Three Days Visiting Rouen

Rouen, Haute Normandie

From Belgium (Bruges) we drove to France. We made reservations to stay at Hotel Mercure Rouen Champs de Mars.   It is very clean and comfortable.  The hotel is located by the Seine River but don’t expect “wonderful views”  of the river.   In fact the Seine river along Rouen has not the wonderful constructions we are used to see in Paris.   There are some ugly buildings, a hospital and others constructions that does not have charm or character.   The beautiful  part of Rouen is the “main core”  where the Old Town is located.  So…  don’t be disappointed if you look at the map, see that your hotel is located overlooking the Seine (and in fact it is)  but the view is not  a beautiful view!

Hotel Mercure has a parking garage but it is pricey, so…  as soon as we got rid of our luggage  we went outside and found a free parking spot located at the Hotel’s sidewalk! We could even see the car from our window if we wish too (we didn’t!).  Anyway  the hotel’s garage was used by us to park our bikes for free!  They have a bike rack on the lower level and we felt safe leafing them there (of course we used heavy locks all the time).

As soon as we arrived we went by bike to the “Old Town”   (5 minutes by bike and possibly 15 minutes walking).  We were always by bike, so I can’t tell how long does it take to go by foot….   🙂

Rouen’s Old Town is BEAUTIFUL!

The first sight we visited was the Cathedral.  Amazing!  The Cathedral was being restored at that time and the main door was closed.  We entered by a side door, following a local lady.   It was amazingly to admire the grandeur and the details of its construction, specially the glass work (vitreaux).

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Rouen Cathedral is a masterpiece.

Rouen Cathedral is wonderful and it is also great to go outside and see the place where Monet stood while he was painting.  Monet  created  various paintings of the Rouen Cathedral.   One of  them, The Portal,  West facade view was painted in  1894,  and can be seen at The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.    We have been visiting this museum many times and looking to Monet’s magnificent  art work  always make us happy to be able to see such beautiful things, not only “in person”  while visiting Rouen but also while visiting  the National Gallery.


The Great Clock of Rouen.

 From the Cathedral we went walking along the charming Old Town and saw one more Rouen’s famous sights: The Great Clock of Rouen.   This clock is located at Glos Horloge Street.

The Renaissance arc is from 16th century and the arc where it is placed divides the main street of Rouen in two segments.  It is interesting to notice that there is only one hand! You can only see the hour but not the minutes!  Probably because there was no point to worry about minutes during the middle age, when everything happened in “slow motion”  and traveling from Rouen to Paris took about five days!

After more sightseeing and eating outside at a local restaurant we returned to our hotel.

I must say that it was difficult to find a place to eat because it was late (more than 2pm) so… it was not “lunch time”   anymore.   First we sat on  a place that would only offer drinks at that time (oh no! we were hungry!)  so we went to another place nearby where we were able to grab a salad and a sandwich.  Time to go back to the hotel and have some rest as  we were tired!  🙂

At night we were too tired to go out, so we went to the hotel’s bar where we drunk a couple of Heinekens and ate the salt biscuits we bought before.

 On  September 15th we went to Rouen‘s Old Town again!  We started the day visiting the Joan of Arc Church (Jeanne D’Arc in French).  The church is amazingly beautiful! Superb modern style, with wonderful stained glass work and fantastic ceilings made with curved woods!

Joan of  Arc is called “The Maid of Orleans” .

Sainte Jeanne d’Arc church was designed by Architect  Louis Arretche, in 1979.

The church was constructed in the same site where there was once the Old Market Square (Vieux-Marché).  The executions took place in the Old Market and Joan D’Arc was also executed there.

The stained glass windows  came from the Church of Saint-Sauver, from the Renaissance era.  The church of Saint-Sauver was destroyed during the Second World War.

The architect was inspired by the Old Market place when he draw this Church.   The open window façades and the curved wooden structure recalls us a market place.

Church of Saint Joan of Arc-1

The stained glass windows came from the Church of Saint-Sauver that was destroyed during the WWII

 Church of Saint Joan of Arc-2

Church of Saint Joan of Arc

Church of Saint Joan of Arc

Church of Saint Joan of Arc-4

Here is the main entrance of the Church of Saint Joan of Arc (on the right hand side)

Church of Saint Joan of Arc-5

The location where Joan of Arc was burnt on May 30 th 1431

This is a very sad place: The exact side where Jeanne D’Arc was murdered. The sign says: “Le Bucher”.

Also in French: “Emplancement où Jeanne d’ Arc fut brûlée le 30 Mai 1431”.

