Rouen is the capital of the French region of Upper Normandy and situated on the River Seine, approximately 90 minutes drive northwest (135 km) from the centre of Paris. The city has a population of 110,000 and its metropolitan area includes some 520,000 inhabitants. It is where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake, but the main reason for visiting is its incredible cathedral that inspired Monet to paint over 30 canvases. Rouen was the home of the author, Gustave Flaubert.
From Paris, Rouen is approximately an hour and a half's drive (135 km) north-west from the centre of the French capital, the fastest route including the A13 motorway (note: this a toll road). An alternative route would include the N14 slightly further to the north.
From the Channel port city of Dieppe, Rouen is approximately an hour's drive (66 km) south along the N27.
From the French end of the Eurotunnel, Rouen is approximately a 2 hour drive (208 km) using the E402.
From other major centres in Normandy, Rouen is respectively 90 km (1 hr 10 mins) from Le Havre, 128 km (1 hr 25 mins) from Caen, 156 km (1 hr 45 mins) from Bayeux and 249 km (2 hr 45 mins) from Cherbourg.
Several trains depart from the St Lazare Station in Paris for Rouen on a daily basis. Tickets cost around 21 euros and can be purchased at the station immediately beforehand. Travel time is about 1hr 15min. For schedules, visit SNCF travel.
Note that the train posting in Paris St-Lazare can be confusing to the first time traveler. The train platform number ("la voie") is not posted unil 15-20 minutes before the departure, so do not panic if you arrive earlier than that. Look for the train heading to Le Havre or Dieppe which will be leaving from the platforms to the right as you enter the concourse. Do not forget to punch ("composter") your ticket in one of the yellow machines before boarding. This will validate your ticket.
The city center is compact and all sights can easily be seen by foot. There are city buses as well as a light rail line which heads north to south.
Velo-R north of the Seine on Avenue Jeanne D' Arc (near the metro station) rents bikes for 1-2 Euro per day. The city also has an official bicycle rental scheme where you can rent a bike at one location and drop it off at another.
A scooter shop on Avenue De Bretagne no. 18 rents scooters but they need to be reserved ahead of time. There is also an Avis in town.
Rouen Cathedral (la cathédrale de Rouen) . A stunning building that dates back to the 4th Century and is a wonderful mixture of various architectural styles since then. A new spire built in the 19th Century meant that it briefly qualified as the tallest building in the world. The facade of the cathedral was famously painted by Claude Monet at various times during the day - like his Haystacks series of paintings - capturing the subject in a variety of lights. Richard the Lionheart's heart is kept in one of the tombs here. In the summer after dark the city puts on a light show projecting some of Monet's cathedral paintings onto the facade of the cathedral itself, each showing lasts approximately 10 minutes and runs until about midnight.
Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in the center of la vieille ville. A simple field of wildflowers marks the spot of her martyrdom. Next to it is the modern Eglise de Jeanne d'Arc.
The Big Clock (le gros horloge) recently restored, located in the middle of the rue du Gros Horloge. Climb to the top for a beautiful view of the city.
The birthplace of writer Gustave Flaubert, best known for his scandalous novel Madame Bovary, has been converted into a museum of his life and of 19th century medicine (his father and brother were doctors). It is located at 1, rue Lecat, off Boulevard des Belges and not far from place Cauchoise. One can also visit the birthplace of playwright Pierre Corneille at 4, rue de la Pie, a moment's walk from Vieux Marche.
The magnificent Gothic Abbatiale St-Ouen is not to be missed. It is next to the Hotel de Ville at the end of Rue de la Republique.
Aitre St-Maclou, 184 rue Martainville, ☎ 02-35-71-71-72. A former mass cemetery during the Black Plague, it was turned into a boy school in the 18th century. Go to see the macabre building ornamentation such as skulls, bones, shovels, etc... all reminders of the buildings grim past.edit
Get centered at Tapovan Normandy: Yoga & Ayurvedic Massage Centre. Hameau de Anneville, 76540 Sassetot le Mauconduit. +33 1 45 77 90 59. This ayurvedic centre is set in a peaceful natural setting 60 km nortwest of Rouen. Week-long treatments and training in hatha & nada yoga, reiki, ayurvedic/oil massage, Shirodhara (oil treatments), vegetarian cooking, pre/post-natal massage, etc. International colloquium in May. Closed in winter(?)
