Famous for its cathedral which inspired Claude Monet, Rouen still has at its heart a superb heritage which has survived the vicissitudes of history. Between walks on the quays and visits to the museum, the Norman capital has no shortage of attractions to spend a pleasant weekend. Less than an hour and a half from Paris, let yourself be tempted by Rouen, this city superbly set on the Seine ...
Rouen, a capital city
Former capital of the Duchy of Normandy, Rouen is today the prefecture of the region of the same name, as well as that of the department of Seine-Maritime.
Crossed by the Its, it extends on both sides of a loop of this river where a large port allowing to develop from the Middle Ages flourishing commercial activities, between land and sea. exceptional historical heritage and the current dynamism which the city demonstrates.
Most monuments, museums and other places to see can be found in downtown, on the right bank of the river and on the side of a hill which dominates it. And this in a relatively small area, very close to the station. We can hardly do better to make life easier for our visitors!
A prominent historic heart
Rouen has an extraordinary heritage, ranging for the most remarkable from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. Part of the historic center, which was located on the banks of the Seine, disappeared during bombing raids during World War II. But what escaped destruction remains largely significant.
In the streets are lined up half-timbered houses many dating from medieval and Renaissance times - some of which are corbelled -, mansions and other brick or stone buildings.
Do not hesitate to venture beyond the most popular historical sector, because you will discover beautiful things in “ordinary” streets, always in the city center.
Time travel around Rouen Cathedral
Old apartment buildings form a magnificent treasure in Rouen. But that's not all ! For many of the Gothic style, remarkable sites can be found almost on every street corner in the historic center.
On leaving the station, for example, you see the Joan of Arc tower, imposing cylindrical keep which is a vestige of the castle of Rouen (13th century). It was one of the sites of the trial of the Maid, who was burned alive on May 30, 1431 on the current Old Market Square. A plaque and a statue discreetly evoke this event.
Close by, here is the courthouse (16th century) and the Wholesale-Clock (14th century), a door with a splendid astronomical clock. It is one of the emblems of the city. You can visit the belfry next to it (14th-15th centuries).
At the end of the street, here is the forecourt of the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Rouen, a Roman-Gothic wonder (11th-16th centuries) sublimated by a series of paintings by Claude Many made in the 1890s. The Impressionist painted part of it since Finance office (16th century), beautiful Renaissance house which is the seat of the tourist office. Note that the bombs of World War II spared these gems, in extremis ...
The cathedral has an all-lace facade, as does theSaint-Maclou church (15th-16th centuries) which is a little further behind it. A stone's throw from this building showing a flamboyant Gothic style, rises theSaint-Maclou aître (16th-18th centuries), an old mass grave in the form of a courtyard lined with galleries with half-timbered houses decorated with macabre motifs ... It is undoubtedly the most unusual site in the city.
A little further, Saint-Ouen Abbey (14th-19th centuries), which sits on a vast square partly covered by a garden with lawns.
If you want to discover more constructions of this type, know that you will find what you are looking for in Rouen, described as "city of a hundred spiers" by Victor Hugo! For example on the other side of the city center where the Sainte-Madeleine church (18th century), in neoclassical style, faces the Seine.
Banks of the Seine designed for strolling
Long devoted to port and industrial activities, the Quays of the Seine of Rouen were transformed into walking areas with gardens, cafes, restaurants, theaters, various leisure venues ... They achieve great success as soon as a ray of sunshine appears!
The river is notably spanned by the Flaubert bridge, a work of art whose name pays homage to the author of "Madame Bovary". It is the highest lifting bridge from Europe.
Its two decks, weighing 1 tons and 300 m long, can rise to 86 m to allow ships coming from the sea to pass. For example the historic sailing ships which are assembled here during theArmada, a very spectacular event that takes place every five years.
Museums and cultural places of all kinds
The themes of the Rouen museums are very diverse.
The unmissable Museum of Fine Arts contains rich collections dating back to the 15th century, including a copious series of paintings Impressionists. It also presents beautiful temporary exhibitions.
THEHistorial Joan of Arc is located within the walls of the Archdiocese where the latter's conviction was pronounced in 1431 and where his rehabilitation trial took place in 1456. From a crypt to a watchtower, we follow the history of this historical character thanks to to a well-made audiovisual device - short sequences, quality interpretation ...
On the banks of the Seine rises the XXL Panorama, a sort of silo in which we periodically present one of the 360 ° works designed by Yadegar Asisi by mixing painting, drawing and photography (32 m high, 110 m in circumference).
See also : the astonishing Le Secq des Tournelles museum which, installed in an old church, is devoted to ironwork, the museums of Antiquities, Natural History, Ceramics, the Birthplace of Pierre Corneille, the Flaubert museum and History of medicine (Gustave's father, the writer, was an important doctor), the Maritime Fluvial and Port Museum, the National Museum of Education, contemporary art centers ... And you have others places still to visit in the Rouen metropolis!
- venues are also varied. There are in Rouen and its surroundings several theaters and cinemas, contemporary music concert halls, such as the Zénith and the 106, places dedicated to classical music such as the Corneille Chapel, or the Rouen Normandie Opera. . Ask for the program!
Find all the tips, addresses and practical information in Routard Normandie in bookstores.
Consult our Normandy online guide
Meeting of the Metropolitan Museums Rouen Normandy
Read also our article on the Armada of Rouen
How to get there ?
- Train. Rouen is accessible from Paris (1 hour 15 minutes of transport on average, Paris Saint-Lazare - Le Havre line), Amiens, Caen, Lyon, Marseille ...
Good to know: Rouen-Rive-Droite train station is located in the city center.
- Car: Rouen is 1 hour 30 minutes from Paris by the A13.
- The city center can be visited on foot, without difficulty.
- Cy'clic self-service bicycles
- Public transport. Rouen and its agglomeration have two metro lines, 27 bus lines, three bus lines with a high level of TEOR service (Transports Est Ouest Rouennais). More info on Network Tip
Or sleep ?
- Street Art Hotel: 4-6, rue Saint-Etienne-des-Tonneliers. Contemporary rooms decorated by local street artists and two mini-dormitories under the roof. Perfect for small budgets. Dorm 25 €, doubles 58 €.
- The Cardinal: 1, pl. of the Cathedral. Pile-fur in front of the cathedral. Beautiful bright and peaceful rooms. The upstairs bedrooms have a terrace overlooking the masterpiece immortalized by Monet. Good value for money. Doubles 88-145 €.
Where to eat ?
- Les Halles by D'Eux-Mêmes: 27, pl. of the Maid. Bistro address of the Eux-Mêmes restaurant. Ideal for a lunch break or evening tapas.
- La Place: 26, place du Vieux-Marché. An address supervised by Michelin-starred chef Gilles Tournadre. Market cuisine in a stylish contemporary setting. Menu € 26,90. Card 30-35 €.
Where to have a drink?
- The Beer Box: 35, rue Cauchoise. In a half-timbered house on 4 levels, a temple dedicated to hops. Rock music and Irish pub style.
- Emporium Galorium: 151, rue Beauvoisine. A bar located in a venerable half-timbered house. Electro DJs and concerts.