If you’re travelling in Northern France, then there’s no shortage of amazing sites to visit. Rugged coastline, traditional French cuisine, friendly locals: all are great reasons to go ahead and plan a trip to Normandy. And while the capital of Normandy, Rouen, may not be as famous as other French hotspots, you should definitely visit Rouen on a venture through the region…
Rouen is really pretty
Whether you want to see some botanical gardens, have a base from which to explore the rolling hills of the Normandy region, or simply want to snap some cityscapes (complete with timber-framed façades), there’s no denying that Rouen is incredibly pretty!
Throughout history, the city has been well documented for having a fabulous art scene, something which is still true to this day. During the 20th-century, the likes of Claude Monet, as well as many others, ventured to the city and were even inspired to paint the town.
Now, many of Rouen’s streets remain pedestrianised, meaning that a stroll through the town truly feels akin to stepping back in time. No cars, cobbled lanes, a harbour area, and even an antique district: what’s not to love? Visit Rouen during June-September and you’ll even be treated to a free lights display at the cathedral when the sun sets and dusk sets in…
Visit Rouen and you’ll find it’s full of history
If you love history, France, and lots of culture, then you should definitely invest in a Rouen Visit. Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart, and a plethora of other names you’ll recognise from all the history books: a trip to Rouen ensures a history lesson in real life.
Wander through the centre of the city and you can expect to find one of the oldest working clocks in France, oodles of timber-framed houses, and even the very location where Jeanne d’Arc was alleged to have been burned at the stake.
Elsewhere in the pretty French city, there are several historic museums to walk around (including a ceramic museum), as well as one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in France, Rouen Cathedral. This ecclesiastical building was once the tallest building in the world, is open on a daily basis, and is free to visit. It even happens to be the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart.
Rouen is full of great food
Locally produced food and cuisine come in abundance when it comes to Rouen. Normandy is well-known across France for its sea-inspired menus, freshly brewed tipples, and delectable sweets. While in the city, when you’re not munching on French pastries, be sure to sample a ‘Kir Norman’. This alcoholic beverage is made with Normandy cider, a local speciality.
In fact, when it comes to this Northern French area, apple-infused products can be found around every turn. One of the more famous drinks from the region is ‘Calvados’. This apple brandy is used in cocktails, sipped on its own, and even used in desserts (where it’s poured over ice cream!)
Rouen is like no other region or place in France
Northern France is a unique area which is like nowhere else in the rest of Europe. While the medieval town of Rouen may not be as famous as the chalky cliffs of Etretat, or as impressive as Mont-Saint-Michel but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.
Today, Rouen is a city of mainly ‘onlys’. For example, the city has the most classified buildings of any city in France. Attractions such as the cathedral, the parliament buildings, and the Grand Horloge are all protected under French law.
Some of the more unusual things to see and do in the city include seeing the Salle des Procureurs (a prosecutors room), as well as a museum dedicated entirely to wrought iron. Elsewhere in the Normandy city, the Musee Flaubert et d’Histoire de la Medecine houses an ancient anatomical museum.
The church of Aître Saint-Maclou also has a unique history. While the site of this ecclesiastical building has been used as a burial ground since antiquity, the place became a true cemetery when over half of the local population died during the Plague. Today, Aître Saint-Maclou is home to lots of morbid carvings, as well as a mummified cat.
Rouen is a great base from which to explore the Normandy Region
If you give yourself just one reason to visit Rouen, then make it this: Rouen is a great place from which to explore Normandy, Spend a long weekend in the city, exploring the attractions Rouen has to offer, as well as making the most of the great transport links nearby.
After all, from here you can easily visit plenty of French castles or some small Normandy towns. One of the best day trips from Rouen is to Saint Martin de Boscherville, a traditional settlement which dates back to the Middle Ages and is home to the 12th-century Abbey of Saint-Georges de Boscherville.
If you have access to a car, then another great day trip from the Normandy capital is that of the Route des Abbayes (Abbey Route). As its name would suggest, this historic way stretches between Rouen and Le Havre, passing by many an ancient and fascinating abbey en route.