Tuesday, July 21st ~ Rouen, France
I knew nothing about Rouen, and it has never been on my radar screen or wish list. What a glorious and wonderful surprise she turned out to be!
First of all, where is Rouen? This charming city is located in the northern part of France. It is roughly an hour and a half drive North of Paris.
Our day started at 9:00 with a 2+ hour walking tour through the city. Our guide, Barbara, was animated and truly superb. She kept us interested and engaged with her witty dialog, and filled our heads with tidbits of history as we traveled down cobble stone streets. Our walk was level today, unlike yesterday when we hiked up the hill to visit the castle.
There are several things that Rouen is known for including being the capital of the Normandy region of France, Church of Saint-Maciou, the timber buildings, Gros Horloge which is an astronomical clock, Joan of Arc, where Monet did more of his famous paintings (an entire series of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen in various lights), and of course the Cathedral itself. And one must not forget the macaroons!
Church of Saint-Maciou is one of the best examples of the Flamboyant (or decorative) style of Gothic Architecture. This style was popular from 1350 until the early 16th century.
The old timber-framed or half-timbered homes, are another characteristic part of Rouen. A half-timbered building has a wooden frame that is exposed. The space between the timbers is filled in with brick, stone or plaster which is more common here.
Here are a couple more examples of half-timbered homes:
Charming shops where you can pick up pastries, macaroons, antiques, stylish clothing, or ceramic dishes can be found throughout the town.
The Rouen Cathedral has been immortalized in a series of paintings, most notably by Monet. He stayed in this small shop over looking the main entrance to the Catholic Cathedral where he painted over 30 images with a variety of lighting changes. He chose the best 20 images for a showing in Paris.
This is an example of just one of the series. It currently hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris.
More of the front of the cathedral:
And more pictures both inside and outside of this beautiful church:
The Gros Horloge (Astronomical Clock) is from the 14th century.
Joan of Arc was charged and burned at the stake here in Rouen. She is considered a hero and patron saint of France. A very modern church has been built here in her honor, with a cross at the actual location where she was burned alive.
Upon first inspection, the design of this church seems so out-of-place when compared to the rest of the city. However, after having an explanation of the meaning behind the design, and seeing the interior my initial shock has subsided, at least a little.
It reminded me of how Gaudi’s designs in Barcelona were difficult for me to comprehend, and then finally, when I walked into his masterpiece, Sagrada Familia, I GOT IT. Well, I can’t say quite the same here, but maybe it will grow on me…
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for having been introduced to this beautiful, charming town in Northern France. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and highly recommend adding it to your travel plans if you are coming to France.
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