Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, is a City of Art and History with an important architectural and religious heritage. Nicknamed the “city of a hundred spires”, it offers visitors a wealth of places of interest, including the Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, Saint-Maclou church, a wonderful example of Flamboyant Gothic style, and the 14th-century Saint-Ouen abbey church. The Aître Saint-Maclou, a former charnel house, is a quiet and mysterious place with an internal courtyard planted with trees and timber-framed buildings with macabre decorative details.
Very picturesque, the streets of the old districts, lined with old half-timbered houses, are the perfect place for a stroll. The Damiette, Martainville, and Saint Romanesque streets are particularly rich in timber-framed houses. The Vieux-Marché square is where Joan of Arc was burned in 1431. Today, the Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc church is a very original modern building that sits in the centre of the square.
The Fine Art museum (Musée des Beaux Arts) houses collections of paintings from the 16th to 20th centuries. A ceramics museum is also open to the public.
City of Art and History, Rouen takes place in Normandy, in the department of Seine-Maritime. Sharing its status as capital of Normandy with the city of Caen, political seat, it is today the most densely populated city of the Great West.
Ancient, Rouen has especially developed in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by an important architectural heritage present throughout the old center of the city. There are narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses, picturesque and full of charm. Although it is partly due to the myth and death of Joan of Arc, this Norman commune is above all one of the most important tourist sites in the region.
Today large economic pole, Rouen attracts visitors by its antiquated charm and its historical richness that shines through much of this city with many attractions. Its proximity to Le Havre, Étretat and Honfleur and its harbor make it an excellent base for exploring a part of Normandy.
Walking through the old center of Rouen, one has the impression to pass the barrier of time and to dive in the middle of the Middle Ages.
Of Gothic style, the cathedral Notre-Dame is surely the most beautiful monument of the city of Rouen. The one that inspired a series of paintings to Claude Monet was built between the eleventh century and the fifteenth century. The second highest cathedral in the world behind Cologne, it reveals in its interior the history of the stained glass window from the 12th century to the present day, as well as the burials of several Dukes of Normandy, such as Rollon or the famous Richard Cœur de Lion. Its facade is dazzled by its 70 sculptures representing notably apostles, saints, angels or former archbishops of Rouen. On the south facade, the tower of Beurre, 80 meters high, is a fine example of flamboyant Gothic.
Another important religious building, the Abbey Saint-Ouen was once the most powerful Benedictine monastery of all Normandy. Also representative of the flamboyant and radiant Gothic, it was built between the beginning of the fourteenth century and the sixteenth century. At the beginning of the 19th century, its former dormitory became the town hall of the commune.
A jewel of the flamboyant Gothic style, the Saint-Maclou church was built between the 15th and 16th centuries. As evidenced by the Norman tradition, it reveals a tower-lantern that also serves as a bell tower. Heavyly attacked during the bombing of the Second World War, it still unveils a sacristy in the form of neo-Renaissance pastiche, notably with columns of Italian marble. Not far away is the Saint-Maclou aisle, an ancient ossuary built in the middle of the fourteenth century following an epidemic of plague. Today, part of the building hosts artistic exhibitions.
Symbol of Rouen, the Gros-Horloge is an astronomical clock dating from the fourteenth century and unveiling a dial of the sixteenth century. It takes place in a pavilion that spans the street of the same name, on a Renaissance-style arch.
Former parliament of Normandy, the palace of Justice of Rouen unveils a very beautiful Gothic style. Classified to Historic Monuments, it was started at the end of the 15th century. On the exterior façade, one can particularly admire gargoyles, or even an adjoining staircase in neo-Gothic style Champagne from the beginning of the 20th century. Heavily destroyed during the Second World War, the building saw its Gothic-Renaissance central part almost completely destroyed.
The main square of the old town of Rouen, the Old Market Square is known to have housed the place of execution of Joan of Arc by the English in the 15th century. A large cross bears witness to the exact location of the pyre. One can also see the church Jeanne-d'Arc, modern building dating from the late 1970s.
Various museums are present in the city, following the example of the recently opened Jeanne d'Arc Museum. The city also offers the second museum of natural history of France after Paris, the museum of fine arts with works of the Caravage or Monet, an antiquities museum, or the Gros-Horloge museum which retraces the history of Watchmaking.
Walking through Rouen, you will also admire the old half-timbered houses of the town, the Jeanne-d'Arc tower, a remnant of the old castle of the city, or different fountains.
Rouen organizes no fewer than thirteen markets in different districts. They run from Monday to Sunday, with an organic market on Friday and Saturday. A Christmas market is also unveiled in December.
Every year in January, the city offers its festival "Regards sur le cinéma du monde", which promotes films from Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean with screenings.
In May, Rouen is the only French city to host the Wings for Life, a running race taking place at the same time in several countries of the world.
Every five years, in June, the Great Armada takes place in the port of Rouen. It allows to admire a large gathering of giant sailing ships and warships.
Every Thursday in July, the city offers Les Terrasses du Jeudi, a series of free concerts.
Between October and November, the city hosts its famous Saint-Romain fair with many attractions.
The 10 km of Rouen, running, takes place in the city in October.