The Medieval City of Rouen - In Photos

Posted on 26. Mar, 2014 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, France, Photo Posts

Rouen photos

Hello Rouen.

I really wasn’t expecting much from Rouen, to be honest. My time in the city served more as a pit stop between my home in Auvergne and the long-awaited coast of Normandy, with very little time left for exploration. I wanted to get to the beach, stat. I was oh so obliviously unaware of the city’s long history and regal architecture.

But as you will see in the photos below, I had to rethink my schedule when I saw just how gorgeous Rouen really is (I’m pretty sure I’m now banned from the city for daring to call it a “pit stop”), and just how much history the city holds. In fact:

  • Pierre Corneille, one of the most famous French playwrights, was born in Rouen.
  • Rouen was the inspiration behind a good dozen of Claude Monet‘s paintings.
  • Although her heritage wasn’t as historically significant as the others in this list, Julia Child is said to have eaten her first authentic French meal at La Couronne restaurant.
  • Gustave Flaubert wrote the famous Madame Bovary in this very town.
  • Last but not least, Place du Vieux Marché is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in the 1400s.

Needless to say I felt like the worst Francophile in the world (not to mention stupidest travel documentarian) for not knowing all this.

What surprised me the most is how lavish the centre of Rouen is. The main city square, Place du Vieux Marché, has some of the best preserved timber-frame buildings I’ve seen in all of France, and the city’s many churches are fine examples of Gothic architecture. Why would this relatively small city of Northern France hold so many treasures?

Rouen photos - Place du Vieux-Marché

Rouen photos

The very place where Joan of Arc was executed.

Rouen photos

Hello, I’m five years old and I want to ride the carousel.

Rouen photos

My favourite building on Place du Vieux Marché.

Rouen photos

Place du Vieux-Marché

Rouen photos - Quaint Streets & Buildings

After some research, I discovered that Rouen was considered to be France’s second city for quite some time. It actually was one of the most prosperous cities of Europe, as it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages. This title meant that Rouen was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France between the 11th and the 15th centuries. Hence the city’s sumptuously rich architectural and cultural heritage.

Rouen photos

A series of 15th and 16th century houses leading to Place du Vieux Marché

Rouen photos

Monastery of Saint-Ouen

Rouen photos

Houses of rue Saint-Vivien

Rouen photos

Rue Eau de Robec

Rouen photos

Place Barthélémy

Rouen photos

Le Parvis restaurant

Rouen photos - Gros Horloge

I was also told that one does not visit Rouen and omit walking past the Gros Horloge, an astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century which has recently been restored.

Rouen photos

The extravagant architecture of the Gros Horloge building

Under the Gros Horloge

Rouen photos

The famous clock.

Needless to say I really did feel like the dumbest person in town after seeing all the glorious sights of Rouen, and not having known about them beforehand. It also made me realise that Normandy is SO much more than just pebbly beaches, mussels and World War II like movies would have us believe.

Normandy has a vast and intricate history, and Rouen was just the starting point of my exploratory journey.

Have you been to Rouen or Normandy? What is your favourite “pit stop” in the area?

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4 Responses to “The Medieval City of Rouen - In Photos”

  1. Kayla

    29. Mar, 2014

    I was actually in Rouen just last May and before going there I did not know much about it either! I love your pictures.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Mar, 2014

      Thank you Kayla! Rouen is such a fabulous city to discover.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Hamish Healys

    04. Apr, 2014

    Rouen, France … Your photos reminded me of Life Magazine then, when it featured some quaint European city or town. Your shots are great! Why am I not surprised to learn Rouen served as an inspiration to some of Claude Monet’s paintings?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      04. Apr, 2014

      Thank you so much for the kind words! Glad you like the photos. Were I a painter, I have no doubt I would be inspired by the city.

      Reply to this comment

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