RouenThe capital of Normandy and the Seine-Maritime department, opens its doors and its heart to you. The "City of a hundred bell towers", dear to Victor Hugo, has kept an exceptional heritage, a real invitation to stroll in its historic center entirely pedestrian. In the streets, museums and monuments, famous people will come to meet you: Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc, Pierre Corneille or Gustave Flaubert. Travel in a city of art and history.

In Rouen, a plunge into Gothic art

Strolling through the streets animated by the facades of half-timbered houses, you will discover architectural treasures, wonders of the Gothic period. First of all, of course, the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Situated in the heart of the city, enclosing the rue du Gros-Horloge, it bears witness to the evolution of Gothic art from the middle of the 12th century to the beginning of the 16th century. The construction of the building was undertaken on the site of the Romanesque cathedral whose crypt has been preserved. It was completed a hundred years later, and was then frequently remodelled for completion in the following centuries. In the 19th century, the pretty lantern tower was given a cast-iron spire that rises to a height of 151 metres, a spire that Flaubert hated and which he described as "an extravagant attempt by some crazy boilermaker"! This did not prevent the writer from being inspired by some of the cathedral's stained-glass windows to write The Legend of Saint Julien the Hospitaller? In the ambulatory, the cathedral houses some of the tombs of the former Dukes of Normandy, such as those of Rollon, the founder of the duchy, and Richard the Lionheart, who asked that his heart be placed in the crypt. The entire history of the stained glass window from the 12th century to the present day can also be read inside. An unmissable monument in Rouen, known throughout the world thanks to the twenty or so cathedrals painted by the illustrious Claude Monet, father of Impressionism.

Then on to the Abbey of Saint-Ouen, another Gothic masterpiece built between the 14th and 16th centuries. All that remains of the abbey itself is a wing of its cloister; the present town hall, which leans against it, having been built in the former monks' dormitory of this abbey. Its proportions are imposing: 137 metres long and 26 metres wide (including 11 metres for the central vessel). This church, often confused with the cathedral, deserves to be seen from the gardens of the town hall and not from the General-de-Gaulle square, from where the façade is not the most successful (this façade was rebuilt in 1830 and it has never received unanimous approval...). The present church is the fifth rebuilt on the same site. It is the work of the abbot Jean Roussel who started its construction in 1318. At his death, it is already half erected. However, his successors will be much slower. In fact, it took them no less than three centuries to complete the building! It is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture, but its masterpiece is inside: it is the organ built by the great organ builder Cavaillé-Coll in 1890, still in use today.

Thechurch of Saint-Maclou and the courthouse are the other Gothic jewels of the city that must be seen

History always, with Renaissance wonders

Then, we jump back in time to marvel at the city's superb Renaissance buildings. The Big Clock is today one of the most striking symbols of Rouen. It is a remarkable building, which goes beyond the "simple" clock and which was in turn city hall and belfry. Upon entering, visitors enter a veritable time machine and discover, for a moment, in a room between the two dials, the other side of the decor. The dial shows the mythological figures of the days of the week as well as the moon and its phases. In the central medallion, high reliefs represent Christ the shepherd in the middle of a flock of sheep. At the top of the roof, three ears of corn bear the sun, the moon and the coat of arms of Rouen. Symbol of communal liberties, the Big Clock was intended to contain the bells and the clock mechanism that regulated the life of the city

Then we won't forget to take a look at the aître Saint-Maclou which houses the School of Fine Arts or theHôtel de Bourgtheroulde, a magnificent building half Gothic half Renaissance which houses a 5-star hotel. Finally, the majestic sobriety of the classic private mansions gives a certain cachet to the Norman city

In Rouen, rich news all year round

After visiting the many museums in the city, such as the National Museum of Education, the Ceramics Museum or the Flaubert Museum, to name but a few, you have to climb up to the panorama of the Saint Catherine coast. From here, you can take great pleasure in admiring the city nestling around the meanders of its river and surrounded by green hills. Walking along the Robec, the mills and the industrial heritage will tell you about the long textile past of this drapery city, of which the sheep has remained the symbol

Finally, it is worth keeping up to date with the rich history of Rouen. Festive events, film festivals and major sporting events (disciplines such as hockey, basketball, or even rugby at a lower level are some of the city's showcases since the players play for the national elite) punctuate the life of a city where the art of living is not an empty word.

Smart news

When? Rouen can be visited all year round.

Go there. If Rouen has an airport, the easiest way to get there is by car, bus or train

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