a must when visiting Normandy ,the history and trabulations of knowing a bit more about France are here. Its quant streets, its beautiful churches, and the museum of fine arts ,just wonderful. It is a city that I had come often ,very, even for lunch!  I will try to give a bit about it and hope you can come and enjoy it too.

Rouen is in department Seine-Maritime or No 76 in the region of Normandie. It is the seat of the bishop of the region, and the city is a Legion d’Honneur recipient of France.  The Seine river flows thru it just like Paris.  It is there since gallo roman times, and on 841 it was destroyed by Vikings raids. It was declare Capital of Normandy by chef Rollon a viking who stayed instead of invading again, and became Count of  Rouen or some historian Prince of Rouen. Later it was the favorite of king Richard the Lion Hearted, and his heart lays at the ambulatory in the Cathedral of Rouen.  French since 1209 it become part of the British empire in 1419, fighting this Joanne of Arc or Jeanne d’Arc was burnt at the stake here on May 30 1431 , and later became patron Saint of France and Doctor of the Catholic Church. The region came back to France in 1449. It went thru all the wars of succession, religion, and the 1870 war where it was the base of the Prussian forces. In WWI it serve as the base for the British soldiers; in WWII it was occupied by the Nazis from june 1940 to August 1944 when it was liberated. It was rebuilt and prosper as of today.

You get here by car on the A13 autoroute de normandie from Paris direction Rouen. Very easy, the best parking is at the vieux marché or the place St Marc both around a lovely lively markets or marché.  The trains come from Paris gare st lazare into the Rouen train station or gare rive droite at place Bernard Tissot,that you can walk about 10-15 mins into city center. No need for public transport in the city, walk it this is the best way to see its marvels. From Bretagne we go up to Rennes and then Caen on the A13 to Rouen for tolls road or at Rennes get around the rocade or beltway continue dir Caen on the A84 and by Fougéres take the N12 go around Fougéres on the D806 which becomes the D33 dir Gorron ,then D118 dir Domfront en Poiraie,then D908 dir La Ferté Macé, continue to get on the D924 dir Argentan, road changes number but stay dir Bernay and Brionne to hook up with the A13 dir Rouen.  We usually make a day run as it is just about 1h30 by car from us in Versailles, but sometime we did stayed overnight at the Mercure Champ de Mars or Ibis same complex, all ACCOR chain hotels. Which we have repeated from the Morbihan breton.

Some of  the must see in the city, and already with posts in my blog,  are the Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Rouen,Abbey Church of St Ouen, Gros Horloge or fat clock, Palais de Justice, the tourist office been the oldest renaissance building in the city from 1509, Church St Maclou, Aitre St Maclou, place du vieux marché, donjon or tower of Chateau de Rouen (where Jeanne d’Arc was prisioner) , the museum of Fine Arts ( beaux-Arts) and antiquities, museums of Jeanne d’Arc, and fat clock or gros horloge; and the many quaint medieval streets in city center along Martainville,and around the Cathedral. Wonderful indeed !!!

The Cathédrale Notre Dame de Rouen,  is a marvel, its gothic architecture inspired Claude Monet, with an arrow as high as 151 meters (498 ft), the highest in France. Stained glass of splendors but also, about 70 sculpture figures of about 20-30 meters high done between 1362-1421. The tour Saint Romain of 77 meters high (254 ft)  at the north face and the tour de Beurre of 80 meters 264 ft)  in its south face. Just a marvel inside too

The Abbey church of Saint Ouen, built from 1318 and finish in the 16C it was the power center of the abbeys of Normandy for centuries.  It is 137 meters long (452 ft) at its center nave, with a tower crown of Normandy of 87 meters high (287 ft) .

The Gros Horloge, or fat clock a landmark of Rouen ,an astronomic clock from the 14C with a solar cadran of the 16C,  located right at the rue du Gros Horloge in city center.  in its double screen you see the needle  pointing of the hour, a weekly details and the phases of the moon in its oeil de boeuf face. It has an agneau pascal or pascal lamb in its center of the arcade  representing the arms of the city symbolising commerce and wool  industry .At its right face you see  angels on a stone where one is the reverse in signal of unhappiness on the workers while the clock was built.

