Rouen – Where the Seine is the main street
Just 70 miles northwest of Paris, Rouen weaves together deeply-held traditions with a decidedly modern outlook. The capital of Normandy welcomes visitors with an inviting blend of architectural heritage, incomparable cathedrals, art, museums and – on the darker side – as the historic site where Joan of Arc was imprisoned and burned at the stake. Meandering through narrow city lanes, you feel a contemporary hum in the midst of spectacular Gothic designs and enchanting timbered houses, houses that seem to tip forward as if to claim their space above the street.. The popular port city on the Seine also shows the decades-old evidence of the pounding Rouen suffered during World War II. Where to stay
While there are so many excellent accommodations in the thriving city, you will find conveniently-located Ermitage Bouquet Hotel a comfortable choice. On a little street off the main square, the 3-star hotel offers quiet, colorful rooms,19th century charm and every modern convenience. The on-site La Marmite restaurant is excellent, and you are just a short walk from the cathedral. Cuisine a la Normandy
Dining your way through Rouen
Rouen boasts many Michelin-starred restaurants with distinct regional fare a bow to Canard a la Rouennaise on most menus, creamy fish stews, lovely local cheeses and the popular Calvados apple liqueur. Popular dining choices include:
Restaurant Gill – on the quay near Place de la Cathedral with excellent classic cooking and elegant Art Deco interior. You may want to finish your meal with the apple-sweet Calvados soufflé. A bit expensive with menus from 42 Euros per person.
Chez Nous – absolutely charming, friendly restaurant with seasonal menus of the day and traditional “formula” offerings . The warm, timbered atmosphere is as welcoming as the regional cuisine.
Les Nympheas – A tiny dining room off Place du Vieux-Marche with a lovely summer courtyard for warm days, offers fine dining with original polish.
Les Maraichers – one of the oldest on the Place du Vieux Marche, where the market gardeners sold their vegetables. A very reasonable menu bistro for 18 Euros provides local specialties and a wonderful Kir Normand aperitif. Since 1912, the Crown Pub has overlooked the Old Market Square. Named for the market gardeners who sold their vegetables in the square, The Marachers is delightfully warm, old-style bistro, a mix of old posters and family photos, decorated pitchers and aged mirrors.
Interesting sights and “hidden treasures”
Rouen Cathedral – Claude Monet’s renowned paintings featured the cathedral façade that is particularly famous for the highest spire in France and the 1876 cast iron spire. Over time, the Allied bombings and fierce storms caused significant damage, but the Gothic cathedral is still among the most beautiful in France. Some 13th-century windows are still decorated with the special cobalt blue known as “the blue from Chartres”.
Saint-Maclou Church – Just across from the cathedral, the Saint Maclou Church was rebuilt from 1437 – 1521. The finely carved 16th century doors are its most famous feature. Be sure to explore the wonderful street to the left of the church. It is filled with the colorful, half-timbered houses that are so typically Rouen, many now housing restaurants and shops.
Saint-Ouen – The Benedictine abbey where Joan of Arc was sentenced to death in 1431. It is larger than the Rouen cathedral with elegant Gothic features.
Musee des Beaux-Arts – features exceptional 15th to 20th century works of art from Rubens, Caravaggio, Poussin, Corot and an entire area devoted to the works of Gricault. Impressionist masterpieces include several of Monet’s versions of the Rouen Cathedral, and you will enjoy Modigliani’s 20th century paintings.
Fabulous Markets – The Saint-Marc Square (Sat. and Sun.) and the Emmures Square (Sat. and Tues.) host colorful open-air markets with fresh dairy and produce and regional delicacies.
“Little Venice” – Rue Eau de Robec is a charming little side street, so named by Flaubert for the small stream that runs through the archways and street. Take the time for a quiet glass of wine and explore the antique shops, located in the Saint Maclou quarter.
Finally, simply absorb the many flavors of Rouen – the riverside and orange-tinted dusk, the ancient churches and transparent skies. In fact, as much as any feature of Rouen, it is the mystical, changing light of the city that has attracted painters, writers and visitors.