The 17 best sights of Rouen – description, photos, map

17 Rouen tourist attractions recommended to visit

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Rouen, one of the capitals of Normandy, is a vibrant city characterized by beautiful architecture, creative minds and a storied past. Whether you visit one of its famous monuments, explore its fascinating history or simply get lost in its colorful streets, this is a city you’re sure to find interesting.

Before you hit the road, check out our list of the top 18 attractions in Rouen, a gorgeous city in France.

Joan of Arc Historic Site

Historic complex of Jeanne d

Joan of Arc Historic Site | Photo: Julien Chatelain / Flickr.

For an introduction to the great heroine of the 15th century and the events that made her famous and soon to be condemned, do not miss this magnificent place.

This is no ordinary museum, but rather a fascinating theatrical immersion, where you walk through medieval corridors, watching and listening through headphones with an audio guide, a dramatic retelling of Jeanne’s visions, victories and trials that determined her fate, and the mythologizing that followed in the years following her death.

It is no coincidence that the complex is located in the part of the archbishop’s palace where Jeanne was most likely condemned and sentenced to death in 1431.

Address: Historial Jeanne d’Arc, Rue Saint-Romain, Rouen, France.

Saint-Ouen Church

Church of Saint-Ouen

Saint-Ouen Church | Photo: Jorge Láscar / Flickr.

This mostly vacant 14th-century abbey is a magnificently sublime and rather stunning example of the Rayonnant Gothic style. It has a delightful interior, illuminated by light streaming through magnificent stained-glass windows and is a truly stunning sight.

You can enter through the splendid garden on the south side of Via Foulkes.

The address is Abbatiale Saint-Ouen, Place du Général de Gaulle, Rouen, France.

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral | Photo: Frédéric BISSON / Flickr.

The stunning Gothic cathedral of Rouen, built between the late 12th and 16th centuries, was the subject of a cycle of paintings by Monet depicting Notre Dame at different times of day and year. As the story goes, the construction of the 75-meter-high Tour de Berre or “Butter Tower” was financed by the locals in exchange for being allowed to eat butter during Lent.

Every evening at 11 p.m. you can enjoy a magnificent sound and light spectacle projected on the facade of the building. The show runs until the end of September.

Note the spectacular view of the lavishly decorated staircase of the Bibliothèque du Chapitre. Its first two flights were created as early as the fifteenth century, while the two upper flights were not added until the eighteenth century.

Address: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, Place de la Cathédrale, Rouen, France.

Panorama XXL Museum

Panorama XXL Museum

Panorama XXL Museum.

Panorama XXL is a large circular column on the seafront that is a large-scale 360-degree exhibition offering an in-depth exploration of a single amazing landscape created through photographs, drawings, digital images and recorded sound.

In past years, the Great Barrier Reef, Amazonia, Ancient Rome and Rouen 1431 have been shown here – often with sunrises and sunsets generating different moods as well as storms. The 15-meter-high observation deck in the center of the hall is the perfect vantage point for viewing the exhibit.

Address: Panorama XXL, Quai de Boisguilbert, Rouen, France.

Saint-Macloux Church

Sainte-Macloux Church

Церковь Святого Маклу. | Фото: János Korom Dr. >13 Million views / Flickr.

This striking example of a Gothic-style church was built between 1437 and 1521, but much of its decoration dates back to the Renaissance. The church was badly damaged during World War II, but was later rebuilt.

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Note the detailed wooden panels of the porch, and how many of the statues on the outer stonework of the church lost their heads as victims of the French Wars of Religion. The half-timbered houses, which lean at the most interesting angles, can be found in the neighboring alleys.

The address is Église catholique Saint-Maclou, Place Barthélémy, Rouen, France.

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts | Photo: putneymark / Flickr.

Housed in a magnificent building erected in 1870, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen presents paintings by Rubens, Modigliani, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and, of course, several creations by Monet, as well as a fine collection of Flemish oils.

There’s also one absolutely stunning Caravaggio painting, as well as a tranquil café. Drop your bag in the special locker and follow the route through the galleries, arranged in chronological order.

Address: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Esplanade Marcel Duchamp, Rouen, France.

Palais de Justice

Palais de Justice

Palais de Justice | Photo: Cyradis / Flickr.

The ornate Gothic courts, which at the end of World War II were little more than a shell, have been restored to their early 16th century appearance. Nevertheless, on Rue Joan of Arc, you can still see the same facade with its characteristic marks showing the damage done during the 1944 bombing raids.

Visitors interested in the French justice system can attend the trial, as under French law most proceedings are open to the public.

The address is Tribunal de Grande Instance, Place du Maréchal Foch, Rouen, France.

