OVERVIEW ON ROUEN!
The Saint Catherine Hill offers, from its height of 140 metres, one of the most requested views over the Seine valley and the city of Rouen. Classified as a natural site, it is one of the more than 50 historical monuments that the city has. In this hill there are more than 190 plant species reported, among which we find the very rare and delicate Rouen Violet “Viola Hispida”, an endemic species of the Seine Valley in danger of extinction that grows in calcareous slopes. It blooms from the end of April to June and is visible until October.
Its petals are light purple and its leaves are elongated and velvety, it is about 12 cm and only about 3,000 flowers remain. In addition, on the hill, there are 190 species of butterflies and we can meet its 120 sheep that graze in sunny weather. It can be accessed by walking from the Cathedral Square taking Saint-Romain Street that is to the left of the main facade of the cathedral and always straight ahead. We must count 1.5 km to the foot of the hill where you will find the staircase that takes us to the top. This staircase has 525 steps. Cheer up!
Another option is to get there on the nº 20 bus. You take it in front of the cathedral, on Général Leclerc Street, in the direction of Saint-Léger du Bourg-Denis and get off at Cimetíère du Mont Gargan. There are three stops. Did you know that Claude Monet painted “General View of Rouen” at the top in 1892? A painting that you can see at the Fine Arts Museum, located in Esplanade Marcel Duchamp.It is open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM, it closes on Tuesdays and admission is free.
Claude Monet spent the last 36 years of his life in Giverny, a locality 59 km from Rouen. Paris had very expensive rents and for many artists it was impossible to stay there while Normandy was relatively close and also very affordable. Located in the middle of the countryside, a bucolic and peaceful place, Giverny was the idyllic place for him to find his inspiration. Surely, the presence of young American painters favoured his decision.
"Oh là là"
The local gastronomy is very diverse, you will be able to find a great variety of dishes but, without doubt, the star restaurant in La Vieria is “Coquille Saint-Jacques”,meaning Saint Jack´s Shell. In French, its pronunciation sounds as good as it tastes! There is a huge variety of scallops in France, but only one receives the red quality label and that is the Scallop “Pecten Maximus of Normandy”. So, you are lucky since here you will be able to taste this delicious delicacy.
The Pecten Maximus also called Galician or European Scallop, has a weight that oscillates between 100 up to 700gr. and measures between 10 and 15 cm. Its upper valve (shell) is almost flat and smaller entering a little in the lower one, which protrudes more. The edges are sharp and wavy while the lower is wavy and convex. Both shells are traversed by radii that come out from the vertex of each shell, drawing a fan.
The colour of the upper shell is reddish or yellowish brown and the lower one is paler with brown spots. They are fished in the Atlantic waters between December and February, and fishing is done by dragging since they are found on sandy or gravel seabed up to 100m. deep where they rest on their lower shell near the coast. It is a hermaphroditic animal, when we eat scallops what we eat is the abductor muscle, which is the central part of white colour and the gonads, of orange colour, whose whitish base is the male gland and the red part of the tip is the female one. The abductor muscle is a powerful muscle that causes the shell to open and close.
They swim through this movement; the rapid jerks produce currents of water that make them move forward. It is an exquisite delicacy that is cooked in many ways, although the traditional one, baked in the oven, predominates. This delicacy can be accompanied by a Neufchâtel cheese, a creamy Normandy cheese made with cow´s milk that is offered in 6 different forms, although the heart shape stands out and as a designation of origin since 1969.
" Bon Appetit”
Today, we are not going to buy clothes or shoes, but rather some items that have made the city of Rouen famous. It is the second centre for antique dealers in the country. Located in the historic heart of the city, these professionals in the restoration of art objects and merchants constitute in some way a way to travel back in time. One of the jewels that we can buy in antique dealers is Rouen Pottery. Rouen is equally well known for having been one of the main European centres for pottery.
