Rouen (pronounced Rew-on) is north-east of Paris and is the capital of Northern Normandy.
A city of around 110,000 people (around 530,000 in the wider metropolitan area) and 1,800km2/690sq mi in size, the city is best known for its association with Joan of Arc.
It was in Rouen where Joan of Arc was held prisoner, tried, and executed. Today there are some remnants of Joan of Arc's legacy as well as more modern tributes to her.
What to see
Rouen has some amazing examples of Gothic architecture. These include church of Saint Maclau, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the church of Saint Ouen and the Palais du Justice (court buildings). All of these are easily accessed on foot in a day in the city.
The Church of Saint Maclau is considered to be one of the finest examples of flamboyant Gothic architecture in existence today. It was built in 15th Century.
Notre-Dame Cathedral of Rouen was a favorite subject of impressionist painter Claude Monet. If you are going to visit Rouen, you might also like to visit Monet's paintings of the Rouen cathedral at Paris' Musee D'Orsay. Construction of the cathedral started in the 13th century and has been ongoing since that time. When we visited recently there was work being undertaken.
Church of Saint-Ouen is currently undergoing some renovations. It is a nice church and worth a quick look but is a little bare compared to some others. It is set in some nice grounds and makes for a nice walk around.
To one side of the city (and on the way to and from the city by foot from the train station) is the tower where Joan of Arc was held. It didn't seem possible to visit the tower.
The site of Joan of Arc's execution is now a main square called Place du Vieux Marche. There is a modern church dedicated to Joan of Arc whose roof is shaped like a fish (Joan of Arc's symbol) and also an upturned viking boat.
On one of the main shopping streets (Rue du Gros Horloge) there is a large Astronomical Clock that spans the street. The clock is beautiful with lots of gold and rich colors. It dates to the 16th century.
One of the things that gives Rouen its distinctive feel is the large number of half-timbered houses scattered around the city. The houses, combined with the Gothic buildings, give a very ancient feel to the city, yet it has a good lively vibe. This is added to by the Seine which runs through the middle of the old city.
Rouen has a number of museums including the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen which houses a number of Monet's paintings.
There are a lot of good cafe's and restaurants in Rouen and in the main shopping streets some good ice cream stores and chocolate shops to keep you moving.
Things to do
How to get there
The Intercities train leaves Paris from Gare Saint Lazare.
The train takes either 1 hour 12 minutes or 1 hour 30 minutes and will cost between 19 Euro and 22.30 Euro per person, each way, depending on time, available, and routing. First class is sometimes available.
The train arrives in the north of the city and it is only about 5 minutes walk to get into the town.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 130km/81mi
Time to get there: 70 minutes - 90 minutes
Transport Method: Intercity Train from Gare Saint Lazare
Approximate Price: Train price is around 19 Euro - 22.30 Euro
Worth: A full day
Website: http://www.rouentourisme.com (available in English)