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Rouen, a city in Normandy, France, boasts a rich history dating back to the Roman era. Originally named 'Rotomagus', it was an important regional hub during the Roman Empire, noted for its strategic location by the Seine River.
Rouen entered its golden age during the Middle Ages. In the 9th century, the city was an important commercial center for the Viking settlers who later became the Normans. Rouen Cathedral, started in the 12th century and finished in the 16th, stands as a testament to this period's prosperity.
Joan of Arc: Rouen's Dark Hour
In the 15th century, Rouen played a significant role in the Hundred Years War. It was here, in 1431, that Joan of Arc was tried for heresy and burned at the stake, casting a tragic shadow over the city's history.
Rouen under English Rule
Following the trial of Joan of Arc, Rouen fell under English rule until 1449, when the French, led by Charles VII, recaptured the city. It then flourished as a major port and administrative capital for the Normandy region.
Industrialization and Modern Times
During the Industrial Revolution, Rouen became a major textile and manufacturing center. However, the city suffered extensive damage during World War II from allied bombings. Since then, Rouen has undergone substantial reconstruction and modernization while preserving its historical heritage.
Legacy of Rouen
Today, Rouen's historical footprint, embodied in its architecture, art, and culture, attracts visitors worldwide. From its ancient Roman roots to its pivotal role in the Middle Ages and the turmoil of modern warfare, Rouen's history is as rich and varied as the tapestry of life that continues to unfold in this remarkable city.
The essentials to discover in Rouen
Rouen is replete with remarkable landmarks. While it might be impossible to cover them all, here's our curated selection:
Cathedral of Our Lady of Rouen
At the heart of the city lies the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen. An epitome of Gothic art and its evolution, this cathedral was constructed in the 12th century. Its spire, soaring over 150 meters, is certain to captivate you. As the seat of the city's archdiocese, it houses the tombs of the Dukes of Normandy. Notably, the cathedral is portrayed in a series of 28 paintings by Claude Monet, a sight truly worth seeing.
Museum of Fine Arts
A visit to Rouen would be incomplete without exploring the Museum of Fine Arts. Established in 1801 under Napoleon Bonaparte, this museum ranks among the most comprehensive in France. Set aside ample time to discover over 8,000 works displayed across 60 rooms. In addition to its permanent collections, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen frequently hosts temporary exhibitions.
Cruise on the Seine
Rouen's attractions extend beyond historical monuments. A must-do experience is a cruise on the Seine. As you voyage along the river, you'll witness the valley unfold before your eyes, revealing a blend of nature, culture, and tradition.
3 good places to eat in Rouen
Rouen offers several avenues for discovery, including its gastronomy which has earned it a 'Creative City' label from UNESCO. While the region's specialties such as cider, calvados, and camembert are well known, Rouen also boasts its unique delicacies. Here's a selection of excellent eateries to explore the local cuisine:
This quirky restaurant, located in the heart of Rouen, offers more than just calvados and traditional French dishes. It presents unique specialties that are sure to delight your palate. Enjoy top-notch service amid a playful, original decor. Kitsch is renowned for its conviviality and warm ambiance.
Le Pot prioritizes women's gourmet cuisine, serving scrumptious and savory dishes. Depending on your arrival time, the chef might take a moment to describe what's on your plate. The restaurant prides itself on using exclusively fine, local products.
If you're keen on exploring new flavors, Tandem is the restaurant for you. This charming eatery, adorned with a simple, refined decor, houses a welcoming, friendly, and attentive team. Fresh ingredients are skillfully prepared in an original manner to create mouthwatering dishes.