In France, ceramics are known as “Faïence”, which comes from the Italian town of Faenza, from where the technique was imported in the 16thcentury. Rouen pottery is one of the oldest in France, it had its heyday in the 17thand 18thcentury. Rouen pottery is made up of a dough of pink clay coated with an opaque white tin-based glaze and painted with radiant heraldic decorations, Chinese scenes or nature-inspired “Rococo” motifs.
The colours used for the decoration are the shades of blue inspired by Delftware, sometimes with red or taken from the colour palette of the great fire: blue, violet, green or yellow. Its decline occurred around 1770, when the clientele opted for fine ceramics with more precise motifs and more vivid colours. Rouen pottery was a simple tableware and its quality suffered, hence the decrease in production, although paradoxically the quality of execution improved. In 1794, a commercial treaty between France and England accelerated the ruin of Rouen pottery, with the preference for fine English porcelain.
The year 1810 marks the end of its manufacturing production. The street to buy pottery is the Gros Horloge. This street is the main commercial artery of the city that goes from the Cathedral to the Place du Vieux Marché and is the first pedestrian street in France, opened in the 70s. It owes its name to the Gros-Horloge, an architectural complex made up of a gothic civil bell tower whose clock worked from the 14thcentury until 1928. This monument also has a renaissance vault and a baroque fountain.
Rue Gros Horloge. Rouen.
AINT JOAN OF ARC!
In the place du Vieux Marché, a cross is erected indicating the exact place of the stake where Joan of Arcwas burned alive by heresy on May 30, 1431. Her ashes were thrown into the Seine River so that she wouldn´t become a martyr. Today, Saint Joan of Arc is the Patron Saint of France.Next to the cross is a building, the Church of Saint Joan of Arc, built in her honour and inaugurated on May 27, 1979 by the then President of the Republic, Valery Giscard d´Éstaing. Its gothic stained-glass windows stand out, coming from the Church of Saint-Vincent, destroyed during the allied bombings on May 31, 1944.
Joan of Arc heard from the age of 13 the voices of Saint Catherine and the Archangel Saint Michael who asked her to expel the English from the Kingdom of France. She appeared in front of the Dauphin, the future King Charles VII, assuring him that God was sending her to liberate France from the invader. The king granted her a small army and she managed to liberate Orleans at the age of 17. Finally, France would crown her king. If you want to know more, the Historical Joan of Arcis located on Saint-Romain Street and is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 AM to 12:15 PM and from 12:45 PM to 7 PM The price is €10.50.
In the Place du Vieux Marché, we also find the ruins of the Saint-Sauver Church, devastated during the French Revolution in 1793. From there they took out the cross with which Joan of Arc asked to be hugged while they were sacrificing her and where they baptized Pierre Corneille, French playwriter considered the creator of Classical French tragedy, who was born and lived on Rue de la Pie.
This street starts from the same square and his house has become a museum. Enter and discover an authentic house from the 17thcentury. Open from 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM from Tuesdays to Fridays and from 9 AM to 12 PM and from 2 PM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Closed on Mondays. Free admission. Before being tried Joan of Arc was locked up in the Tower. The only vestige still visible from the Castle, located between Rue du Donjon and Rue Bouvreuil.
THE RED WEEK!
The largest civil gothic building in France is located in Rouen. It is the Parliament of Normandy, erected as a permanent judicial and financial High Court by an ordinance of Louis XII in 1499. With Francis I, this sovereign court became the parliament with is arrival to the throne in 1515. It was built on a Jewish neighbourhood that was razed for its construction. In the renovation works of 1976, a Jewish building built around 1100 was discovered by chance, underground at a depth of 2.5 metres.
From the building, its four walls are preserved with a base decorated with geometric and animal motifs, we can also contemplate a fortnight of graffiti in Hebrew.It is considered that it could have been a synagogue, a Hebrew university or perhaps the house of a rich merchant or high religious official. It is the oldest Jewish monument in France. Jews made up 10 percent of Rouen´s population in the Middle Ages. In 1306, King Philip IV of France decreed the expulsion of the Jewish community from the Kingdom of France.
