The Old Fogies go to Rouen in France

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Rouen is located on the River Seine and we had travelled overnight the 126 kms from the sea along the meandering river. The cruise terminal is located around 3kms from the city centre in the shadow of the impressive Gustave Flaubert Bridge. Our first view of the cathedral was in the distance as the sun rose over the city.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

In this light, Rouen and the River Seine looked like an impressionist painting .

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Rouen is the capital of the region of Normandy and was one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe. For centuries, Rouen has been an important port on the Seine with goods making there way to and from Paris.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

We were dropped off by shuttle bus in the centre of Rouen and quickly made our way to the cathedral working on the plan that we would enjoy a look around before it got too busy.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Everything about the Cathedral is on a massive scale, its spire rises to a height of 151 metres (nearly 500 feet). Its Gothic style has developed over time, there has been a church on this site since the 4th century which was enlarged by St. Ouen in 650, and visited by Charlemagne in 769. In the 10th century, the Viking leader, Rollo, founder of the Duchy of Normandy, was baptised here in 915 and buried in 932. The heart of Richard the Lionheart is supposed to be enclosed in one of the tombs.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The cathedral has survived lightning strikes, wars, political upheaval and bombs from the Allies in 1944. The cathedral is free to enter and offers the opportunity to really explore the remarkable interior.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Coming out of the cathedral, we made our way to the Gros Horloge which is an astronomical clock dating back to the 14th century. The remarkable timepiece is one of the oldest clock mechanisms in Europe and was in operation from the 14th century up to 1928.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Nearby is the impressive Palais de Justice, which was once the seat of the Parlement (French court of law) of Normandy.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Walking around the city, we were amazed by surviving half-timbered buildings which are often jumbled together lurching here and there. Many of the buildings are used by shops and restaurants that give the city a unique character.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the great French icons is Joan of Arc also known as The Maid of Orléans, Joan claimed to have received visions of the Archangel Michael and others instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination in the 15th century. In 1430, she was captured handed over to the English and put on trial and declared her guilty and she was burned at the stake, she was only about nineteen years of age when she died.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

She was later declared a martyr, a national symbol of France by Napoleon Bonaparte and was declared a saint in 1920.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Where she was burned in the old market square is considered a place of pilgrimage and we decided to make our way to the square. We were surprised there was still a market in the square but it was doing good business selling local produce.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The spot where Joan of Arc was burned is now marked by a large cross next to the modern Saint Joan of Arc church. Inside the church was a surprise, it is remarkably open with large stained glass windows taken from a former church going back too the Renaissance. The whole church is a modern masterpiece based on the plans of architect, Louis Arretche.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

We continued our wanderings, calling into the Hotel De Bourgtheroulde to see some Renaissance plaques, The Hotel de Ville next to Church of Saint Ouen and finally the Museum quarter where we went inside the the Museum of Fine Arts.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

After all the remarkable history and incredible buildings, we decided we would welcome a change of scenery and made our way down to the quays for a bite to eat and a drink. We sat for a while before we made a decision to walk along the quays (around two miles) back to the ship.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The quays, both sides of the river have been developed with a number of quirky buildings and plenty of bars and restaurants.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Rouen is a remarkable place to visit with a large number of attractions around the city, many were free to enter, so even if you are on a budget you will not miss out. One day was not enough to explore this charming city and you could combine a trip to the city with a trip to Paris (2 hours by train) or a trip to the Normandy coast.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

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