Jewish Monument (Monument Juif)

Jewish Monument

Jewish monument. | Photo: Rouen – Normandie Tourisme & Congrès / Flickr.

The only relic of the medieval Jewish community of Rouen, which was expelled by Philip IV the Fair in 1306, is hidden under the stairs at the eastern end of the courtyard of the Palais de Justice. The impressive stone Romanesque structure, erected around 1100, is the oldest Jewish communal structure in Western Europe. The only way to see it is to take a guided tour.

The impressive stone Romanesque building, erected around 1100, is the oldest Jewish communal structure in Western Europe. The only way to see it is on a guided tour.

Address: Le monument juif, Rue aux Juifs, Rouen, France.

Hill of Saint Catherine

 View of St. Catherine Hill

View of St. Catherine’s Hill | Photo: Frédéric BISSON / Flickr.

To appreciate Rouen, climb this hill overlooking the Seine. It takes 15 minutes to walk to the top, from where Monet once painted a view of the city. The sunrise and sunset make for truly magnificent photographs.

Be sure to wear good shoes, as the climb up there can be quite slippery. As you walk along Rue Henri Rivière, note the concrete steps on your right, just after the long brown building, which lead to the wooden steps up the hill.

Address: Panorama de Rouen De La Côte Sainte Catherine, Route de la Corniche, Bonscure, France.

Museum of Ironmongery of the Sek de Tournaul

Sek de Tunnel Ironwork Museum

Museum of Ironwork of the Sek de Tournelle.| Photo: putneymark / Flickr.

This truly fascinating museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of wrought iron. It is an amazing spectacle, showcasing the exceptional skills of pre-industrial iron and locksmiths, in a magnificent setting on two floors, in a former 16th-century church.

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Here you will find everything from exquisite penknives to candles, beds, fortified chests, candelabras, miniature pistols and intricate keys.

Address: Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rue Jacques Villon, Rouen, France.

Joan of Arc Church

Joan of Arc Church

Joan of Arc Church | Photo: Frédéric BISSON / Flickr.

Consecrated in 1979, the extraordinarily whimsical Church of Joan of Arc, with its decoration reminiscent of fish scales, stands on the exact spot where the 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431.

The church is much more beautiful inside, with one of its walls a stained-glass window, and right in front of it is an elaborate circle of pews for parishioners, knee-high.

The address is Église catholique Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc, Place Vieux Marché, Rouen, France.

Astronomical Clock of Rouen

Rouen Astronomical Clock

Astronomical Clock of Rouen.

This Large Clock with a gilded single-shot dial can be seen on either side of the Renaissance arch on Rue Gros Orlage. High above it is the Gothic bell tower, which can be reached by a spiral staircase and offers a truly breathtaking panorama of the city.

The address is Le Gros-Horloge, Rue du Gros Horloge, Rouen, France.

Museum of Ceramics

Ceramics Museum

Museum of Ceramics | Photo: Rouen – Normandie Tourisme & Congrès / Flickr.

Housed in a 17th-century building with a beautiful courtyard, the Museum of Ceramics is known for its 16th to 19th-century earthenware, namely pewter-coated earthenware and porcelain. Don’t miss the sculptural figures, among which you can see the exquisite celestial sphere from 1725 on the second floor.

Address: Musée de la Céramique – Réunion des Musées Métropolitains (RMM), Rue Faucon, Rouen, France.

Saint-Macloux Church

Sainte-Macloux Church

Church of Saint-Macloux. | Photo: Graham Hart / Flickr.

A must-see in Rouen, of course, is the eerie ensemble of half-timbered buildings adorned with elaborately carved ominous skulls, crossed bones, gravedigger tools and hourglasses reminding us that time is not eternal, which has been used for centuries as a cemetery for plague victims.

The church, built between 1526 and 1533, is now used as the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Rouen.

Address: Aitre Saint Maclou, 186 Rue Martainville, 76000 Rouen, France.

Place Vieux-Marchet.

Place Vieux Marché

Place Vieux Marché | Photo: Gianluca Franco / Flickr.

At the western end of Rue Gros Orlage is the square where Joan of Arc was burned alive on May 30, 1431. Around the square are several beautiful half-timbered and frame houses, and in the very center rises the modern St. Joan of Arc Cathedral, built in 1979.

Before World War II, the stained glass windows of Rouen were removed from various city churches and deposited in the medieval church of Saint Vincent, which stood on this very spot but was destroyed in a bombing raid. Its magnificent, miraculously preserved windows, however, now adorn the modern church on the same site.

The address is Place Du Vieux Marché, 76000 Rouen, France.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

The botanical gardens. | Photo: Jean-Louis ALLIX / Flickr.

