Updated: Mar 20
What to See During Your Day in Rouen
Star of a 30-painting series by Claude Monet, the gorgeous, Gothic-style cathedral (also known as the Rouen Cathedral) was built starting in 1145, replacing an earlier, 11th-century Romanesque church. Construction was halted and delayed numerous times, due to fire and the French Religious Wars, continuing through the 19th century. Once it was adorned with its cast-iron spire in the 19th century, it was the tallest building in the world, until 1880 with the construction of the Cologne Cathedral.
You may have seen Monet’s many paintings of the cathedral, which capture differences in light throughout the day, hanging at such esteemed museums at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, The Met in New York City, The Broad in Los Angeles, The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, The National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade and The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Yet, nothing compares to the original.
Rue du Gros Horloge
Named for the “Great Clock” that you’ll see here - in operation since 1389, making it one of the oldest mechanisms in France! - this busy thoroughfare is lined with enticing shops, cafes and restaurants. The Gros Horloge itself is set in a Renaissance arch (where it has been since 1529) with the time, day of the week and phase of the moon depicted on both sides of the astronomical timepiece. The clock has inspired famous artists throughout the centuries, from author Victor Hugo to painted J.M.W. Turner.
A must-see historic spot to be sure, the Old Market Square is where Jean of Arc was burned alive on May 30, 1431. Look for the memorial - Le Bûcher by Jeanne d’Arc (“The Pyre of Joan of Arc”) - on the exact spot where this courageous French heroine, nicknamed the Maid of Orléans, was executed at the age of nineteen.
Notable for its flamboyant architecture and 80 stained-glass windows, the Abbatiale Saint-Ouen started life as a Benedictine abbey between the 14th and 16th century. While construction work started in 1318, it was interrupted by the Hundred Years War, and not completed until the 15th century.
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