Meet in front of the Maison des Sciences et des Techniques, commonly known as Expotec 103. Accessible by car or public transport (Line T3 – Station “École d’Architecture”), we are welcomed by a member of the Expotec 103 association. The departure is made smoothly along the Robec, river crossing Rouen to the charming street Eau de Robec.
After a first stop near the ruins of the monastic Priory of the Rose, our guide gives us several geo-morphological details on the Seine valley and the formation of water sources. We learn moreover that the Seine valley hosts many springs that man had to channel in particular for its industrial use.
Near the Mill of Pannevert, hosting today a bread oven, our guide takes us on a journey through time, from the English camp of Henry V to the last lands of market gardening, through the description of the hunting parties of William the Conqueror.
This stop also allows us to understand the operation of a mill, its design and its particularities: materials, use of millstones, management of the speed of water … Amusing anecdote, the east of Rouen had many mills (more than 65 mills) for industrial purposes, the distribution of the river current had to be organized and monitored by river guards.
After a passage along a small river called the Clairette, we continue our way to discover new mills.
The guide suggests we take a river guard path. We leave in the footsteps of the former Rouen water police, previously in charge of monitoring the water level and the activity of the mills.
In a few minutes, we are immersed in a green environment, skirting the course of the river on a maintained but wild-looking path. We are then cut off from the surrounding urban life and set off to discover new things.
Our guide then introduces us to the mill, now private, of the former Lucien Fromage factory: a superb building, a witness to a flourishing industrial era in Rouen. This building, made of brick, currently houses the School of Architecture of Normandy and Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime.
The minutes pass and it is time for us to return to the starting point. We take the opportunity to discover the House of Science and Technology and exchange with the volunteers in activity.
This passage of the walk is very surprising because nature and its greenery are confronted with this imposing building, witness of a bygone era. Our guide returns to the strength of the textile market in Rouen and Darnétal in the past, explaining at the same time the strong presence of mills in this part of the Seine Valley.