Spread to the south of the old center, Rouen’s main park is a place for family walks and also has scientific value. Plants from five different continents are found here. From April to November, the park is truly incredible.

In spring, a magnificent riot of color is created by irises, wisteria, camellias, and rhododendrons, while in summer the rose gardens bloom, and in fall, reds and oranges dominate. If you come here in winter, you will see that life goes on in the botanical greenhouses, where tropical plants grow all year round.

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Address: Jardin des Plantes, Avenue des Martyrs de la Résistance, Rouen, France.

Museum of Flaubert and History of Medicine

Flaubert Museum and History of Medicine

Museum of Flaubert and the History of Medicine | Photo: Yvette G. / Flickr.

The museum with a medical and literary purpose is located in the former Hôtel-Dieu hospital, where the famous 19th-century writer Gustave Flaubert was once born.

The place is filled with antique curiosities from the more primitive days of medicine, including an 18th-century mannequin used in the past to demonstrate childbirth, sets of military surgery, the mummified heads of two political agitators hanged in the 1700s, and a collection of 200 ancient medicine vials.

On the first floor is a room dedicated to Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary.

Address: Musée Flaubert d’Histoire de la Médecine, rue Leca, Rouen, France.

The 17 best sights of Rouen – description, photos, map

Rouen, France – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Rouen with descriptions, guides and maps.

City of Rouen (France)

Rouen is a city in northern France and the center of the Haute Normandie region. It is famous for its winding old streets and picturesque half-timbered houses, sights of the Middle Ages and the modern era, gems of Gothic architecture and the incredible cathedral that inspired Monet. Rouen is the historic capital of Normandy, which is infamous as the place where Joan of Arc was executed. It is one of the most beautiful cities in France, rich in history and cultural life.

Things to do (Rouen):

Rouen, medieval gateway to Normandy

€150 per tour.

Rouen – medieval gateway to Normandy

Explore the city and love it for its many faces on a walking tour

Enjoy an evening stroll through the historic center of Rouen

€150 per tour.

Enjoy an evening stroll through the historic center of Rouen.

The stories and legends of the common people, kings and heroes of medieval France and. the best duck in the country!

Geography and Climate

Rouen is located in Northern France on the banks of the Seine, 135 km from Paris. The old city is located on the right bank of the river. The northern part is rather hilly. The climate is temperate maritime. Winters in Rouen are mild and summers are warm, but not hot.

Rouen panorama

Rouen Panorama

Tourist Information

  1. Population – more than 110 thousand people.
  2. Area – 21.38 km².
  3. Language: French.
  4. Currency – euros.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Rouen is 1.5 hours from Paris by toll highway A13.
  8. There is a market every Saturday and Sunday at St. Mark’s Square. Groceries can be bought at the Vieux Marche.

History

A settlement at the site of modern Rouen appeared more than 2,000 years ago (most probably before the Roman conquest of Gaul) and was the center of the Celtic tribe of the Velociraptians. The city was founded under Octavian Augustus and quickly became the second largest settlement in Gaul, after Lugdun (Lyons). Rouen reached its heyday by the 3rd century AD. Thermae, an amphitheater, and other structures were built here. The end of the Roman city’s prosperity came with the Germanic invasion in the 4th century.

In the 9th century at the mouth of the Seine, the Normans began to visit frequently, who several times sacked and burned Rouen. In 911 the city became the capital of the Duchy of Normandy, formed by the Vikings. In 941 Duke Richard I of Normandy defeated the combined army of King Louis IV of France, the Germanic emperor Otto the Great and the Count of Flanders. In the 10th century Rouen became a major port city. Throughout Normandy’s period of independence, it was for most of the time the capital of the duchy.

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The streets of Rouen

The streets of Rouen

In 1204, Rouen was occupied by French troops. In the same year, all of Normandy was annexed to France. In the 13th century, the city prospered thanks to its river trade and textile industry. The merchants of Rouen had a monopoly on navigating the Seine almost to Paris. In the late 13th and 14th centuries there were several revolts over high taxes. After the last of these, local merchants lost all their privileges.

During the Hundred Years’ War, Rouen was occupied by the English and annexed to the possessions of the English king. On May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake here. Normandy again became part of France only in 1449. After the end of the Hundred Years’ War Rouen was significantly rebuilt. In the 15th and 16th centuries, beautiful Gothic buildings were erected here. At this time the city thrived on fishing, cloth production, and fairs.

Rouen

Rouen

During the Huguenot wars, part of Rouen’s population joined the Reformation. The tension that arose between Catholics and Protestants was suppressed by regular troops, who entered Rouen in 1562 and looted the city for three days. In 1572 (despite attempts by the city authorities to prevent a massacre) the Catholics massacred the Huguenots.

