Details of the Gros-Horloge, RouenDetails of the Gros-Horloge, Rouen
©Details of the Gros-Horloge, Rouen

To the clocks of time 3000 years of History

We can say that Rouen is a complete city! From the Vikings to the Reconstruction, all eras and styles are represented. Hold on to the clocks of time, the trip is sensational because you can still feel all these historical vibrations today. From the Big Clock to the Parliament and the dazzling Cathedral, we take you for a ride!

Let us tell you about the historical adventures of the city of Rouen

Discover the city’s must-see sites with our guide-lecturers and the Rouen and its treasures tour.

Viking spirit, are you there?

Rollon is indeed the first Norman! TheViking chief was the first duke of Normandy and made Rouen his capital. So go take a tour of the Musée des antiquités de Rouen. Swords and fibulae made of turtle shells give us precious clues about this Viking period.

At the Musée maritime, we embark on an expedition with these people from the North and every summer, the Cathedral of Rouen is adorned with light and its facades tell the story of the Viking epic in a spellbinding show (creation “Viking” projected following the Cathedral of Light programming). The building also contains an empty recumbent of Rollon and the remains of his son, Guillaume Longue-Épée. And to feel the presence of the great Viking leader, enter the Forêt de Roumare, west of Rouen. It is said that Rollon hung his golden bracelets from the branches of a tree…

Medieval atmosphere of the half-timberings at Joan of Arc

Rouen has retained a crazy charm with its half-timbered houses and its pedestrian walkways that retain an undeniable cachet. The half-timbered houses are jewels of carpentry. Rouen is home to nearly two thousand and has restored more than a thousand. The oldest ones date from the fourteenth century. Others are much more recent as we build homes of this type as far back as the 19th century.

Look up the street of the Gros-Horloge, arguably the most beautiful, imposing and colorful storefront, and wander through thequartier des Antiquaires, which is full of equally quaint specimens. It is also the memory of Jeanne d’Arc that vibrates in the streets of Rouen. The Historial, the Donjon, the bûcher de la Place du Vieux Marchéor the Church of Joan of Arc are must-see locations. For a complete medieval adventure, take the route des abbayes, from the Saint-Ouen Abbey Church in downtown Rouen to the abbaye de Jumièges and that of Saint-Martin de Boscherville in the boucles of the Seine with its sumptuous landscapes.

Architectural jewels that stand the test of time

What majesty and finesse in the lacework of the façades of the Parliament of Normandy! It is the most important civil Gothic building in France. It dates from the late Middle Ages and has survived all the centuries until the World War II which marked its pulpit. The visible impacts on some of its stones bear witness to the bombings the city suffered during its liberation in 1944.

The stones of theCathedral also tell the epic story of a living building, in perpetual evolution since the beginning of its construction in the 12th century. See how its spire rises to 151 meters! Linger in the Church of Saint-Maclou, one of the most beautiful testimonies of the Flamboyant Gothic and in the Aster Saint-Maclou with its thousand metamorphoses. Hear the story of the Bureau des Finances, current home of the Office of Tourism. And if there is a monument dedicated to time, it is the Gros-Horloge, which houses the city’s bells and one of the oldest clock mechanisms in Europe.

Private mansions to fall in love with

There are nearly a hundred of them lining the alleys of Rouen and 26 of them are protected. Their charm remains discreet, but Rouen is also famous for its magnificent demeures with a classical look that made the golden age of merchants and that saw the light of day from the end of the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century. The Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful stone mansions of the Renaissance in Rouen with its “galerie d’Aumale”, adorned with bas-reliefs carved into the limestone that show a historical scene contemporary to the monument: the interview of the camp of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. Discover the Hôtel d’Hocqueville, which today houses the Musée de la Céramiqueor the Hôtel Levavasseur, rue Stanislas Girardin, the spectacular home of a spinning mill owner.

Unusual visits

In the secrets of the great lady

In Rouen, History is lived out on a daily basis and strolling is inseparable from the discovery of heritage. Want to have a drink? The terraces overlook architectural jewels. A little shopping moment? Shops line the alleys with wood-framed houses. Time for a lunch break? Enter the Aître Saint-Maclou or sit down at the many restaurants in the historic Place du Vieux Marché or that of La Pucelle.

The Seine is undoubtedly the living artery most symbolic of Rouen’s History. Ridden by the Vikings, borrowed by the colons on their way to great expeditions, it is today animated by the rich activity of the port and the festive atmosphere of its quaysides fitted out as a real promenade for relaxation and leisure.