Saturday 18 May 2019
The rain that seemed inevitable over the last couple of humid days is rattling on the roof, but I was already on my way back to the van having enjoyed much of what Rouen has to offer. I was intending to get my bike and follow the riverside paths; maybe tomorrow.
I think someone knocked on Rouen’s door one evening and said, “Hi, I’m Norman, we’ve been building cathedrals in the area and we’ve got a couple left over on the back of the cart, and a few good-sized churches. I can do you a good price.” And Rouen bought the lot.
There are so many in the centre that when I tried to show all the steeples, there was always a couple hidden behind others. There’s another just down the river.
And these are the ones that break the skyline; there are many normal sized churches that don’t. Just behind the Musée des Beaux-Arts you could lean on one church and bounce a ball off another. Those churches are now museums, even Rouen knows when enough is enough.
I had to pop into Rouen Cathedral. It is huge.
You could take off and land a small plane.
The buildings in top photo are representative of what the centre of the city is made up of.
This is the Gros Horloge, a clock from the renaissance.
It stands between a clutch of cathedrals and
the church of Saint Joan of Arc. It was completed in 1979 (like they needed another church) in the center of the ancient market square. This is the place where Joan of Arc, if I got the translation right, burned her steak in 1431.
All this in the first hour. On to the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
At this point I usually post examples of the gallery‘s collection, but suffice to say it covers five hundred years to the early twentieth century, is huge, beautifully presented in a wonderful building. It’s free, as is the brilliant WiFi – I rely on gallery WiFi to update my phone and apps to save my data.
As with the Louvre in Lens, and it seems with many galleries, the permanent collection is free but special exhibitions attract a charge. There was an exhibition of the artist Braque. He had a house in Varengeville-sur-Mer, just down the coast from Dieppe, where other artists hung out. There were pieces from all of them. Particularly pleasing was this wire sculpture by the sculptor Calder of the artist Miro, hung in a corner to show the shadows.
I left the art gallery and found this nearby.
It’s the last vestige of Rouen castle, or ruin castle, called Le Donjon. The visitor information says Joan of Arc was taken to this tower and threatened with torture. It is another place free to visit, and you can climb the three floors to the roof.
It was used by the Germans during the war and traces of camouflage paint can still be seen.
Rouen is recommended. There are many more museums and places of interest, but it also warrants sitting around and enjoying the atmosphere.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings.