Holiday in Rouen
Rouen is inextricably bound up with the memory of Joan of Arc, who was burned alive after being convicted of heresy and witchcraft in 1431. The impressive Archbishop's Palace has a Historical Exhibition devoted to her memory, and its cutting-edge technology will let you relive the legend as if you were there.
The heart of Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Normandy, still beats symbolically in the flamboyant Notre-Dame Cathedral; a Gothic gem, it has the tallest spire in France and contains the tombs of the Dukes of Normandy. The belfry houses the city's bells and the oldest clock mechanism in Europe.
The city centre is pedestrianised, which is perfect for wandering around admiring Rouen's 2000 half-timbered houses, also known as maisons à pans de bois in French.
If you like beautiful things, Rouen has the third highest number of antique shops in France. Just walking down the very traditional rue Damiette will make you want to take home a souvenir full of history.
The towpaths of the vallée de Seine and the cathedrals of Rouen inspired Monet, Sissley, Gauguin and Picasso. The Depeaux gallery in Rouen's Musée des Beaux-Arts is home to the second largest Impressionist collection in France, including works by young painters of the Rouen school, who brought out the real beauty of the Normandy bocage. As for literature, Flaubert and Corneille hail from the city; a perfect opportunity to rediscover their writing while enjoying a glass of Calvados or a bowl of local cider.
All around Rouen you'll be charmed by the verdant landscapes that feature beautiful abbeys, such as the Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen or the Roman Abbey of Saint-Georges, Boscherville. You can also enjoy a panoramic view over the Seine and the charming jardins médicinaux.
As the capital of Normandy, Rouen is easily accessible via motorways A13, A28 and A29. There are four airports nearby (Rouen, Caen, Deauville and Beauvais) and a train station, one and a half hour's journey from Paris.