Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rainy Day in Rouen, Thursday 8/26

Thursday was yet another alarm clock early day.  I thought we were on vacation! Well, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case--catches the train to Rouen.

A little story about our train tickets.......

We had purchased our train tickets to Rouen on Wednesday, as we had a little extra time before touring the Catacombs, and there was a nearby ticket boutique, as they call them here.  We walked in and a lovely young lady greeted us in French, of course.  I asked "parlais vou Englaise"?  She said yes, a little.  Great, I thought--we've got it made!  She asked where we wanted to go, and I said "Rouen" in my best French accent.  She said "pardon me"????  I repeated myself, using a little more "french", or so I thought.  Wrong.
Hmmmm, she said as she slid a slip of paper and a pen toward me, so I could write it down.  Humbled, I wrote it down.  Ahhh! She exclaimed--and then proceeded to hawk a lugi, at least that's exactly how she pronounced it!  I hadn't even come close--no wonder she had no idea where we wanted to go!  We all chuckled a little, and completed our ticket transaction without further embarrasment on my part.

Thursday morning, hard earned tickets in hand, we took the Metro to the BIG train Station-Gare St. Lazare.
We arrived in plenty of time to find our platform, check the reader board, and watch how other people validated their tickets prior to boarding the train.  We're nubies at this train stuff--and even managed to get on the wrong car!  Finally settled it our proper seats in the correct car, we were off to Rouen!

Roen is a mid-sized town (pop. 106,000) in the province of Normandy.  Rouen dates back to at least the 1400's, as it's main claim to fame is as the place where Joan of Arc was tried and burned at the stake in 1431.  It is also known for it's gothic cathedrals, notably Notre Dame, which Monet painted many times.

It's a charming city, full of narrow winding streets that were fun to explore:

The architecture in Rouen is quite different that in Paris, with many buildings that half timbered, and even leaning a bit:

We started with the Cathedral Notre Dame du Rouen.  Oh, my!  How to describe this beautiful place?  I've used all the superlatives I know in describing Paris, and words really aren't adequate.  First of all, it's huge!
And tall!

The interior is magnificant, with beautiful stained glass windows, soaring ceilings and amazing artwork:

There are several statues of saints:

After spending about an hour in the cathedral, we stepped outside to pouring rain!  We had one umbrella between us, that wasn't working too well.  We've been seeing umbrellas in shops all over, but could we find one today, when we really needed it?  We finally found a shop selling them, and bought a fairly ugly one for a fairly big price, but it did the job! 

We had read about an antique market held on Thursdays, and so decided to check it out.  It was across the river Seine, so we consulted our map, chose a pedestrian bridge to walk across.  Look at the strange art installation on this bridge--hopefully it's only temporary:

We found the antique market, and we were a little late,  most of the vendors had packed up and left already.  We poked around a bit, bought nothing, then decided it was lunch time.  We found a great sidewalk cafe, and sat ourselves and our weary feet down.  Our waitress was delightful!  We each ordered the lamb chops, which were just OK, but they were served with the most delicious haricourts verts--in other words--fancy french for green beans.  Desert was included with the prix fix lunch--it was called coffee gourmand, and it was wonderful.  It was a small creme brulee, a small dark chocolate silk pudding, and an espresso with a tiny dark chocolate on the side---- mmmmm good.

And here's the view from our table--can you see why we LOVE sidewalk cafes??

Well rested and well fed, we explored this side of Rouen a bit, it wasn't quite as pretty as the other area of town, Back across the river, and on to some Joan of Arc sites. here  is the church built (in recent times)  in her honor, it's very modern in it's design, and seems strangly out of place:

There is a cross, erected on the spot she was burned at the stake:

And a statue of Joan of Arc:

The last Joan of Arc site we visited was an ancient tower, which is all that's left of the building in which she was tried, convicted and sentenced to burn a the stake:

By now, it was raining hard again.  We were soaked, tired and happy to have seen Rouen and her beauty and history.  We wandered back to the train station, and another sidewalk cafe called our name--it was beer:30 for sure.  This time, we sat inside!

Sadly, it was time to leave Rouen and catch our train back to Paris.  We found the right car and seats with no problem this time.  We even snoozed a little--we were tired!

Another lovely, adventure filled day in France with my sweetie! 


  1. Oh my, I've typed 2 comments and for some reason my blogger says it can't complete my request to post.
    Will try again- Grandiose describes the Cathederal-especially the stained glass WOW. The bridge art sculpture looks like toothpicks! Rouen reminds me of SanFran-narrow windy streets and colorful close together buildings. Can't wait to see where you two spend this weekend.

  2. I love the sidewalk cafes...sat at many during my tour in Spain. Loved to watch people and just sit and drink espresso. The dessert you had looked totally yummy. How many miles have you walked so far? How are those shoes holding up? You both look relaxed and in your element. So good to see you both so happy. Cathederals are beautiful. Did the eiffel tower twinkle at you last night? This blog of yours rocks.