Rouen has many biking trails and forests nearby. There is a trail on the north side of the Seine to the Foret Roumare.
Most of the tourist restaurants are located near the Eglise Sainte Jenne D'Arc. They are likely to be open Sunday when most other restaurants are closed. There are also shops, markets, and patisseries in that square and scattered throughout Rouen to purchase food. Many are open Sunday as well.
L'Orangerie, 2 Rue Thomas Corneille 76000 Rouen. Typical French cuisine. Nice setting on busy weekendsedit
Le p'tit Paul, 5 place de la Cathedrale (southern part of the cathedral square). Same management as the Brasserie Paul just a few doors away, this offers lighter meals. The Quiche Lorraine is not to be missed. edit
Alive Hotel de Quebec is a clean, comfortable and friendly city centre hotel. It is modestly priced, despite being located just a few minutes walk from the river and Cathedral. This hotel also has arrangements with several local restaurants and can organise "Soirées D'Etape", which include a room, breakfast and evening meal at a restaurant (Note: the hotel has no restaurant itself).
Hotel Le Morand, rue Morand (midway between the station and the cathedral), ☎ 02 35714607 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 02 35714626), . checkin: Noon; checkout: 11.00. Quiet conveniently located hotel. Delightful breakfast served in oak-beamed dining room.€50-60. edit
Ferme du Coquetot B&B. Ferme du Coquetot is a B&B set on a farm 15 minutes from Rouen. The owners may invite you to see the milking and learn about the farm. Fresh farm products are available for dinner (table d'hotes on booking, 16€ per person) or for breakfast.
Ermitage Bouquet Hotel - Rouen, France (3 star hotel), 58 rue Bouquet, 76000 Rouen,, ☎ +33 (0)2 32 12 30 40, . checkin: 12am; checkout: 10am. Offers 10 rooms and 3 suites (some with fireplace), furnished in Charles X style with modern facilities (hydro shower or whirlpool bath, Wifi, air conditioning, electric shutters, etc...). The staff are very helpful.95€-160€. (49.4501,1.0892)edit
Château du Bosc Theroulde, Route du Bosc Theroulde - 76710 Bosc Theroulde, ☎ 02 35 81 35 54, . checkin: 15.00; checkout: 12.00. B&B 8 miles from the city center,within easy access from the A-28-A29-A151 motorways, this is an elegant Napoleon III style building in a fully secured walled park of 4 ha.80€. (49.55,1.116667)edit.
Hote Versan, close to the Hotel de Ville, 3, Rue Jean Lecanuet 76000, Tél: 02.35.07.77.07. Comfortable, clean and friendly. parking in underground car park. Very close to town centre, Cathederal, restaurants shops.
The whole Norman countryside, coast, and the Seine valley are spectacular with beautiful peaceful green pastures and forests, white cliffs, and including such famous sites as the cliff-arches of Etretat.
An ideal half-day trip would include Les Andelys, a picturesque village with an impressive castle just south of Rouen
Next stop could be the little 17-th century harbor of Honfleur (90 km west)
Le Havre and its modern architecture which belongs to the prestigious Unesco World Heritage List (regular trains running from Rouen)Visit Le Havre page on the site to get a better view of western Normandy
From Rouen station you can reach Bayeux and its impressive tapestry. It is a two-hour train ride and is only 30 minutes from the D-Day beaches. Additionally, busy Lille, chock full of museums and an enormous flea market in early September, lies to the North; about two hours on the train, 30€ each way.
Vernon and Monet's home at Giverny are both about 40 minutes away on the train (direction of Paris, less than 20€).