Victor Hugo famously described Rouen as “the city of 100 steeples”. And if there are fewer today, notably following the bombardments of World War II, the city still possesses a quite remarkable historical, architectural and artistic heritage.
The capital of Normandy is best explored on foot. We will first take time to admire the façade of Notre-Dame Cathedral, as Claude Monet himself so often did; once inside, we will essentially be strolling through Norman history as we pass the tombs of some of its greatest Dukes: Rollo, William Longsword, Richard the Lionheart; we can admire the superb stained-glass windows by some of the greatest master glassmakers… And once outside again, we will be in the heart of Old Rouen, with its ancient half-timbered houses, narrow streets, porcelain craftsmen, in the area leading to the beautifully restored Church of Saint-Maclou and its astonishing “aître”, or cemetery and ossuary for plague victims.
We will then make our way westwards towards the Grand Horloge, or Great Clock, symbol of the town. Passing in front of the Renaissance splendour of the Justice Palace, we will reach the Old Market Place where Joan of Arc met her death in 1431, at the untimely age of 19. Our walk will end here, in the modern church built to honour Saint Joan and where we can admire some stunning signed and dated Renaissance stained-glass windows.