The Palais de Justice is the old Parliament of Normandy! architecture end of the middle ages, built from the 15C to 16C, you see a nice clock on its rear facade. Around you see the Hotel Bourgtheroulde  from the 15C now a luxury hotel at the place de la Pucelle. The Bureau de Justice is now the tourist office of the city of Rouen, built in 1509-1540 , and the tourist office since 1959.

The Church of Saint Maclou, sits in a nice city center with quaint streets all over, nice place to walk. The church was built between 1437-1517. The inside done like a sanctuary is very clear, and it house a tree or arbre  de Jesse of the 15C. The aître Saint Maclou, it goes back to 1388AD during the Black death epidemic , the parvis was converted into a necropolis. Today it house a school of Fine Arts. The Place du Vieux Marché, is the site of the burning of Jeanne d’Arc, and a center of market activity in the city today. You have around it the Church of Jeanne d’Arc built in 1979 with the stained glass of the extinct church of Saint Vincent  destroyed in 1944 bombings, and the musée de Jeanne d’Arc with the history of her life from birth at Domrémy to her death,museum open in 1953.

The Donjon tower or Chateau de Rouen where Jeanne d’Arc was kept prisioner still is well preserved. The original castle was built by Philippe Auguste in 1204 . The musée des Beaux-Arts is a wonderful building from 1877. It has about 60 rooms full of wonderful fine arts ,one of the principal museums in France. painting, tapestries, sculptures, and objects d’arts from the 14C.  Including work by Monet, Sisley, Modigliani, etc. The musée des Antiquités  is on the convent of visititation from the 17C and it is open as a museum since 1834.  A rich collection of roman object d’art and sculpture was my interest and it is wonderful.

There is a petit train or little train ride from the Cathedral from april to october for about 6,50€ with a quick visit it is a good thing to do and get an overview of the city. There is also, a wagon horse ride or caléche  from the same place from april to september and again in december for about 5€. There is also a boat ride on the river Seine and port on the “ Cavellier de la Salle II” from the port jean Ango, from june to october on wednesdays and saturdays. All these rides need to be confirm with the tourist office. There is great views over the city from the côte Sainte Catherine where the Church of Bonsecours is located.

The best marché or markets that we have enjoy over the years are at place du Vieux Marché (right around church jeanne d’arc,on tuesdays thru sundays  from 7h  to 13h30. The other been the place St Marc (closer to church St Maclouon tuesdays, fridays, saturdays ,and sundays from 6h to 18h, and Sundays to 13h30.

As far as something you may not think is here, well I did came often and a regular supporter of the Rouen Huskies ,baseball champion of France, and heavy contenders for the European championship where they have arrived second. The season starts usually late March, the field is the stade Saint Exupéry ,field or terrain Pierre Rolland, right by the hospital Charles Nicolle. The official webpage is

The city center around the Cathedral to the Gros Horloge area is full of stores for shopping including Au Printemps,and FNAC. Many wonderful things can be found as souvenirs, and local craft too many to mention. We do like malls so we shop also at the Centre Commercial St Sever, just over the Jeanne d’Arc bridge with all amenities and stores

For eating out, we have enjoy the following over the year away from the tourist center, Le Bistroquet chez Cédric, 220 rue Martainville , just by church St Maclou,no web but great mussels in chorizo, French and goood. One wish in a historical restaurant next to the Cathedral try Brasserie Paul, 1 place de la Cathédrale. A perennial favorite with my gang is Perle d’Asie, (sadly this one has closed here just for the memories my dear late wife Martine love it) chinese,thais, viet cuisine by the river Seine facing it at 2 place de la Republique. A newer find has been B’Art Tapas, (sadly this one has closed too) 35 rue Jean Lecanuet, next to the musée des Beaux-Arts,wonderful Basque and great tapas. Créperie Saint Romain, 52 Rue Saint Romain, you guess it crepes good and yummy sweet or salted, sucré ou salée in a quaint street just behind the Cathedral. And another historical one Le Metropole, 111 rue Jeanne d’Arc coming out from the gare or train station, there since 1932 and the hanging out place of Simone de Beauvoir  and Jean-Paul Sartre. Nice drinks, great views and people watching place.

The Rouen tourist office

The Seine Maritime dept 76 tourist office on Rouen

The Normandie tourist office on Rouen

Hope you have enjoy this brief tour of Rouen, there is a lot more to see and do, and a nice ride in and out. A sentimental favorite of my family in France.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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