Visiting Rouen France will open your eyes to exquisite gothic spires that soar above the skyline, a medieval quarter second to none filled with half-timbered houses, and intriguing museums.
Visiting Rouen France – Things to See and Do
The sights are plentiful in this often overlooked city not that far from Paris. It’s an easy hour-ish train ride from Gare St Lazare in Paris. Several are scheduled every day, so you’ll have no trouble getting there.
The Gros Horloge, pictured above, is an ornately decorated fourteenth century astronomical clock. It now serves as a gateway of sorts to the Rue du Gros-Horloge, Rouen’s main shopping street.
Rouen may be most noted as the place where Joan of Arc met her end at the hands of the English. Joan was held for a year in a tower, very near the train station, that can be visited, and where you can mount the stairs to visit where she was kept until she was executed by burning at the stake.
Naturally, given the Joan’s significance, there is a memorial to her at the spot where she was burned. Along with the memorial stands Church of Saint Joan of Arc.
The memorial and the church are found in what was once called the “Vieux-Marché”, or Old Market Square. During the time period of Joan’s execution the market was a multi-use facility.
Here you would be likely to enjoy executions, public humiliations and… a market. Today you will still find a modern market at the same location that boasts two large covered market halls selling all kinds of fresh fish, meats, cheeses, and produce.
But, the grandest site to be seen while visiting Rouen has to be its cathedral. Cathédral Notre Dame is simply stunning. Built in the gothic style, this cathedral that was built between the 12th and 16th centuries soars majestically over Rouen.
Monet so loved it that he painted it more than 20 times, I’m told. Be sure to take in the free sound-and-light show that is projected on the facade every night from mid-June (at 11pm) to late September (at 9.30pm).
Rouen also plays host to several museums that are well worth the visit. The Musée des Beaux-Arts has some great Monet canvases and you won’t feel as crowded as if you were in the Paris museums. There is also an interesting Joan of Arc Museum that chronicles her life.
Visiting Rouen France: Places to Stay
If, as I suggest, you stay in Rouen for a few days you will want to investigate a few places to stay.
We stayed at the Hotel Morand while visiting Rouen France for three nights and can recommend it… if you are looking for a clean, simple, unpretentious hotel that has oodles and oodles of history and character. We had the opportunity to speak with the young owner, and he shared with us that over the centuries the building had many different things from stable to hospital to hotel. And, who knows what else.
Located quite near the train station, the hotel is quite convenient to the town as well. Rates are quite reasonable at €77 for a double at the time of this update.
Mercure Rouen Centre Cathedrale
If your tastes run more to the updated chain hotel style, then we think that the Mercure Rouen Centre Cathédrale is a very good choice. Located further from the train station, you would probably want to get a cab, this hotel is right in the heart of things very near the cathedral. At roughly €92 a night, it’s a good value when visiting Rouen France.