This past weekend, Thomas and I decided to hop on another train, this time to explore the city of Rouen which is part of the Normandy region. The weekend before we had a mini break in Orleans which you can read about here. This is really becoming a habit, and we are really enjoying exploring the many different regions of France. After only an hour and half train from Paris, we arrived in Rouen ready to explore this new city. As soon as we stepped out of the train station I could see the top of the famous cathedral, so we headed in that direction. I immediately noticed the architecture of the buildings and how different they were from Paris. The half timbered houses created a beautiful scenic route throughout the city. Making our way into the city center, we past many boutiques and restaurants that were so pretty, they made me want to go in and discover more! Rouen is known for its antique district and has many shops specializing in upscale furniture and art.
We made a quick stop at our hotel, Hotel de la Cathedral to drop off our bags. This charming hotel offered old world French style even furnished with French antiques. Once back out on the street, we headed over to the Gros Horloge which is the main street in Rouen. There was a beautiful flower stall set up in the street and I couldn’t pass by without taking some photos. The street itself is nice for shopping, but be warned, Saturday is prime shopping day and gets VERY busy!
Moving on to explore more of the city, we headed over to the area around the Notre Dame cathedral, famous for influencing Monet to paint his Cathedral series. The Saint Maclou church was my favorite located not far from the main cathedral. Considered to be the best example of Gothic architecture in France, this church has beautifully carved doors, and had organ music streaming out onto the streets causing many people to stop and listen. Next, we wandered over to the famous spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. There is now a large memorial building in the place where her execution took place.
Sunday morning is always my favorite time in France because this is when the best markets are held. We headed over to Place Saint Marc, and I was in market heaven! A mixture of antiques, food, flowers and clothes and even sewing supplies were offered for sale at this large market. I couldn’t resist taking some time to search through the endless tables of antiques and even ended up buying two ceramic pots and one silver jug! Getting near lunch time, we couldn’t resist a stop at the fromagerie (cheese stall) and getting a large chunk of cheese to enjoy on our train ride home.
Leaving the market, we strolled along the Seine toward the direction of the train station. Stopping to take a photo of the Palais de Justice, it was surreal to see the damage still left behind from the heavy fighting in 1944. Walking a little farther toward the station we came across a beautiful little park with waterfalls and even a couple of white swans floating in the water!
Overall, I enjoyed this weekend in the city of Rouen and felt like I had stepped back in time in many of the areas that still have the half timbered houses and cobblestone streets. It is also great little getaway if you are looking for antiques! If you are visiting Paris, you should keep Rouen in mind if you are looking for a day trip!