Most of the English Jewish elite in the Middle Ages came from Normandy, following the coming to power of William the Conqueror in England in 1066. The building was badly damaged during the Second World War when it suffered the bombings of the Allied aviation that occurred between May 30 and June 5, 1944, a period known as “Red Week”. The 400 bombs of one ton each caused 2,000 fatalities, in addition to causing significant material damage to the rest of the city.
German troops had entered Rouen on June 9, 1940, occupying the city for 4 years. On August 30, 1944, Canadians liberated Rouen, leaving the city a mass of rubble. Projectile impacts can still be seen on the side of the building facing Place du Maréchal Foch. The damages have been voluntarily maintained to pay tribute and perpetuate the memory of thousands of victims and to remember the price paid by the city for the liberation of France.
On the main façade there are photographs with the damage that occurred after the bombings. Today, the building is the seat of the Justice Palace.
Rue aux Juifs
CYCLING ON THE SEINE RIVER BANKS!
Do you dare to discover a part of the city as a fun and exciting adventure free of people and away from traffic? Go cycling with the bicycles offered by the municipality in the 28 stations throughout the city. By your own and at your own pace, we purpose a 7 km route by its docks. We begin our stroll along the pier at the height of William the Conqueror Bridge(the 3rdone from the Cathedral).
The river is on our left and immediately we are struck by a modern cylinder-shaped bluish building 15 metres high, the Panorama XXL, a unique and spectacular cultural centre that projects 360º panoramic works, like the great barrier reef or Rouen in the time of Joan of Arc. We continue until we pass under the Gustave Flaubert Bridge. On this right bank we discover urban recycling: hangars, old deposits and harbour warehouses that have been transformed into leisure venues, bars, restaurants, municipal offices or museums. We reach the Grand Maritime Port of Rouen, the 5thlargest in France in tonnage, but the first in agro-industrial transport and the second for refined petroleum products.
We go back to where we came from and on the other bank we are surprised by a very attractive building, 90 metres long, 28 metres wide and 33 metres high, the Hotel de la Metropole, seat of the metropolitan government. Right next to it is Hangar 106 converted into a party room. We arrive at the William the Conqueror Bridge, we cross it to the other side on its bike path and we access the Saint-Sever Meadow, one of the lungs of the city.
We take the opportunity to fill our lungs with fresh air and rest while enjoying the views of the city centre. We continue toCorneille Bridge, the one that crosses Lacroix Island, to return to the centre. After this experience, you will surely become fond of cycling.
"Et c´ est fini”
PANTHEON OF DUKES AND KINGS!
The Cathedral began in the 12thcentury under the Assumption of Mary. Its festival is in August 15, one of the 4 days in the year that shine more than the sun. Could you tell me what those other 3 days are? Of the 80 cathedrals that you find in France, it is the only one that has an archiepiscopal palace that is still inhabited. In France all the cathedrals belong to the State, which spends 40 million euros in their maintenance, and by the cathedral of Rouen it is disbursing 15 million.
Another curiosity of the cathedral is that the current arrow is made of cast iron placed in the 19thcentury replacing the previous wooden one that caught fire. It is the highest in France, reaching 151 metres and the third tallest gothic cathedral in the world. In its apse isle lie the tombs of 3 kings, members of the Norman Ducal family, cardinals and 17 archbishops, among which we highlight two: Rollon, founder of the Duchy in 911, who had the honour of being the first one to rest in the cathedral, where he was also baptized, and the cenotaph(empty tomb) of the most famous of them all. Here comes a riddle …
He appears in a movie where an outlaw robs the rich in Sherwood Forest to give to the poor. Who is he? Beware of the trap! It is Richard the Lionheartand not Robin Wood. Richard the Lionheart, son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England, was King of England, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Anjou and Lord of Beynac. His dominions in French territory represented almost a fifth of France. Although King of England, in which he was twice in his life, Richard the Lionheart did not speak English.
