Travels with Victoria: Rouen, France

Cruising the Seine — can you think of a more beautiful place to be on a warm sunny day at the end of May? Our ship navigated the broad mouth of the river and about 75 miles of curving river from the English Channel to Rouen past an idyllic countryside of neat farms, lush fields and contented cattle, past villas and villages.

Approaching the Pont Gustave Flaubert; the vertical lift bridge across the Seine at Rouen opened in 2008. At the right is the distant steeple of the cathedral (see below). 

A passing River Cruise ship, which can fit under the bridges; we saw many of these vessels which can go at least as far up river as Paris.

Rouen being the principal city of Haute-Normandie, one might expect the half-timbered buildings — and there were plenty of them.  This one houses a Monprix, part of a large French chain, roughly comparable to Target in the U.S.

One of the city’s more famous sights is the Gross Horologe, an astronomical clock.  It reminds me that we found a McDonald’s nearby, which we were looking for to use their worldwide free wi-fi.  In the several French McDs at which we stopped, a separate coffee bar served excellent cafe au lait. Nice sipping while we caught up on e-mail.  But that brings up another question: How come ships and hotels so often charge exorbitant rates for their internet access?  And then are so slow it costs a bundle just to read a few messages — while good ol’ Mickey D’s has good wi-fi service (most places) free, whether or not you buy a Big Mac?

Rouen’s Notre Dame Cathedral (above) was damaged and almost half of the city was destroyed by allied bombing attacks during World War II.  Restoration is complete, but constant renovation and repairs are needed to keep the oldest parts of the structure, dating from the 12th century, intact.

The cathedral houses a tomb of Richard Coeur de Lion (the LionHeart) who lived from 1157-1199. Richard was King of England and Duke of Normandy; his heart is buried here though other remains are buried elsewhere.

Joan of Arc was tried and executed by burning at the stake in Rouen in 1431, not a claim to fame that is celebrated in the city.

Here is a cheerier note, taken at a flower vendor’s colorful corner.

Claude Monet painted the facade of the Cathedral over and over in varying light and weather conditions.

One of Monet’s paintings of the cathedral on a misty day hangs in the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen.

The above view of the Rouen Cathedral in full sunlight (1894) by Claude Monet belongs to the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

                                          The Courtyard restaurant of the Rouen Art Museum.

 Rouen’s Hotel de Ville, aka City Hall.
Street Scenes
  Detail of old stone carving…

Coming soon: Visiting Monet’s Garden at Giverny

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