Rouen sightseeing

Rouen sightseeing

Welcome to north-west France, in the Seine valley and in Rouen, the capital of Normandy. The enchanting river landscape of the Seine and the cultural heritage of Normandy concentrated in Rouen offer a lot of variety.

View from the cruise ship - Val de la Haye with the Colonne Napoléon

View from the cruise ship - Val de la Haye with the Colonne Napoléon

The historic old town of Rouen fell victim to heavy Allied bombing during World War II. Fortunately, hundreds of old half-timbered houses have been preserved. Walking through Rouen's old town is like walking through centuries of architectural development.

Rouen - half-timbered houses on rue Rollon
Rouen - Hotel on Place Martin Luther King
Rouen - the Place du Vieux Marché
Rouen - half-timbered houses on rue Martainville - next to the cathedral

We are short of time and there is so much to see. Rouen's churches, secular buildings and museums are well worth a visit.


It is said that the writer and politician Victor Hugo called Rouen the city of 100 steeples. The most important churches are:

Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral 

From our point of view, the Gothic cathedral is the most important building in the city. It is one of the most important places of worship in France and has seven towers alone. In the past it was the coronation site and burial place of the Norman dukes.

Cathedrals were seldom built in one go. Cathedrals took decades or centuries before they were considered complete. The construction of Rouen's Cathedral took more than 400 years to complete. The construction of the Romanus Tower (Saint Romain) was the first to begin around 1140. It was initially intended as a free-standing tower (campanile), later it was included in the construction of the cathedral

Rouen - Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral

Rouen - Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral

Notre-Dame de l'Assomption has the tallest bell tower in France at 151 meters. The Romanus Tower and the Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower) flank it. The memorable name Butterturm results from the form of financing. Believers were not allowed to eat butter during Lent. Those who did so acquired indulgence letters and thus made it possible to finance the construction of the tower.

Rouen - Main portal of the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral
Rouen - Facade of the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral
Rouen - Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Cathedral - side view
Rouen - Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral

The choir of the church houses the graves of the Dukes of Normandy. Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart's heart rests in a stone coffin in Rouen's Cathedral. The Archbishop's Palace is attached to the cathedral. The surrounding historical buildings have been preserved over the centuries in the shadow of the cathedral.

Place de la cathédrale

Saint-Quen Abbey Church 

Another important sacred building in Rouen is the Saint-Quen abbey church. It is located in the former Benedictine monastery. The church is 137 meters long and 26 meters wide. The vault height is 33 meters. The church, famous for its acoustics, has an organ that is valued well beyond Rouen.

Place du General de Gaulle

Rouen - two towering churches - St-Quen (left) and the cathedral (right)

Rouen - two towering churches - St-Quen (left) and the cathedral (right)

Église Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc 

The modern church, completed in 1979, was built as an ecclesiastical and civic monument in memory of Saint Joan of Arc. The church is on the Place du Vieux Marché, where the 19-year-old was executed.

Rouen - Église Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc
Rouen - Église Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc - statue
Rouen - Église Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc - stained glass window
Rouen - Église Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc - stained glass window

Normandy has always been linked to seafaring. This is probably why the architecture of the church is reminiscent of an overturned boat. Inside, Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc looks matter-of-fact and sober. Noteworthy are the thirteen stained glass windows from the 16th century in the church of St Vincent, which was destroyed in a bombing in 1944.

Old Market Square





Saint Maclou Catholic Church 

The Saint Maclou church, built in the late Gothic style, borders the antique dealers' quarter. The construction of the church began in 1437. The central portals dedicated to the Baptism of Christ, the Good Shepherd and the Virgin Mary are particularly good.

Place Barthelemy

Rouen - Place Barthélemy

Rouen - Place Barthélemy

Secular buildings

Among the secular buildings that are worth seeing in Rouen are the Palace of Justice, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the archway with the Le Gros Horloge astronomical clock and, last but not least, the hundreds of attractive half-timbered buildings.