Did you known that Claude Monetpainted Rouen´s Cathedral up to 31 times between 1892 an 1894? Some from the first floor of the current tourist office and others from the corner of the Cathedral Square with the Rue du Grand Pont. The same model painted at different times of the day to capture the different luminosity since light is of vital importance in impressionist paintings.
Place de la Cathédral Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 AM to 7 PM, Sundays from 8 AM to 6 PM and Mondays from 2 PM to 7 PM.
In 1831, Víctor Hugo in his anthology of poems, “Les feuilles dáutomne” (Autumn Leaves) talks about the hundred belltowers of Rouen.But are there really 100 belltowers in the city? Today, there are only 38 but, before 1789, there were 104 belltowers. Our walk begins at the corner of the Cathedral Square with Rue Saint-Romain, which leads us to the Gothic Church of Saint-Maclou, with 5 portals sculpted in the renaissance style.
At the rear is the Atrium built on one of the last medieval necropolises. Going up the Rue Repúblique until you reach the Place du Général de Gaule, we find the Saint Ouen Abbeyof majestic proportions of 137 metres long and 80 stained glass windows. The Benedictine Monastery still conserves the church that is accessed through the gardens and the old monks´ bedroom hall that is today the seat of the City Council. After visiting this abbey, we continue along Rue des Faulx to the Church of Saint-Vivien, built in the 14thcentury.
In this church you can venerate the relics of Saint Vivian. On the north wall we find the remains of a fountain where abandoned babies used to be collected. Then we go up Avenue Porte des Champs until Rue Orbe, we take it to the left and the second street on the left leads us to Saint Nicaise Churchfrom the 14thcentury. Raised over a chapel from the 7thcentury where the illustrious Archbishop Saint-Ouen deposited the relics of Saint Nicaise. The church is topped by a tower 57m. high that contains a chime with 9 bells. We go down Rue Saint-Nicaise and when we reach Rue Orbe, we turn right and go straight ahead until the intersection with Rue Beauvoisine and we turn left to Rue Beffroi where the Saint-Godard Churchis located.
It is in a gothic renaissance style, although its tower dates from the 17thcentury. It stands out for the beauty and amazingness of its stained-glass windows. The Rue Baillage that continues later as Rue Saint-Patrice leads us to the Saint-Patrice Church. The church is presented as an authentic gallery of magnificent stained-glass windows. Most are from the 16thcentury. We take Rue Saint-Patrice again at the intersection with Rue Jeanne d´Árc to the right, we arrive at the Cathedral.
CROSSED BY THE SEINE!
In front of the Cathedral, across the river, the Saint-Server meadow invites you to rest and admire the city. The Seine River is the second longest river in France at 776 km and the most famous because it runs through the city of Paris. Before pouring its waters into the English Channel, it passes through Rouen, which is 126 km from the mouth of the river. On the left bank of this estuary, we find the municipality of Honfleur, famous for being the town where Claude Monet created a school of impressionism and Deauvile, one of the most prestigious spa towns in France.
On the right bank, right at the mouth, is the city of Le Havre, the largest cargo port in France. In the waters of the Seine as it passes through Rouen since 1989, The Armadahas been held every five years, and for 10 days, the largest nautical event in the world, where the most beautiful ships and sailboats in the world meet.The origin of this event was in the idea of commemorating the centenary of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the city of Paris to New York, making the same that the statue made.
The first edition of the Armada took place on July 6, 1989, more than 30 years ago.The second edition took place 5 years later, in 1994, and was called The Armada of Liberty to commemorate the 50thanniversary of the Normandy Landing.
Again, after 5 years, The Week of The Century was celebrated, to commemorate the end of the millennium.
The Next Armada will be in 2024.
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