Church of Saint Joan of Arc-6

Before leaving we could admire the stained glasses windows from the outside

Rouen-6In front of the church there is a big square with ancient houses


Half-timbered houses in Rouen: They are simply lovely!

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Rouen modern-1

Always a good surprise to the eyes: To walk along the medieval streets and see the modern Architecture mixing with the medieval houses!

Rouen Paul Bakery-1

The blue bikes parked in front of Paul Bakery are ours.

Boulangerie-patisserie Paul is located on 35 Rue Jeanne d’Arc, Rouen.

We had breakfast here everyday!

Paul Bakery (also called Pain du Paul  ou Boulangerie-Patisserie Paul).

 This place has delicious and affordable breakfast.  Usually we went to Paul in the morning, by bike,  from the hotel.  We parked the bikes in front of Paul Bakery (locked, of course) and we went walking along the Old Town.  There are a lot of pedestrians in the Old Town and it would not be “polite”  to ride a bike around so many people.  This way, we had an excellent transport to come and go to the hotel whenever we pleased!

I highly recommend Paul (same brand we find dozens in Paris) as a place where you can have a delicious and affordable breakfast while you are visiting Rouen. They   have some tables inside and the service is courteous.

Rouen Clock-1

The Great Clock of Rouen  and…. me!

Rouen Palais de Justice-1

Plais de Justice, Rouen, Damaged during WW2

 We also walk along the Palace of Justice where we could see the attacks it suffered during the Second World War.

Rouen Palais de Justice-2Palace of Justice in Rouen and the damages suffered during the Second World War.

Rouen Palais de Justice-6

Gargoyles, Palace of Justice, Rouen, Normandy, France

Rouen Palais de Justice-5

Deep blue skies in Normandy

The wonderful 16th Century Gothic façade has been fully restored but all the holes that mark the bullets this building received during the war are present to remind people how bad the wars are.  This is one of the most important buildings in France!

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On the left of the above image you can see one of the oldest buildings in Rouen. It is a masterpiece.  The “Ecole des Beaux Arts de Rouen”  (Rouen Art School) is located in this building. It is so old that behind the arc of the entrance there is a metal net, so,  if some parts of the ceiling fall the net will  protect the head of people passing under it!

Rouen Church-1

The Church of Saint-Maclou is a Catholic Church constructed in Gothic Flamboyant style.  Unfortunately there are some days and hours when tourists are allowed to enter in the church, and  when we went there the church was closed.  We were able only to admire its exterior façades.

Rouen Half Timbered-5

Beautiful squares everywhere! Half-timbered Architecture

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After a lot of sightseeing around Rouen we were starving!  Time to have lunch!

We went to this delicious place called “Le Rocher”  that has mussels  prepared in every single way you can imagine.   Delicious!  We ate a LOT!!!

Restaurant Le Rocher Rouen

Happy face after eating as a KING!


After lunch we went to visit the Rouen Cathedral once more.  This time we had time to  read about the renovations that are going on.   We were also able to spend  more time  admiring paintings, sculptures and other Architectural details.


Rouen Cathedral

We continued walking all the way to Rouen Castle.  This is the place where one of the trials of Joan of Arc took place.

Rouen Judgment-17

“Grosse Tour”  of Rouen Castle also known as  Tour Jeanne d’Arc

From the Castle Tower we went along medieval streets to the City Hall where we admired the gardens and the beautiful building.

Rouen City Hall-1

City Hall of Rouen

After this wonderful day we stopped by a Jean-Louis David hair salon where my dear husband had his hair cut!  It was already time because the last time he had his hair hut was in Bellagio, Italy loooong time ago!!! 🙂

 So…. on the next post you will be able to see his  new haircut !  🙂

On September, 17th, 2011 we woke up early, packed our stuff inside the car (bikes included) and we drove to Paul’s Bakery.   As there is no parking place there (busiest street of town), I stayed inside the car at a garage entrance while my husband went to buy our baguettes and diet coke at Paul.   Much better to eat a delicious baguette inside the car than wait a long time (and spend a lot of money) eating breakfast at the hotel!

From Rouen we went driving to Mont Saint Michel.

Read the next post if you want to go to Mont Saint Michel with us!

If you want to see more pictures of Rouen, please visit our pictures gallery on Flickr clicking here.


About CeciliArchitect

World Traveler ~ Photographer ~ Social Media Specialist ~ Tourism Vancouver Certified Specialist ~ Independent Tour Manager and Events Coordinator ~ Blogger ~ Architect & Interior Designer (in my previous life)
This entry was posted in Blog, Europe, France, Rouen, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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