Sculptures - Facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral in RouenSculptures - Facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rouen
©Sculptures - Facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rouen
Intimate and flamboyant

The Cathedral

It is one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in the world thanks to the series of paintings that Claude Monet, the master of the Impressionists, dedicated to it. In the heart of the historic city, Rouen’s cathedral sums up the evolution of Gothic art, since the beginning of its construction in the 12th century, on the foundations of a 4th century basilica and an 11th century Romanesque complex. Destroyed during the Viking invasions in 841 and then partially, in 1944, by the Allied bombings, it is a living building in perpetual evolution. It is also considered “the most human of cathedrals” because of its asymmetrical western façade, a true testimony to 700 years of architectural evolution, the fruit of the labor of several generations of craftsmen.

A flamboyant icon

Admire the 12th century Saint-Romain tower which houses the most imposing carillon in France. Observe the decorations of the portal of the Booksellers and that of the Calende dating from the 14th century. Contemplate the beauty of the western façade with its unusual width of 61m and its 70 sculpted figures. Enjoy the Butter Tower which, since the 16th century, has been named after the donations made by diocesans to obtain the right to eat butter during Lent. And be stunned by the cast iron spire, built in the 19th century, which rises to 151m.

One of the gothic cathedrals

the most famous in the world

It is an exceptional journey into the Gothic period that the Rouen Notre Dame Cathedral offers us. One can follow the evolution of the style over several centuries. The Saint-Romain tower from the 12th century, the portal of the Booksellers and the portal of the Calende from the 14th century, the western facade and the tower of Butter from the 15th and 16th centuries as well as the cast iron spire from the 19th century. Admire the beauty of its facade with an unusual width of 61m. It is richly decorated with 70 figures, sculpted between 1362 and 1421. Rouen Cathedral also has the particularity, rare in France, of preserving its archiepiscopal palace and its annex buildings.

A guided tour

that appeals to your senses

What if we told you to grab a mirror and chalk to tour the cathedral? The “Cathedral Measures and Excesses” guided tour is unprecedented and appeals to your senses. Feel the vertigo of the monument’s dimensions, soak up the resonance of its acoustics and play with the principles of its architectureGothic. Equipped with rope, headphones and various tools, you are the actor of your visit. Nave, transept, choir have no more secrets for you. You become aware, sensorially, of the richness of this exceptional building.

An emotional beauty

Claude Monet made no mistake about it. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the Rouen Cathedral, he painted it tirelessly in series of paintings that became masterpieces that toured the world. Between 1892 and 1893, the master of Impressionism painted the monument from different vantage points and at different times of day. In particular, he depicts the cathedral as seen from the Albanian courtyard. These canvases were first done outdoors, then in a studio on the second floor of the Finance Office, the current tourist information point in Rouen. It produces twenty-eight views of the western portal at different times of the day according to variations in light.

Thus, he writes:

As long as the sun is on it, there will be as many ways of being Rouen Cathedral as man can make divisions in time.

Claude Monnet

An exceptional carillon

It is the most imposing in France and has been fully restored for the pleasure of the ears and eyes of visitors. For those who would like to approach it up close, you have to climb the 150 steps of the St. Romai Towern to reach the famous carillon! A tour with a guide and the carillonneur in person allows you to observe the prodigious mechanics of the instrument up close. We discover the keyboard made up of keys that the carillonneur presses with his fists to operate the 64 bells that can be heard for 5km around. Each of them has a name: Joan of Arc, Germaine, … It’s up to you to discover them!

Unusual visits

In the secrets of the great lady

Want to go down into the cathedral’s remains? Some places, usually closed to the public, open up during “Unusual Cathedral” tours, revealing a little more of the prestigious building. Thus, one can enter the Virgin Chapel or rush into the Romanesque crypt to go back to the source of the monument’s construction on which the builders based their work, around the year 1000, to build the Gothic edifice. A candlelight tour “If Objects Could Talk” takes you, by night, to meet the cathedral’s inhabitants.

Cathedral of light

Every summer, at dusk, the cathedral metamorphoses into a sound and light show of great beauty. The themes change regularly, taking us into the epic of Joan of Arc, the Viking adventure or the impressionist movement. Collections always magical at the crossroads of history and modernity. The new technologies of these monumental projections make this giant of Rouen’s heritage vibrate. You will dream, eyes wide open!