Looking up at the twin stone towers either side of the entrance to Rouen Cathedral, one of the most impressive in all Normandy,

Amongst the historical lanes of Rouen, France

In En-Route, Europe, France, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

A Conqueror and a Martyr

So, we were off on a Normandy road trip; there is so much to explore & discover in this region that we chose Rouen as our first base, the capital of Normandy.

Looking up at the twin stone towers either side of the entrance to Rouen Cathedral, one of the most impressive in all Normandy,

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Rouen

We caught Le Shuttle to Calais, which is then around 132 miles (212km) to Rouen, if you go direct – but try telling Gary to do that.

Quick Links

Centre Stage

Rouen’s striking centre piece is the Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame, consecrated in 1063 in the presence of William the Conqueror. Notably, it also contains a tomb for Richard the Lionheart, which within rests his heart.

The tomb of Richard the Lionheart inside of Rouen Cathedral in Normandy. The stone tomb topped by a supine figure of the King wearing a crown and holding his sword by his side.

Richard the Lionhearts tomb

Owing to its age, location and its amazing size ‘Our Lady of Rouen’ has suffered over the years due to natural and man-made disasters.

It’s a really interesting Cathedral to wander around particularly to see L’Escaliere de Librairie (The Booksellers Staircase), which once led to the cathedral’s library.

A portrait view of an elegant stone staircase, within Rouen Cathedral in Normandy, leading from a wooden door at ground level up two floors.  This ornate piece is known as the bookseller's staircase.

Lescaliere de Librairie -The Booksellers Staircase

Stone statues of religious figures lined up on the inside of Rouen Cathedral in the heart of Normandy.

Statues inside the Cathedral

And, the almost life size line of statues that have been removed from the cathedral’s fascia waiting for restoration.

Sound and Light

However, I think the Cathedral’s modern day must see, is the amazing light display that is projected on to the huge façade. Every evening at 11pm from June through September, families & friends gather to be awed by the display.

2017’s theme is William the Conqueror & Joan of Arc, the display lasts around 25 minutes and is repeated at around 11:30pm.

Here is a clip to give you a bit of a taster.

Check out the Rouen Website for more information of this fantastic display.

We Found

Although crowds start to gather around 10pm, we headed over at 10:55pm and had a great view. An added bonus is that it is free!!

Maid of Orléans – A little bit of history

Joan of Arc, whom you have probably heard of, played a significant part in Frances’ history, during her short life in the early 15th century.

After successively upsetting the English army, she was captured and tried.

The stone tower that imprisoned Joan of Arc during her final days in Rouen.

The Joan of Arc Tower

It was in Rouen where she was imprisoned in a keep (now known as Joan of Arc Tower) during her trial.

A stone tablet marking the spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Central of Rouen, in front of a modern market building.

The site of the pyre for Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was then executed by being burnt at the stake in 1431, at the very young age of 19.

In 1920 Joan of Arc was made a saint by the pope at St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

Tempted to?

Discover more of Normandy on a road trip, you'll be amazed how easy it is to tour around by car with. Like us you can create your own adventure and visit Caen, the D-Day Landing Beaches, Alençon, Honfleur, Giverny, the ruins of Jumièges Abbey, Beuvron-en-Auge and Mont Saint-Michel.

Take a peek at the offers at Rental Cars, they cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

The open roads await, pop in your location details then Rental Cars will search well-known car hire brands and discover the deals that suit you the best.

And the time is...

The Gros-Horloge or Great Clock is a striking 14th-century astronomical time piece, but I think it may be difficult to set your watch by, as it only does one revolution every 29 days.

It’s housed within an elegant Renaissance arch & it has one of Europe’s oldest working mechanisms.

Rouen's famous Gros-Horloge.  An ornate, gold-trimmed,  clock mounted above an arch in one of the old town's thoroughfares next to a stone belfry.

Gros-Horloge & Belfry

A useful guide

We love visiting France and each region so different from one another. I find the DK Eyewitness Guides really helpful in planning a trip and so often find interesting little snippets of info.

Take a peek at this revised Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide and see what you can discover.

Walking the streets

There is no better way of exploring a town than on foot; you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of it. Rouen has a wonderful surviving array of half-timbered buildings, which it gives Troyes a run for its money.

A view of the different colours of the half-timbered buildings of Rouen

Historical Streets

A close-up look of two of the traditional buildings in the centre of Rouen featuring half-timbered constructions that is so typical of the Normandy region of France

Timbered buildings

Along the cobbled lanes and alleyways are some great little shops and cafes, just teasing you to wander in and take a look.

An ornate art deco style facade to a pastisserie in Rouen.

Amazing architecture

Rouen has a pleasant bustling atmosphere about it. It’s easy just to sit back in one of its many cafés or bars and just enjoy listening to the locals, but our French is so bad we're limited to a few phrases and the odd "Merde!".

An evening scene of people sitting both inside and outside a cafe/bar in Rouen.

Café Life, Rouen


Within Rouen, there are so many interesting pieces of architecture from many different periods.

The beautiful gothic detail in the Palais de Justice in the centre of Rouen.  The golden stone still seems bright under grey skies.

Palais de Justice

All within a fairly short stroll of each other, you will find the ornate Gothic Palais de Justice, the striking Church of Saint-Maclou and the Hotel de Ville next to the Abbey of Saint Oeun.

The gothic Abbey of Saint Oeun in Rouen under dark, brooding, skies.

Abbey of Saint Oeun, Rouen

Be sure to find one of the tranquil little parts of Rouen, that make this such an appealing city.

A quiet leafy corner of Rouen framed with half-timbered buildings.

Half-timbered buildings of Rouen

Why Not?

Start creating your own French adventure and discover the enchanting and historic region of Normandy for yourself. Search through Skyscanner for your favourable routes to Paris, which is a short hop from Normandy.
Search for your flights in one easy place with ebookers.com and open up a world of options. Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

One of favourites ways to kick off our trips is to let Brittany Ferries take the strain, sit back, relax and go with the flow. Enjoy a little bit of France as you sail directly into Caen in the heart of Normandy.

Or alternatively jump on Le Shuttle and tour through France under your own steam.

Evening entertainment

You certainly won’t be short of evening entertainment in Rouen, but make a little detour away from the obvious squares and wander down Rue Eau de Robec.

Along this floral lane runs a river where locals sit and enjoy an evening with friends.

A  stream flowing along a restaurant-lined street in Rouen, Normandy
Rue Eau de Robec
Looking down on a plate of mixed French-style tapas at a restaurant in Rouen.

A selection of tastes

More French-style tapas at a restaurant in Rouen.

French Tapas in Rouen

Along this floral lane runs a river where locals sit and enjoy an evening with friends.

We discovered

Oddly we visited Norwich this year in the UK, which is twinned with Rouen….well who knew.

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of our time in Rouen.

Why not subscribe to our channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Something from Get Your Guide?

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Have You?

Visited Rouen? or do you plan to? The rich historical city has so much to offer.

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Inspired to visit Rouen?

Does it's rich history tempt you? or the charm of it's lanes. Or the thought of fine French food & wine.

Why not check out the latest deals on Booking.Com?

Have a peek at the latest offers from Booking.com, our preferred hotel booking website.
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