Rouen the capital of Upper Normandy certainly has a lot of history and gets a lot of rain (don’t forget your umbrella and be ready to dive into the past).
This cloudy and at times very rainy medieval city was built by the Romans and put on the map due to the trail and execution of Joan of Arc. Today this city is the fourth largest port in France and is well knowing for its Notre-Dame Cathedral, historical museums and the very smelly cheese that can be purchased at the market. The city center seems to have not changed much from the medieval times, walking along the small bricked streets feels nostalgic. My mom kept on saying that we are walking the same streets as Joan of Arc did, touching the same stones and living like we are back in the dark ages, except of course we weren’t. The site of by passing cars and mobs of tourist with flashing cameras surely ruined what we had imagined. Although taking a dip back in time is not a problem in this old metropolis.
Starting with Historical Jeanne d’Arc Museum. It’s the first of many attractions that will transform you back in time and give you a glimpse into the life of a young girl who fought for the French in a war against the English. Rouen was the city where Joan of Arc spent the remainder of her life. Held captive in the Tour de la Pucelle, tried over the course of three months and later burned alive at place du Vieux-Marché for her supposed crimes. Nowadays she is considered a legend and Frances greatest religious heroine. For that very reason, the city of Rouen has built a museum to honor and showcase all that Joan has done during her very short life.
The museum futures a movie, that is about an hour long and takes you from the begging of Joan’s life to her final days in Prison. The concept of the movie theater is very well thought out and interesting. It isn’t like one of those boring educational movies that teachers would show in school. The movie is shown in different rooms using a 3D projector, each room representing a different stage of Joan’s life. By casting the movie onto the walls and the ceiling, viewers get to be part of the scene feeling like they are at that time witnessing the action.
Please note that the movie is in French; however, audio guides are provided in a few different languages. As well there will be a lot of walking and a spiral staircase, there is a working elevator.
It seems as if almost everything around this city revolves around the life of Joan of Arc and the impact she had on France. Notre-Dame Cathedral is no exception. Talented and creative individuals have created a fantastic sound and light show that reflects against Basilica showcasing the life of Joan of Arc and the Vikings (who have invaded Normandy a few times in the 9th century). There are two different light shows, with the first one starting at 11 pm. Each show is approximately 10 to 12 minutes long and as well the admission is free. Families, tourist, and residents can all enjoy the beautiful display on the Cathedra.
Other Places to Visit:
Place du Vieux-Marché is where the memorial Church of Ste-Jeanne is located. It sits next to the spot where Joan of Arc was burnt. Stepping into the oddly shaped church structure feels, almost like you are inside of a fire. It said that the structure represents two things either an upside-down ship or the flames that devoured Joan. Despite this, walking around the church to admire the fish-shaped windows is a must.
Tour Jeanne d’Arc is all that is left of the Castle of Philippe-Auguste. As well this tour once was a part of the prison where Joan was held until her death. Today visitors can climb to the top of a spiral staircase to gaze out the tiny windows on to Rouen. Get a glimpse of city structure and the red roofs.
Musée des Beaux-Arts carries a great permeant collection and as well as frequent temporary exhibitions. While in Rouen I had the pleasure of viewing Pablo Picasso exhibit. Witnessing the work and creations of one of the most famous and talented artists of the 20th century was beyond remarkable.