Rouen Tourist Attractions

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Rouen lies northwest of Paris on the lower Seine, some 130km/80mi above its mouth. The ancient capital of Normandy, it is now chief town of the Haute-Normandie region, the see of an archbishop, France's largest river port and one of its largest seaports, situated at the highest point on the river navigable by seagoing vessels. It is also a major center of the cotton industry.

In spite of the heavy destruction it suffered during the Second World War, Rouen is still one of the great tourist centers of northern France, with magnificent Gothic churches and richly stocked museums which fully justify its style of "museum city" (ville musée).

Place du Vieux Marché

The old marketplace and center of Rouen is the Place du Vieux Marché, surrounded by handsome old houses. In 1979 new buildings were erected to the east and north, which include the Market (Les Halles), the Galerie du Souvenir (with an exhibition portraying the square's history) and a church.

Ste Jeanne d'Arc

The church of Ste-Jeanne-d'Arc (inside which can be seen a 16th C. window from the church of St-Vincent which was destroyed during the last war) and a large cross bear memory to Jeanne d'Arc, who was burned at the stake here on May 30 1431. Excavations have revealed fragments of the church of St-Sauveur, which was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Musée Jeanne d'Arc

On the south side of the square stands the Musée Jeanne d'Arc, with wax figures portraying her life and work.
Address: 33 place du Vieux Marché, F-76000 Rouen, France

Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde

To the south of the Place du Marché stands the Hotêl de Bourgtheroulde, a splendid mansion built between 1486 and 1531 for Guillaume Le Roux, with a beautiiful courtyard and fine relief ornament.

Rue du Gros Horloge

From the southeast corner of the Place du Vieux Marché Rue du Gros Horloge leads to the Cathedral. Half way along it passes through the Tour du Gros-Horloge, a defensive tower built in 1389-98 (clock dates from 1889), adjoining which is a Renaissance pavilion.

Palais de Justice

The Palais de Justice (at the end of the pedestrian zone, a little to the north of the Gros Horloge) is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Once the meeting-place of the Parlement (Exhiquier) of Normandie, it was built by Roulland Le Roux in 1508-1509, badly damaged in 1944 and subsequently restored.

Address: 36 rue aux juifs, F-76000 Rouen, France

Rouen Cathedral

The Rouen Cathedral is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in France. It is the subject of a series of famous paintings by Monet, who painted the cathedral in different lighting situations.

Eglise St Maclou

East of the cathedral, stands the Late Gothic church of St-Maclou (1437-1521), with a high tower over the crossing added in 1868. On the twin-towered west front with its magnificent porch are two doors with fine wood carvings of Biblical scenes, probably by Jean Goujon.

Just north of the church, at 184-186 Rue Martainville, is the Aître St-Maclou, a medieval charnel-house, with fine wooden galleried buildings (16th-17th C.) round the courtyard.

St Ouen

The church of St-Ouen is an outstanding example of Late Gothic architecture. The main structure was built between 1318 and 1339; the west doorway and the two towers date from 1846-1851. Over the crossing is a magnificent tower, the pinnacled topmost section of which (1490-1515) is known as the "Crown of Normandy". In the south transept can be seen the Portail des Marmouses, with representations of the Death and Assumption of the Virgin.

In the harmoniously proportioned interior (134 m/440ft long, 26 m/85ft wide - 42 m/138ft wide in the transept - and 32.5 m/107ft high) are 135 windows, some with 15th and 16th C. stained glass, a beautiful choir screen (1738-1747) and a famous organ in an organ-loft of 1630.

On the Place du Général du Gaulle, with an equestrian statue of Napoleon I (1865) stands the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), and behind it are the old abbey gardens, now a municipal park.

Fierte St Romain

To the south of the Cathedral, extending to the banks of the Seine, is a district of modern flats. The only remnant of the old town here is the Fierte St Roman (near the old market halls), a unique Renaissance building of 1542.

Bridges

There are fine views of the Rouen riverside quays and the towers and spires of the city from the Seine bridges, rebuilt after the last war, e.g. from the Pont Corneille, which cuts across the tip of the Ile Lacroix, and particularly from the Pont Boïeldieu at the end of Rue Grand-Pont. There are also excellent views from the left bank of the river.

St Romain

The richly decorated church of St-Romain (17th-18th C.) lies to the east of the Gare Rive Droite (railroad station). West of the station stands the neo-Romanesque church of St-Gervais (1868-1876), with a fourth C. crypt, a relic of an earlier church, under the choir. The site was formerly occupied by a priory in which William the Conqueror died in 1087.

Rue Jeanne d'Arc

Rue Jeanne-d'Arc was driven through the old town in 1860, and today provides the main link road between the north and south of the city. In Rue du Donjon, a small side road, stands the the Tour Jeanne d'Arc, all that remains of a castle built by Philippe Auguste in 1207. In this tower Joan of Arc was brought before her judges and tortured in 1431. To the west of Rue Jeanne-d'Arc is the 16th C. church of St-Patrice, with fine stained glass (1538-1625). Gustave Flaubert was born in the Hôtel-Dieu, in the west of the city, which now houses the Musée Flaubert and also a Museum of Medical History.

Côte Ste Catherine

From the hill in the east of Rouen known as Côte Ste Catherine there is a fine view of Rouen and the Seine.

Jardin des Plantes

Jardin des Plantes is well maintained gardens containing a variety of garden plants, including irises and Hybrid Tea roses, along with several greenhouses of tender plants.

Museums

In a former monastery is the Musée des Antiquités, with a collection of religious sculpture, architectural elements, tombstones, goldsmith's work and ancient mosaics, displayed in the Gothic cloister and adjoining rooms. The Musée d'Histoire Naturelle, de Préhistoire et d'Ethnographie displays interesting zoological, mineralogical, palaeontological, ethnographic and prehistoric collections.

Musée des Beaux-Arts

On the east side of the tree-planted Square Verdrel is the Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the finest provincial museums in France, with a notable collection of 16th to 20th C. pictures, including works by David, Rubens, Veronese, Caravaggio, Ribera, Velázquez, Clouet, Poussin, Fragonard, Ingres, Géricault, Delacroix, Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Dufy, Duchamp, Soulage and Dubuffet.

Address: Esplanade Marcel-Duchamp, F-76000 Rouen, France

Wrought Ironworks Museum

In the old Gothic church of St-Laurent is the Musée Le Secq de Tournelles, with a unique collection of wrought-iron work, including grilles, signs, doors, locks and clocks. Nearby stands the Gothic church of St-Godard (15th C.), with magnificent stained glass, including a "Tree of Jesus" in the Lady Chapel.

Musée de le Céramique

The Musée de le Céramique, housed in the former Hôtel d'Hocqueville (1657), has one Europe's richest collections of ceramics.
Address: Hôtel d'Hocqueville, 1 rue Faucon, F-76000 Rouen, France

Musée Flaubert

This museum contains a display of 17th to 19th C medical equipment.
Address: 51 rue de Lecat, F-76000 Rouen, France

Surroundings

6km/4mi west of Rouen is Gustave Flaubert's house at Croisset, now a museum.
The well-signposted "Route des Abbayes" leads between Rouen and Le Havre, running parallel to the Seine for much of the way. The ever changing landscape and the many interesting old buildings such as the abbeys of Jumièges and St Wandrille make this journey well worthwhile.
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