Ancient, magical and medieval, the charming city of Rouen is the capital of Normandy and well worth a visit on any trip to the region. Here are oodles of photos of Rouen that will make you want to visit ASAP (as well as an address book for all of the very best things to do in Rouen!)
After all, some of the best reasons to visit Rouen include endless cobbled lanes, one of the most impressive clock towers in France, and a cathedral that was once the tallest building in Europe. Visit in the spring and you can expect to enjoy the city without the crowds, while the summer months will surely guarantee the best weather. Meanwhile, winter is offseason, resulting in lower prices, while the fall promises pretty fall colours.
Rouen Address Book (Best things to do in Rouen)
Of course, there are certain photo spots and ‘Instagram’ locations in the magical city of Rouen that you won’t want to miss. There are also plenty of cafés, eateries and museums, as well as a whole host of stunning places to stay. Here are all of the very best things to do in Rouen:
#1 Gros Horloge of Rouen, Rue du Gros Horloge, 76000 Rouen, France
This Renaissance-style clock is situated in the very heart of the city, not far from the cathedral. Easily one of the most beautiful clocks in France, there’s a small museum located nearby and the Gros Horloge contains one of the oldest working time movements in France. And while the exterior of the clock can be admired 24/7, for a fee you can even enter the tower.
#2 Rouen Cathedral, Place de la Cathédrale, 76000 Rouen, France
The final resting place of Richard the Lionheart (though not his heart), as well as many other famous kings and historical figures, Rouen Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world. Today, its beautiful gothic-style façade and high vaulted interiors really are a sight to see! Free to enter and wander around, once inside you can expect to see the tomb of Rollo the Viking, as well as a series of stunning stained glass windows.
#3 Timber framed houses of Rouen
The pretty architecture of the timber-framed houses is part of what makes Rouen so iconic as a city. Some of my favourite houses in Rouen can be found in the streets surrounding the Gros Horloge. And so, if you’re looking to snap some picture perfect moments while in Rouen, you’ll soon discover plenty when wandering around the historic city centre.
#4 Ceramics Museum (Musée de la céramique de Rouen), 1 Rue Faucon, 76000 Rouen, France
Situated in a 17th-Century townhouse, this museum displays plenty of ceramics dating from the 16th to the 18th-Centuries. In total, almost 6000 items are housed and displayed here. Though most of the pottery dates back only a few centuries, some of the oldest artefacts were made as early as the 12th-century!
#5 Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, 2 Rue Jacques Villon, 76000 Rouen, France
This museum is one of the quirkiest places to see in Rouen. Situated within the walls of a former church, here you’ll find collections of all kinds of things; including pub signs, old keys, vintages locks, etc. Easily one of the best hidden gems of Rouen, this cultural space is open from Thursdays through to Tuesdays each week.
#6 Explore the old town of Rouen
Of all the very best things to do in Rouen, wandering the city may well be one of my favourites. Many French cities are best explored on foot and Rouen is no exception. Wander through the old town part of the city to find some of the prettiest streets and quirkiest architecture.
#7 Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Espl. Marcel Duchamp, 76000 Rouen, France
This fine art museum contains objets d’art and intricate antiques from all over France. First inaugurated in 1801, and shortly after the French Revolution, today the museum primarily houses collections of items dating from the 1500s-1900s.
#8 Jardin des Plantes de Rouen, 114 ter Avenue des Martyrs de la Résistance, 76100 Rouen, France
This green space is an oasis just outside the heart of the city. Jardin des Plantes is Rouen’s largest green space and is filled with amazing plants to see year-round. From wisteria in the spring to roses in the summer months, the gardens are almost always in bloom. In the winter time, you can visit the garden’s extensive greenhouses, where plants thrive even in the coldest of months.
#9 Historial Jeanne d’Arc: 7 Rue Saint-Romain, 76000 Rouen, France
Set over five floors, this museum is dedicated to the life and times of Joan of Arc, who was tried in the city of Rouen in the 1400s. Since her trial and execution (which many historians believe took place in a square not far from the Gros Horloge), she has become a national icon in France. For more Jeanne d’Arc in France, here’s how to follow in the footsteps of Joan of Arc.
#10 Old Market Square (Place du Vieux Marché)
This picturesque market square is as pretty at night as during the day (so pretty much all the time!) All timber-framed houses and sloping rooftops, it makes for a very cute picture (and can often be found in snaps on Instagram).
#11 Church of Saint-Maclou, 7 Place Barthélémy, 76000 Rouen, France
The imposing cathedral that sits in the very heart of the city isn’t the only beautiful or fascinating church in town! The gothic architecture of Saint-Maclou is well worth a look, if only to learn about its complicated history (the ossuary here once housed the bones of thousands upon thousands of plague victims) and see its macabre architecture.
#12 Musée Flaubert et d’Histoire de la Médecine, 51 Rue de Lecat, 76000 Rouen, France
Located in a former hospital, you’ll find a museum dedicated to all things medicine related. Now classified as a historic monument, the museum only costs a few euros to enter and here you’ll find quirky sights to see such as the birth room of Gustave Flaubert.
#13 Palais de Justice, 76000 Rouen, France
Located right beside the grand Rouen Cathedral, you’ll find the Palais de Justice (Rouen Courthouse). Its façade has a gothic exterior and perfect for photography! Now classed as a historic monument, construction of this building commenced at the end of the 15th-century.
#14 Tour Jeanne d’Arc
Of all the Rouen attractions to be found in the Normandy capital, the Joan of Arc tower is easily one of the most impressive. The last remaining piece of a once impressive Rouen Castle, the tower was built in 1204 by Philippe Auguste. Today, the building is home to an escape room game.
Things to know before visiting Rouen for the first time
Fancy leaving Paris and exploring some of the rest of France? Well, this three-day long weekend Normandy trip is an itinerary you’ll totally want to steal. Otherwise, if you’re short on time, the city of Rouen can easily be visited as a day trip from Paris! However, it’s worth noting that this will end up being a fairly long day trip as you’ll be on the train for several hours in each direction.
You should also know that while most people you’ll encounter in the tourist industry will speak English, it’s only polite to learn a few words of French. ‘Please,’ ‘Thank you,’ ‘Hello,’ and ‘Sorry’ are a great place to start. For more information, consider purchasing a simple French phrasebook like this one.
Finally, if you’re looking to make a weekend trip of your visit to Rouen, then you should consider booking your place to stay well in advance. After all, while not nearly as popular as Paris or Provence, the best places fill up quickly, especially so in the summer months when the city can get pretty busy. like this one