Rouen 1

LINKS to other pages in the FRANCE PART ONE site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

NORMANDY (Honfleur and Deauville)
NORMANDY (D Day Beaches and Bayeux)
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ROUEN is the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) région, as well as a commune and the préfecture (capital) of the Seine-Maritime département.

Rouen and thirty six suburban communes of the metropolitan area form the Community of Agglomeration of Rouen Haute-Normandie, with 393,621 inhabitants at the 1999 census. Rouen was probably founded by the Romans, who called it Rotomagus, and was the chief city of the Secunda Provincia Lugdunensis under Constantine. In the 5th century it became the seat of the bishopric and later a capital of Neustria. In the 9th century, it was overrun by Normans and since 912 has been the capital of Normandy and residence of the dukes.

On April 16, 1203 Philippe Auguste entered Rouen and annexed Normandy to the French Kingdom in 1204. During the Hundred Years' War, on January 19, 1419, Rouen surrendered to Henry V of England who made Normandy a part of England. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen on May 30, 1431.

The city including the cathedral was badly damaged during World War II before, during and after the D-Day landings.

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The city is situated downstream from Paris on the River Seine.

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The Notre Dame cathedral was the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet, some of which are exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The picture depicts the west front. The main door, Porte Central, is embellished with sculptures (some decapitated) depicting the Family Tree of Jesus. The 12th century Porte St Jean and Porte St Etienne flank it.

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The Rue du Gros Horloge appears to be the most popular street in town. (The ubiquitous 'Macdonalds' is to be found here!) Tall, timber-framed mansions line the street which leads to the Vieux-Marché. It was in the market place that all condemned persons were executed in the Middle Ages and it was here that Jeanne d’Arc was burned alive on 30 May 1431. Her ashes thrown into the River Seine.

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Rouen is known as the "City of a Hundred Spires" since many of its important buildings are churches. Towering above them all is the highest spire in France which was constructed in 1876 - a cast-iron tour-de-force (excuse the pun!) rising 490 ft above the cathedral. During the storm of December 26th 1999 part of the spire fell and severely damaged the roof, and vaulted ceiling above the choir.

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The Gros Horloge is one of the great tourist attractions in Rouen. Not only for the clock but also for the rest of the building (seen in the background in the left hand picture) that was a both a belfry and town hall. .

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The clock mechanism was installed in 1389. The rest of the building (belfry and hall) was also erected during the 14th century. The clock faces didn't appear on both sides of the arch until 1527 when the Renaissance arch supporting the clock was rebuilt. A fountain was added to the site in 1456, to be replaced in 1733 with the present one.

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