Guide to Rouen in Normandy

Rouen is one of France's great historic cities

oldclockrouen
••• The Old Clock in Rouen, Normandy. © Mary Anne Evans, licensed to about.com

Why visit Rouen?

Rouen, the historic capital of Upper Normandy, is easy to get to, just 130 kilometers (81 miles) north west of Paris and within easy reach of the cross-channel ports. Its many attractions include a delightful old quarter to walk around, a splendid cathedral that the Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, painted 28 times over two years, 14 museums and excellent hotels and restaurants.

Rouen is one of France's top 20 most popular cities for international visitors.

Facts about Rouen

  • 108,000 inhabitants
  • In the Seine-Maritime Region of France (35)
  • Situated on the Seine where the river meets tidal sea waters, it is both a huge river and sea port
  • The Gustave Flaubert Bridge, the highest vertical lift in the world, rises 55 meters above the water allowing large vessels to enter the city
  • Ocean-going cruise ships can berth in Rouen
  • River cruises from Paris to Honfleur stop in Rouen

Getting There

Travel from London, the UK and Paris to Rouen.

By air
Beauvais Airport is a 90-minute drive from Rouen and offers flights to over 20 destinations in Europe on low-cost airlines.
Airport Website.

By train
From Paris St Lazare the direct train service takes 1 hour 10 minutes. There are various other options, some involving a change of train.

By car
From Paris take the Porte de Clignancourt, or the Porte de Clichy onto the A15 which will take you directly to Rouen.


Check out car hire. If you need a car for 21 days or more, check out the Renault Eurodrive Buy Back Car Leasing Scheme which the best value. 

Getting Around

City transportation in Rouen consists of a tram and a bus system. The metro has two lines running through the city center. Rouen is also served by TEOR buses.

You can also hire a bicycle through Cy’clic. Choose between 1 day, 7 days or longer with the first half hour free. With 20 cycle station points, it makes Rouen very accessible.
More on Rouen transport.

Weather in Rouen

The weather in Rouen is very like that in Paris, with hot summers and cold winters. Check the weather in Rouen today.

A Little Bit of History and Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)

Rouen’s history is tied in with the birth of Normandy. In 911, Rollo the Viking was baptized in Rouen, took the name of Robert and became the first Duke of Normandy. A far-sighted ruler, he helped the city prosper until the Hundred Years’ War (1337 to 1453) between the English and the French.

In 1418 Henry V of England conquered the town. Jeanne d'Arc rallied the French under Charles VII against the hated English Goddons (so called from their blasphemous phrase, ‘God damn’). She was taken prisoner at nearby Compiegne by the Burgundians and handed over to the English on Christmas Day 1430. The trial of Jeanne d'Arc was extraordinary -- this uneducated peasant girl ran rings around the duplicitous churchmen judging her.

On May 24th just outside the Abbey of St-Ouen, she was tied to the scaffold, then recanted, was granted her life but given life imprisonment.

The furious English threatened the French judges and through a typical betrayal she was again condemned to the stake. She was burned alive in the place du Vieux-Marche on May 30th, 1430. Her death and the manner of it acted as a wake-up call for the French and in 1449 Charles VII retook Rouen from the English. Jeanne d'Arc was rehabilitated in 1456 and in 1920 was canonized and made Patron Saint of France.

Rouen became a considerable industrial city, particularly through its cloth-making industry, and the city symbol remains a sheep as testimony.

Read all about the Historial Jeanne d'Arc in Rouen

Where to Stay in Rouen

The Hotel Bourgtheroulde is a five-star hotel right in the city center. It was originally built as the very grand house of the Le Roux family between 1499 and 1532 and has an ornate façade, full of hints and allusions to the past.

It’s just the place for a romantic break where you can live like royalty. There’s a spa, heated swimming pool, two restaurants and a bar and terrace.
15 Place de la Pucelle
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 35 14 50 50
Website

The Best Western Hotel De Dieppe has been run by the Gueret family since 1880. For a different dining experience, try the pressed Rouen duck in the restaurant.
Place Bernard Tissot (opposite the railway station)
Tel.: 00 33 (02) 35 71 96 00
Website

Le Cardinal is perfectly placed just near the cathedral. Small rooms in this family-run hotel and breakfast on the terrace in summer.
1 place Cathedrale
Tel.: 00 33 (02) 35 70 24 42
Website

Where to Eat in Rouen

  • Restaurant Gill
    In the middle of the old city, this award-winning small restaurant is the place for a celebratory dinner. Chef/owner Gilles Tournadre is a native to Normandy,championing the best local ingredients. Weekday menus are 35 euros, other times at 65 or 92 euros.
    8-9 quai de la Bourse
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 76 30 65 14
    Website
    Open lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday
    Closed mid-April to beginning of May, and first 3 weeks in August
  • La Couronne
    For a real step back into the past, book at the oldest inn in France. Way back when, this would have been the place to watch the burning of Jeanne d'Arc just outside in the market place.The building dates back to 1345 and is full of the right amount of creaking wooden floors, old staircases and series of rooms, with a great collection of photos of past customers on the walls. The adventurous should order the pressed duck.
    Menus 25, 33 and 48 euros
    31 pl. Vieux Marche
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 35 71 40 90
    Website
    Open daily lunch & dinner
  • Bistrot d’Adrian
    This jolly bistro with appropriate décor is the place for dishes like duck, sole meuniere, Normandy apple tart and home-made ice cream. Menus are 18.50 to 21.50 euros.
    37 pl. Vieux Marche
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 35 71 57 73
    Website

Attractions in Rouen

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame has to be your first stop in this charming medieval city. Don't miss seeing the ornate Old Clock, then make for the Museum of Fine Arts for one of France's best collection of Impressionist paintings, second only to the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. There's plenty else to see in this city of 14 museums, but one of my favorites is the Ceramics Museum.

More Information

Rouen Tourist Office
25 pl de la Cathedrale
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 32 08 32 40
Website
Open May to September Monday to Saturday 9am–7pm, Sundays and public holidays from 9:30am-12:30pm & 2-6pm
October to April Daily 9:30am-12:30pm & 1:30-6pm
Closed Jan 1st, May 1st, Nov 11th, December 25th