Out in Africa travel blog





The Great Clock


sailed during the night and arrived this morning at Rouen. This is the halfway point between Paris and the sea. Considered the capital of upper Normandy, it is the region's largest city with population of 200,000. Founded by the Romans as Rotamagus. Christianity arrived in the 3rd century and became the seat of a bishopric. It suffered much during Viking raids, once almost completely destroyed. It was rebuilt many times until WWII. Many historical buildings have been rebuilt and restored.

Rouen has been a bone of contention between England and France. During the Hundred Years' War in 1431, Joan de Arc was tried and condemned for heresy by the English and burned at the stake in Place de Vieux Marche.

We started with the ship's walking tour, but by the time we reached the first stop, we decided to tour on our own. We couldn't walk as slow as the guide. We went to the tourism office and got a map and bought a guide book for 2 euros and off we went.

Our first stop was the Cathedral of Our Lady, a Gothic building which stands on the site of 2 earlier cathedrals.

Building started in 1000 and consecrated in 1063. Additions were added in 1140, 1200, 1237, 1302 and 1377. A number of dramatic events led to reconstruction; a hurricane in 1683, French Revolution, a steeple fire in 1822, air raid in 1944 and storm in 1999.

We walked to St. Maclour Church, but do to construction/restoration we could not get inside. We went to Saint Ouen Abbey Church with its 88 stained glass windows. The windows were stored during WWII.

We went to the site where Joan de Arc was burned at the stake. The new modern church built here is built on the site of the old St. Vincent's Church that was bombed in 1944. The new church was built using the 13 stained glass windows from the old church. These were built in 1520 and 1530. This is near the Old Market Place.

We saw Parliament of Normandy building with the many bomb holes. This building was constructed in the Middle Ages on the remains of Jewish Quarter which was destroyed with the expulsion of the Jews in 1316.

We passed by the Hotel de Bourgtherould with the early Renaissance sculptures in the courtyard representing the Triumphs of Petrarch and Fiel of Cloth of Gold, which relates to meeting of King Francios of France and King Henry VIII of England in 1515.

We passed under the Great Clock, fully restored in 2006. There is a Gothic Belfry, Renaissance archway and clock face and 18th century fountain.

Went to the Tower of Joan de Arc, where she was imprisoned and tried. We climbed the 125 steps to the top which is 35 meters high.

Found the best chocolate e'claires at Paul Fine Pastry and the famous "tears of Joan of Arc" candy/truffles at Auzou Le Chocolatier Normandy.

We had lunch at a local "sports bar" where Verne declares it was the best beer he has had on the trip. The bathroom was unique...entered the door and there was a women's stall, a men's stall and an open urinal with an interesting sign!

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