During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Rouen was occupied by German troops. During World War I there was a British military base. During World War II, Rouen was occupied by German troops from 1940 to 1944. During this period, the city was repeatedly bombed by Allied aircraft. Because of the bombing, historic quarters and some landmarks were destroyed. The reconstruction of Rouen lasted 15 years.

Attractions

Old Rouen

Old Rouen

Rouen is known for its magnificent old town, whose charming medieval streets offer a chance to touch its rich history and enjoy the authentic atmosphere. Around 2,000 old half-timbered buildings have been preserved in the city. Of these, 227 have been declared historic monuments. In terms of number of attractions, architectural and cultural heritage sites, Rouen ranks among the top 10 cities in France.

Cathedral

Cathedral

The Cathedral is one of the largest and most impressive Gothic cathedrals in France, located in the heart of the old city. The construction of the church began in the 13th century. Interestingly, the construction was not completed until the 16th century. The cathedral has the highest spire among French churches (151 meters), original stained glass windows and a remarkable Gothic facade.

Saint-Ouen

Saint-Ouen

Saint-Ouen is a Benedictine abbey known for its impressive 14th-century church, considered a masterpiece of Late Gothic architecture. The church has a striking Gothic façade and 80 exquisite stained glass windows.

Aître Saint-Maclou

Aître Saint-Maclou

The Aître Saint-Maclou is one of the most mysterious and obscure sights in Rouen. It is a medieval building which now houses a school of fine arts. Its origins go back to 1348 and an epidemic of plague that killed a third of the townspeople. The space, which is now the courtyard, was once used to bury those who died of disease, and the surrounding structures served as crypts. The building’s galleries are decorated with eerie decorations depicting skulls, bones, gravediggers’ tools and funeral rites.

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Palais de Justice

The Palace of Justice

The Palace of Justice is a Gothic masterpiece and a splendid example of medieval civil architecture built in the early 16th century. The building has a magnificent balustrade and an exquisite façade decorated with gargoyle figures.

The Great Clock Tower

The Great Clock Tower

The Great Clock Tower is one of the main symbols of Rouen. The Gothic bell tower was built in 1389 for defensive purposes and the astronomical clock dates back to 1889. Interestingly, the clock still performs its function.

Sainte-Macloux Church

Saint-Macloux Church

The Church of Saint-Macloux is a gem of Gothic architecture located within walking distance of the cathedral. It was built in 1437 and is dedicated to the Breton patron saint. The church has a remarkable Gothic facade and structure. The Renaissance wooden doors are intricately decorated with biblical subjects.

Joan of Arc Church

Church of Joan of Arc

The Church of Joan of Arc is an interesting modern church located on the Place Vieux-Marche. This is where the national heroine of France was burned at the stake. Therefore, the building has the shape of the flames of the fire. Inside the church are impressive Renaissance stained glass windows.

Joan's Tower

Joan’s Tower

Joan’s Tower is the only remaining part of the medieval castle built by Philippe Auguste in 1207. The large and imposing cylindrical tower has three rooms and an attic. It is believed that this is where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, in a dungeon.

Saint Andre Tower

Saint-André Tower

The Tower of Saint Andre is all that remains of the medieval Gothic Church of Saint Andrew, built between the 15th and 16th centuries.

Church of St. Nicasius

Church of St. Nicasius

The Church of Saint Nicasius is a 16th-century Gothic church. The building was badly damaged in a fire in 1934, after which it was significantly rebuilt.

Church of St. Vivian

The church of St. Vivian

The Church of St. Vivian is a medieval three-nave Gothic church built in 1358 and enlarged in the 15th century. A medieval hatch is preserved on the north side, where mothers could leave their newborn babies to be taken care of.

Church of St. Godard

Church of St. Godard

The Church of St. Godard is a medieval parish church in the vivid Gothic and Renaissance style. It was built in the 13th century on the site of an older religious structure. The church has a three-nave structure and beautiful stained glass windows from the 16th and 19th centuries.

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent is a beautiful Gothic medieval church built in the 15th century. The bell tower was added between 1490 and 1501. The church was desecrated during the Great French Revolution, when it was used as a stable. It is now home to a museum of metalwork.

Church of Saint Eloi

Church of St. Eloi

St. Eloi Church is a 16th-century medieval Gothic church located on Martin Luther King Square. It is a Protestant church.

Interesting tours

Grand Tour of Montmartre

From €105 for a guided tour

Grand tour of Montmartre

The Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, Villa Léandre, Chateau des Mists and other Bohemian landmarks

The Louvre for Kids 6+

from €130 for a guided tour

The Louvre for children ages 6 and up

An educational but not boring adventure which will be remembered by young travelers

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