Rouen, France also called Roman Town, is a traditional French city that has retained all its history as it has grown. The city offers many historical sites as well as magnificent cathedrals and cafés and shopping for everyone’s taste. The old city center has many half-timbered houses that date back centuries.
The Rouen Cathedral dates to the 11th century and has one of the tallest spires in France at over 490 feet. Inside the cathedral, the sanctuaries are beautiful with many tombs of early Norman Dukes and stone statues of great Saints. The cathedral has many stained-glass windows and the elaborate façade with its many spires. Claude Monet came here to have the Normandy life, and he had a workshop close to the cathedral. The cathedral was an inspiration to him as he painted it at different times during of the day to capture its light.
The Aître Saint-Maclou is a medieval building in Rouen that was once a burial ground at the time of the “Black Death” plague that killed many of the cities inhabitants back in 1348. There is now a beautiful courtyard in the center of these buildings. The building has carvings of objects of funeral rites like skulls, crossbones, and gravedigger tools. It was eerily quiet courtyard on the hot summer day I was there.
There is a stone carved arch in the center of Rouen that is an astrological clock tower. Tour du Gros-Horloge (Big Clock Tower) is still used as a timekeeping function of the city. Another Renaissance façade building in the center of the city is the Palace of Justice which houses the Rouen Law Courts.
One of the more famous historical figures from Rouen is Joan of Arc. In 1431 Joan of Arc was incarcerated, then executed and burned on the cross for being found guilty of heresy. On the site that she was executed, a modern church was erected for Joan of Arc. The shape of the churches roof is to represent the flames of the stake. The stained-glass windows inside are breathtaking. The glass was amassed from the war and reused inside the church for the remnants of the Church of Saint Vincent.
Rouen has the oldest pub in France, La Couronne. This is a famous pub and restaurant that Julia Child would visit while she was in France. Rouen is a discovered gem with many significant historical sites as well as shopping, great outside cafés, and pubs. This is a great small city to people watch and enjoy the French way of life.
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