City Breaks

Guide to Rouen

A guide to Rouen, the historic capital of the Haute-Normandie

A Guide to Rouen

Discover the historic capital of the Haute-Normandie

This ancient city boasts a wealth of history and culture

Set in the beautiful Seine Valley area of Northern France, Rouen is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region. It has been devastated by fires, ravaged by plagues and torn apart by wars, always to be rebuilt, remaining the jewel in Normandy's crown.

Step back in time as you wander the medieval streets; visit the site where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake and discover for yourself what so inspired author Gustave Flaubert. Adventure down to its magnificent gothic cathedral, made iconic by Claude Monet. Set amidst the many spires piercing the skyline, it's not hard to see why it's known as the 'town of 100 church towers'.

There is something for everyone in Rouen. Galleries and museums abound for the culture buffs, and stunning countryside with cycle paths and hiking trails to appeal to thoses who prefer the outdoors. Visit the shops and specialist boutiques to experience the exquisite examples of local craftsmanship, before sampling the delicious regional fare in one of the local restaurants.

Highlights of Rouen

Cathédrale Notre Dame

Cathédrale Notre Dame

Rouen's soaring gothic cathedral inspired Monet to paint a series of 30 canvases of the building experimenting with different lights, and it isn't hard to see why. Construction of the current building began back in the 12th century and has been fraught with trials and setbacks including fires and lightning strikes. It now stands proudly in the heart of the city with its shining white façade and famous Tour de Beurre, translating to 'Butter Tower' – so named by the locals who funded it in thanks for being allowed to eat butter during Lent, or so the story goes.

The cathedral is open every day, although the times vary: 2-6pm Monday, 7.30am-7pm Tuesday-Saturday, 8am-6pm Sunday. You can enjoy this attraction for free of charge!

Musée des Beaux-Arts

Rouen wouldn't be the 'Home of Impressionism' without its fair share of art galleries. Built in 1870, the grand Musée des Beaux-Arts features masterpieces by some of the world's most famous painters; the likes of Renoir, Carvaggio, Modigliani, Pissarro, Sisley and, of course, Monet adorn its walls.

The gallery is open from 10am-6pm every day, except Tuesday, and costs €5 for adults and is free for children.

Place du Vieux Marché

Place du Vieux Marché

If you follow Rue du Gros Horloge west, it will take you to the Place du Vieux Marché. This is the site where, in 1431, Joan of Arc was burned alive at the stake for heresy at just 19 years old. There is a cross marking the exact spot where it happened, which can be found outside the church dedicated to her, the Église Jeanne d'Arc. There are plenty of little restaurants around this square, should you and your party be in need of some refreshment, or a spot of lunch.

Palais de Justice

Whilst you're in Rouen, be sure to pay a visit to the Palais de Justice, a fine example of early 16th century gothic architecture. The law courts were completely destroyed by bombs during WWII, but have since been restored to their former glory, with ornate spires, gargoyles and decorative statues.

Palais de Justice

Gros Horloge

As you explore down the Rue du Gros Horloge that connects the Cathédrale Notre Dame to Place du Vieux Marché, you can't miss the gothic belfry that gives this street its name. On each side of the grand structure, there are medieval one-handed astronomical clocks, which have been keeping time for centuries.

Getting there and around

By car: it takes just over two hours (213 km) to drive from the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Calais terminus. Take the E402 – A16 to the A28 – which leads directly to Rouen.

Service Patrimoine Historique et Developpement Touristique
186 rue Martainville
76000 ROUEN
Tel: 02 32 08 13 94

Find out more about the Rouen vallée de Seine at

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