Just a sample of Rouen's many maisons à colombage
Rouen, which is on the Seine about halfway between Paris and the sea (the English Channel, in this case, is a major port city, with ocean-going ships coming up the river to load and unload goods. The city itself is only about 100,000 people, but the urbanized area counts half a million.
A signboard for a luthier — a maker of stringed musical instruments — in old Rouen
The city was founded two thousand years ago and was named Rotomago something similar in Latin. The name slowly "eroded" phonetically over the centuries to become today's Rouen, pronounced approximately [roo-WÃ] or even just [RWÃ] — [Ã] represents the French nasal [A] vowel. It was conquered by the Vikings — Norsemen or Normans, where the name of the province of Normandy comes from — more than a thousand years ago.
Two views of the cathedral towers in Rouen
The city has a major cathedral and two other famous churches, Saint-Ouen and Saint-Maclou. The first cathedral of Rouen was built in the fourth century A.D. A second cathedral replaced it in about the year 1000, and construction of the current cathedral building dates back to the year 1200, after the second one was destroyed by fire.
Rouen's Eglise Saint-Maclou and the surrounding neighborhood
The smaller Eglise Saint-Maclou was built in the 1400s. Like the cathedral, Saint-Maclou suffered considerable damage from bombardments during World War II. Restoration and repair work has been ongoing ever since.
A charcutier is a butcher who specializes in pork products, and the charcuterie is a kind of
French delicatessen selling sausages, cured and fresh meats, salads, and cooked dishes.
Besides its great monuments, old-town Rouen also has scores of shops, restaurants, and cafés. It's a living city where buildings have shops and storefronts at street level with apartments above. If you are going to be in Paris for a week or more, a side trip to Rouen by train is easy and rewarding. It takes less than 90 minutes to get there from the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris.