An undeniable tourist hotspot, Rouen is a city which will entice you for all the right reasons – with its soaring Gothic architecture, diverse cultural and historical attractions, its sleek and sophisticated nightlife and its buzzing atmosphere leaves you with the impression of an extrovert and lively destination.
Friendly and welcoming, Rouen has many attractions and things to do that you may have to plan another trip afterwards. It first started out as the Roman city of Rotomagus and since then has seen many turbulent and life-changing events, including several city fires, plagues, the burning at the stake of the young French heroine, Joan of Arc in 1431, and suffered from the devastation of the Nazi bombs in WWII. Today, the city has undergone a new transformation, much like the glorious phoenix rising from its own ashes.
The Cathédrale Notre Dame is generally the first port of call for many tourists. A tour around this magnificent building not only takes you on a tour throughout history, but it’s a tour for your senses as well. Your eyes will feast upon this magnificent Gothic cathedral, built in 1062, and your mind becomes captivated with the images of the grand old days of yore. There are daily tours which will take you through the history and the building itself, including an interesting journey deep into the crypts.
Many people come to Rouen to pay their respects to a young girl who changed the course of French history, Joan of Arc. The first place to see is the Tour Jeanne d'Arc, the tower where she was imprisoned. Only one tower remains but eight were once built, encircling a fabulous chateau designed by Philippe Auge.
In the centre of town you will find the Place du Vieux Marché, the place where the bright and young French heroine was burned at the stake in 1431. An unadorned cast iron cross shows the exact place where the 19 year old Joan was burned for heresy. It is a place where words do not come easy for visitors; you can easily imagine the terrible event in your mind but despite this, there is a sense of hope and peace that still lingers on so many centuries later.
Located in the centre of town, the Aître St-Maclou is a delightful collection of old buildings dating back to the middle of the 16th century. Today it is the School of Fine Arts, but for many years the courtyard was used as a cemetery for plague victims and the designs featuring crossbones, hourglasses, skulls and many other gruesome motifs both interest visitors and sends chills down their spines.
One of the best things to do in Rouen is to sample the culinary delights. Normandy is famous for her cheeses and the ones you taste here in Rouen’s restaurants will leave your tastebuds tingling in delight. The pastries are the lightest and sweetest in the region and there is a wine to compliment every dish.
Many of the hotels and guesthouses in Rouen are modern buildings but the old French charm is still evident as soon as you step foot through the door. The Rouen people are known for their hospitality and a stay here means a time of pampering to your every need.
Rouen is a perfect destination for anyone visiting France. The city offers the chance of an unforgettable experience and memories to cherish for a lifetime.