10 Apr Rouen, A Beautiful Medieval City in Normandy
The stunning medieval old town
Magnificent gothic churches, charming alleys and lovely squares lined with the typical half-timbered houses, the beautiful arch with the Gros-Horloge, the keep where Joan of Arc was tried, threatened of torture, and sentenced to die, and the typical charm of French smaller cities.
Although Flamboyant gothic is not my favorite architectural style, there’s no denying that Notre-Dame Cathedral is impressive.
The Cathedral of Rouen fascinated Monet who, between 1892 and 1983, represented it in more than 30 paintings, and it is also renowned for its three imposing towers. One of them, called la Tour de Beurre (The Butter Tower), owes its name to the indulgences that were practiced in the Middle-Age. During Lent, the drastic religious rules forbid the consumption of butter, but people could escape the rule in exchange for a donation to the church and the offerings financed the construction of the tower which was thus named Butter Tower.
The gothic building that stole my heart was the abbey of Saint-Ouen.
More than the facade, overlooking a square where due to the city development it doesn’t fit well anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful gardens surrounding the external aisles and the apse. Farther from the traffic noise, the abbey is at least partially returned to what it originally was: a place of prayer, silence, and meditation (this is probably a rather romantic and unrealistic idea of the time, but I like to think it used to be close to my imagination).
Rouen, not a city for tourists (almost)
Getting to Rouen
Accommodation in Rouen
I stayed at a lovely studio near the train station which I found on Airbnb, but there are also plenty of hotels and B&Bs.
If you’re in for a treat, you may consider to stay at the Hotel de Bourgtheroulde, Autograph Collection. The building, an ancient mansion dating back to the 15th Century, is beautiful, and the hotel features also a SPA where you can pamper after a long walk in the alleys of Rouen Medieval Quarter. Even if it’s not your accommodation style, it is worth a visit if only for the stunning architecture.