Pierre Corneille Museum, Petit-CouronnePierre Corneille Museum, Petit-Couronne
©Pierre Corneille Museum, Petit-Couronne|Benoit Eliot

Rouen in the books

We know and understand that Normandy has inspired many artists, be they painters, writers or sculptors. Out of love for Rouen, because they were born or lived there, some authors have not hesitated to make the Normandy capital the scene of their book. Let’s find some examples of literary works taking place entirely or partly in Rouen.

Rouen in the books,

to better imagine the story

To immerse oneself in a novel when one knows the places where it takes place, here is an interesting experience! The reading then takes on another dimension and allows the reader to better project himself into the heart of the scene. A description of Rouen in the nineteenth century, a murder on the banks of the Seine or a love story in a working-class district of the city … Enough to brighten the curiosity and stir up the desire to read!

Rouen in the books

of the 19th and 20th centuries
  • Stendhal, Mémoires d’un touriste, 1838

“What is admirable in Rouen is that the walls of all the houses are formed of large pieces of wood placed vertically a foot apart: the interval is filled by masonry. But the pieces of wood are not covered by the plaster; so that on all sides the eye sees sharp angles and vertical lines.”

  • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, 1857

“The hum of the foundries could be heard with the clear chimes of the churches standing in the mist. The trees of the boulevards, without leaves, made purple bushes in the middle of the houses, and the roofs, all gleaming with rain, shimmered unevenly, according to the height of the districts. Sometimes a gust of wind carried the clouds toward the Côte Sainte-Catherine, like airy waves breaking silently against a cliff.”

  • Guy De Maupassant,The Horla, 1886

“To the left, over there, Rouen, the vast city with its blue roofs, under the pointed people of the Gothic spires. They are innumerable, frail or broad, dominated by the cast-iron spire of the cathedral, and full of bells that ring in the blue air of the beautiful mornings, throwing to me their soft and distant iron hum, their brazen song that the breeze brings to me, sometimes louder and sometimes weaker […]”

  • Simone de Beauvoir,Anne, or when the spiritual takes precedence, 1979

“My window is open; against the pearl-gray sky stand out the massive silhouette of the Saint-Romain tower and the spire of the cathedral; it seems to me that I have been suddenly transported to the middle ages, so silent is life in this city bristling with Gothic churches […]”

    Rouen in the novels

    of the 21st century
    • Michel Giard, Hurling with the Wolves in Canteleu, 2003
    • Françoise Kermina, Where are the King’s Diamonds?: investigation in Rouen under the Terror, 2005

    • Michel Bussi, Dying on the Seine: the Armada thriller, 2008

    “You will undoubtedly manage to get this case buried, I trust you. But for you, the Armada is over. They are pure, they, the volunteers, the patrons, the elected officials. The Armada is their baby, it must not be touched… It is even the baby of all the people of Rouen…”

    • Philippe Feeny, Seine de crimes : roman, 2009
    • Nadine Mousselet,For your penance: A Laura Claes Investigation in Rouen, 2009

    • Aude Lhôtelais,The Rouen Killer Unveiled, 2012
    • Patrick Morel, Double murder in Rouen, 2012
    • Pierre Thiry, The mystery of the Gustave-Flaubert Bridge, 2012


    Happy reading!