Rouen, France has several noteworthy attractions and is a great places to spend a few hours. Rouen has played a vital role in French history and is also known as the place where St. Joan of Arc was executed.
If driving to Rouen, the Place Saint-Mark, on Rue Alsace Lorraine/Place St. mark (just north of the Seine river) , is a centrally located pay-parking area within walking distance of Rouen’s most interesting attractions.
The Cathedral Notre-Dame
The Cathedral Notre-Dame is a textbook example of French Gothic architecture. Although severely damaged during a bombardment in 1944 (and still in restoration), the cathedral is beautiful. It feels extremely spacious and exploring its interior is a visual treat, especially its outstanding stained glass. In addition, the cathedral features a tomb purportedly containing the heart of Richard the Lionhearted.
Those of you who are art fans might be interested to know that this is the Cathedral featured in numerous paintings by Monet. He was so entranced by the cathedral’s image that he rented a room across from it so that he could paint it as it appeared in the changing light of different seasons.
The local Tourism Office is across the street from the Cathedral, located in the one of the oldest buildings (early 16th century) in Rouen.
Follow the Rue St. Romain down the side of the cathedral to Église St.-Maclou, an over-the-top gothic church that is worth a quick peek. Follow another block east to the Aître St.-Maclou, a somewhat curiously decorated cemetery dating from the Great Plague in the 14th century. The graveyard, which is the attraction here, is now surround by a regional fine arts school.
Just to the south of the Cemetery, the St. Maclou quarter is one of the oldest areas of Rouen. It features narrow (sometimes winding) streets lined with timber framed medieval houses, most leaning wildly to the right or left. There are a number of excellent outdoor cafés in this area, so stop and have a snack if you have time. If not, grab a loaf of bread or some pastries from one of the many bakeries along the way and munch while you tour.
Rue du Gros Horologe and Place du Vieux Marché
To the west of the cathedral, follow the Rue du Gros Horloge through a shopping area to the Gros Horloge, a delightful tower with an impressive, colorful antique clock. Follow further to the Place du Vieux Marché that contains the modern church, Église Sainte-Jeanne D’Arc, and a large cross marking the place where St. Joan of Arc’s was burned at the stake in 1431.
The Palais de Justice and the Musée des Beaux Arts
Return towards the cathedral using the Rue Rollon exit from the square for a quick look at the Palais de Justice, a building with interesting architecture, constructed during the late Middle Ages. Numerous bullet holes pock the building’s surface and chunks of facing materials that were blasted out during the battle for the city following the D-Day Invasion have not been repaired.
Musée des Beaux-Arts
If you have time, walk a few blocks north to Rue Jean Lecanuet (26) to see the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which features a collection of sculptures and some excellent canvases by Velazquez, Delacroix, Sisley and Monet (including paintings of the Cathedral Notre-Dame in Rouen).
It, also, has great collections from the Renaissance and Europe’s Baroque age, as well as other interesting eras in the history of France. See the official website (in French, so use Google Translator) for more details. The museum is located at the Esplanade Marcel-Duchamp, 76000 Rouen.
For more attractions in Rouen, as well as a detailed map of the city, see Rouen Tourism’s web site at http://www.rouentourisme.com