Tourist office 

Opposite the cathedral is a splendidly ornate building erected in the first half of the 16th century. It is used by the Rouen-Seine Tourist Office. The impressionist Claude Monet painted part of his cathedral cycle on the first floor.

Place de la cathédrale

Rouen - the seat of the Rouen Normandie Tourisme on the Place de la Cathédrale

Rouen - the seat of the Rouen Normandie Tourisme on the Place de la Cathédrale

Palace of Justice 

With the Palace of Justice, Rouen has the most important Gothic secular building in France. The monumental structure was built on the remains of the former Jewish quarter. The magnificent building, which has been in use since 1515, was originally the seat of the Norman Parliament. After the French Revolution it was used as a palace of justice and an accounting chamber. The Palace of Justice is an outstanding example of medieval architecture.

Marshal Foch Square

The Big Clock 

A special landmark of Rouen is the great astronomical clock. It is set into a 14th century archway spanning the pedestrian zone of Rue du Gros Horloge.

Rouen - Rue du Gros Horloge
Rouen - Le Gros Horloge

With its artfully designed dials measuring 2,50 meters in diameter, it is one of the oldest watch mechanisms in Europe. For more than half a millennium, from 1389 to 1928, the movement worked without a break before it needed repair. The tip of the hour hand, the only clock hand, is adorned with a lamb, the city's heraldic animal. Above the dial, a ball shows the phases of the moon. Below the dial, the planets of our solar system symbolize the respective days of the week. A small museum in the bell tower provides an insight into the marvel.

Rue du Gros Horloge 


Eight museums are included in the list of the Réunion des Musées Métropolitains Rouen Normandie. There are also other unnamed institutions. We consider the following municipal collections to be the most important.

Museum of Fine Arts 

Anyone looking for a rich collection of Impressionist paintings, sculptures, drawings and objects should visit the Musée des Beaux-Art. The museum mainly shows paintings from the 15th to 20th centuries. Some of the outstanding artists represented there are Caravaggio, Velazquez, Modigliani, Monet and Sisley.

Esplanade Marcel Duchamp
Entrance fee: free access to the permanent collections

Musee de la Ceramique

Lovers of porcelain and ceramic work are drawn to the Musée de la Céramique. The extensive collection presents the manufacture of fine ceramics in Rouen. Pieces from other manufacturers are also on display.

Rue de Jeanne d'Arc 94 or Rue Faucon 1

Historial Joan of Arc 

The museum, located in a part of the archbishop's palace, depicts the life and death of Joan of Arc using audio-visual technology. The future French national heroine helped liberate Rouen, which was occupied by the British, in the so-called "Hundred Years War". She was betrayed and handed over to the English for Judas wages. The Bishop of Beauvais, who felt close to the English, tried her and put her death at the stake in 1431.

7 rue Saint Romain
Entry price: 10,50 euros.

Rouen - Rue Saint Romain
Rouen - Half-timbered on Rue Saint-Romain


Witnesses of the modern age 

Six bridges span the Seine in Rouen.

Pont Flaubert 

The last Pont Flaubert to go into service in September 2008 represents a step towards the 21th century. With a height of 86 meters, it is the highest lifting bridge in the world. The passage width is 100 meters. In the rest position, the headroom measures ten meters; When open, ships up to 55 meters high pass the bridge. The two moving track elements each weigh 1.200 tons.

Rouen-Pont Flaubert

Rouen-Pont Flaubert

Armada Harbor Festival 

One of the biggest events in Normandy is the Armada Harbor Festival, which takes place every XNUMX to XNUMX years in Rouen. Tall ships, smaller sailing ships, submarines and other warships from all over the world have been coming to Rouen for XNUMX years. The windjammer and the grand closing parade attract millions of onlookers. The next meeting will take place on May, 8 to 18, 2023.

Updated Aug 2020



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