Our first full day in Rouen was a busy one!
This is a fairly typical view of the city center where most of the sites are. The architecture here is primarily this kind of colorful half-timbered look, making it look very classically “European cartoon” – like you half expect Belle to pop out of a boulangerie with her daily baguette at any second.
As promised, we stopped by the cathedral first. Hey, it’s literally around the corner from our hotel and we heard it was super cool, so why not?
You had all your normal beautiful cathedral things like the gothic arches and stained glass windows…
two whole walls of ancient statues, some of which were in very good shape and some of which had clearly been rescued from a life out in the elements…
but even major historical landmarks such as the tomb of Richard I, one of the Kings of England (yes, he was English, and yes, he’s buried in France)…
and the Saint Catherine chapel, the only chapel to survive the 1944 bombings completely intact (interestingly, it was actually France’s allies the English doing most of the bombing here, trying to drive out the Germans at the end of WWII).
One square over, at another (far more modern) church, there is this small garden and sign. This is the only monument to the incredible historical significance of this site – it was here, in 1431, that Joan of Arc, the eventual patron saint of France, was burned alive at the stake on charges of being a witch.
We stopped for some lunch and then turned north towards the fine arts museum. I was following Pokestops along the way (caught my first Eevee! They’re one of my favorites) and we stumbled across this beautiful, tiny park. It was maybe only 100 meters square, but it still had this pretty little waterfall and a whole family of swans!
It also, unfortunately, had this poster telling you what you do in case of a terrorist attack. They’ve been popping up in public spaces here lately – I’m sure they existed before the attacks in Nice, considering everything that’s happened here in France over the last few years, but we didn’t see any…and this made the third time we’d seen one in less than 24 hours. We’re wondering if maybe the recent attack promoted them to print and post a lot more than were up before?
We also saw this famous monument, creatively named “the Big Clock of Rouen”. It’s…a big clock. To be fair, it is pretty cool though. It’s one of the oldest clocks in France and has been keeping time since 1389! There’s some debate, but either this clock or a similar one in England is also the largest clock remaining from the 1300s in the entire world.
We also saw this church (but weren’t able to go inside) right next to the city hall. And of course who could come to France without seeing at least one Napoleon monument? Yup, that’s him on the horse. And yes, he was a bit short. Not actually as short as most people think, but…well the simple version is the English (who Napoleon loved to fight) did a really, really good propaganda job. Such a good job we still believe it today, even though Napoleon was probably about 5 foot 6 inches tall (just about average for his time!)
Finally, we ended the night back at the cathedral. We had heard of a “light show” that was going on there every night and wanted to check it out. It turned out to be more like a short film festival than a light show, but it was still super cool!
I have a video but the uploads here are taking forever for even a still picture (that’s why the blog post goes up so much later than the last instagram post!) So you’ll have to forgive me if I beg out of posting that one, or I wouldn’t sleep until 5am waiting on it. Enjoy this second picture instead and head over to instagram to see the video if you want to! I’ll try to post it here when I can find a better connection for those of you who really can’t get on instagram; I’m just not sure when that’ll be.
Our comments winner for today is…Lauren H! Congratulations Lauren! Tomorrow is not only our last full day in Rouen but our last full day anywhere in Europe since we come home on Sunday – we’ll have to really enjoy it then!