RouenCopyright: Catarina Belova/Shutterstock.com
RouenIf you like food, art, and architecture you will feel right at home in Rouen. You can find this historical capital right in the heart of Upper Normandy. Being located on the banks of the beautiful Seine River, Rouen is an easy launchpad for exploring the French countryside, and picturesque areas like Connelles and Val-de-Reuil can be found just around the corner. Walking through Rouen is like walking through history. This is a city with an abundance of historic buildings, markets, and shops.
The CityWith a history dating way back, “the city of a hundred spires” is an old settlement that saw its most prosperous days during the Middle Ages. This is not only where the famous author Gustave Flaubert lived, but also the city where Joan of Arc was convicted and burnt at the stake in 1431. Rich in art and history, Rouen today has approximately 500,000 Rouennais living in the city and urban area. Because of all the students living here, the city remains lively both day and night. The countryside offers an even more relaxing atmosphere; Rouen and the surroundings are full of history and places to discover. With Paris only a 90 minute drive away, it's easy to come here for a short trip even if you chose the French capital as your main base. If you choose to explore the surrounding areas, there are many daily excursions to go on. You can visit Monet’s home in Giverny, which is one example of a popular attraction outside the city. Another interesting site is Jumièges Abbey, the ruins of a Benedict monastery, that can be found in Jumièges.
Do & See
French food will keep your stomach full and the beautiful scenery will please beyond any doubt, but you will also have your hands full when it comes to activities in and around Rouen. The area is not only full of historical sites, but also very popular for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling and other sports. The Notre Dame Cathedral is a must-see, not to be confused with its namesake cathedral in Paris. This was the cathedral that inspired Monet to paint his cathedral series. Wandering the streets of Rouen you will also come across The Gros Horloge, a beautiful clock right above a pedestrian street and one of its most recognisable sights.
Rouen has it all: gourmet restaurants, romantic escapes, pub grub, and international cuisine. There are plenty of restaurants in the historic downtown and around the Church of St Joan of Arc, but interesting finds await in alleys outside of the immediate city centre. Normandy, unlike the rest of France, does not make its own wine. Instead, the area is renowned worldwide for its apples, cider, pears, and dairy products like cheese and milk. When in Normandy, you must try the apple brandy Calvados, one of the local specialities. Also, some of the best lamb, duck, and poultry in the whole world can be found here!
Since Normandy is famous for its apples and cream, you can count on these ingredients being used in abundance. The tarte Normande, an apple tart topped with cream, is only one of the scrumptious local desserts. Try also the creamy rice puddings, brioche and shortbreads.
Bars & Nightlife
Rouen's student population ensures its nightlife retains a lively dynamic, and a good place to head to start the night off is Rouen's central Place du Vieux-Marché. There are quite a few eateries and places to grand a drink around here, from pubs with a mind-boggling selection of hundreds of beers, to relaxed wine bars with live music.
Shopping in Rouen is a dream for all art enthusiasts. The city offers numerous antique shops, art galleries and markets. On and around Rue Saint-Romain, right in the centre of the city, you can find many high street and local shops and boutiques.