Experience the monumentalof its size and the elegance of its sculptures...
Admire its spire, the highest in France or its carillon, among the most important in France. Discover its history, which tells a succession of eras since its Romanesque foundations. Soak up its flamboyance in sensory, unusual or candlelight tours.
One of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in the world
It is an exceptional journey through the Gothic period that the Cathedral of Rouen Notre Dame offers us. One can follow the evolution of the style over several centuries. The St. Roman Tower from the 12th century, the portal of the Booksellers and the portal of the Calender from the 14th century, the western facade and the Butter Tower from the 15th and 16th centuries as well as the cast iron spire from the 19th century. Admire the beauty of its façade 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 annex buildings.
The highest spire in Franceand the heart of a king
The lantern tower is topped by a cast-iron spire that rises to 151m. It is the highest in France. Destroyed by lightning in 1822, it was imagined by the architect Jean-Antoine Alavoine who then proposed to use cast iron, a very modern material for the time, less combustible than wood and lighter than stone. At the time of its inauguration, the spire was even the highest in the world! Inside the cathedral, in the choir, are the burial place of Rollo, founder of the duchy of Normandy, and the heart of Richard the Lionheart who had it deposited here in “remembrance of love for Normandy.”
A guided tourthat appeals to your senses
What if we told you to grab a mirror and a piece of 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.
An exceptional carillon
It’s 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 himself allows you to observe the prodigious mechanics of the instrument up close. We discover the keyboard composed of keys that the carillonneur presses with his fists to activate the 64 bells that can be heard up to 5km away. Each of them has a name: Joan of Arc, Germaine, … It’s up to you to discover them!
Unusual visitsIn 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!