Rouen is the capital city of Normandy, with 2,000 years of history …. an ancient place. Arrival in our port parking lot at 7 am. Watched as we backed up in our parking spot on the Seine River, next to the Tall Ships. The morning started clear with promise of rain, which came in buckets. We did some reading about the port and had a chat with the ambassador of the town who was on board providing information and maps to cruisers who wanted to do some sightseeing without an organized excursion.
Originally we had discussed going to Paris for the day, by train and back same day. It was not easy or simple to take the shuttle to the town then catch a taxi to the rail station in order to get an early train into Paris …. where to stop? And then return same day ….. some folks from the cruise decided to go to Paris and spend overnight while the ship was docked in Rouen. Some stayed two nights, went to Paris from Honfleur and would meet up with us again tomorrow before we depart for England.
Mary and I finished our jigsaw puzzle (monochromatic Venice), had some lunch and decided to take the shuttle in to Rouen to check out the highlights, Notre Dame Cathedral, Joan of Arc execution spot and the big clock (gros horloge). Armed with our map, water bottles, rain coats and optimism we caught the shuttle in to centre of the old town.
There had to be 6 to 12 river cruise boats lining the Seine. So many tourists out walking, the Armada 2019 starts tonight with 50 Tall Ships and countless white tents set up for vendors and information booths along the river. We are parked in a little different part of town than typically would be, due to the Tall Ship event. There promises to be fireworks just outside on the pier each night. This Armada in Rouen takes place every five years, one of the largest concentrations of sailing ships in the world.
The shuttle ride was slow on the way to town, with stops from traffic and pedestrians crossing. Likely about 3 km took almost 25 minutes. We were let out in a congested bus parking zone two blocks from the main Cathedral. That was our first planned stop. Massive, ornate, under construction …. it was absolutely spectacular, magnificent…. we are searching for words to describe it. Nothing comes close. Consecrated in 1063, epitome of development of gothic art since the 12th century on the foundation of a 4th century basilica. 11th century Romanesque edifice. 19th century cast-iron spire rises to a height of 151 meters, the tallest in France. Trying to take in the outside with photos. We open a small door, entrance is free. In we stepped and the fabulous huge pipe organ was playing.
I took about 3 pictures and had an allergic reaction, could not breathe, coughing and gasping …. I had to leave the church and get air outside. The rest of the photos were taken by Mary, and then we stayed outside. I was not able to recover enough to enter any other buildings in this city, however we walked for a few hours on the cobblestones, taking pics of half-timber houses, beautiful rugged doors, picturesque facades, a fabulous hat shop and even a central market-place displaying colourful blooms and some flea market items.
Great Clock: Gothic belfry, Renaissance archway and clock face and an 18th century fountain, inside is the 14th century mechanism, for the first bells of the city …. and views available to get an amazing panorama. We walk under and take photos from each angle. Wow.
Joan of Arc was burned at the stake at the old Market Place on 30 May 1431, marked today by a large cross. The church created on the site has two purposes, church to honor Saint Joan of Arc, and a civil memorial to commemorate the heroine. We went in and admired the stain glass.
We saw the Parlement de Normandie, Palau’s de Justice (Court House) from the outside. We missed the Musee des Beaux-Arts.
Opting to bring the shuttle back to the ship, with wind picking up and rain starting up again. A quick 10 minute drive back, passing countless hundreds, thousands of tourists packing the walkway along the river, umbrellas, heavy rain, leaves and twigs scattered along the way …. we were so lucky today to have virtually caught all the sunshine between the rain showers. We saw the beauty of the city, tasted the historical significance and enjoyed wandering down beautiful cobbled walkways.
The evening was spent on board the ship, we ate in the buffet area and talked. Tea, hot water, sparkling water, all adding comfort. Back to the room after dining venues had closed (the ship is staying in port overnight to 8 June in the evening …. then we set sail for England, a sea day in between).
I shared, reading aloud from a fabulous life-changing book I have been reading, “The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life” by Lynne Twist. This book has been downloaded to my Kindle reading app on my ipad.
Good night wherever you are. Wishing you were here. Missing my family. I will be home in a few days.
Second day in Rouen, plans to walk the Tall Ships.