Monday, May 26, 2008

City of a hundred bells

It was Lotus who commented here that each region of France is so varied & beautiful. I couldn't agree more. It's not a particularly big country size wise but each region is so different in terms of architecture, landscape & of course, food.

Northern France is an area that is still fairly unknown to me. Prior to Rouen, the furthest north I've ever been was Paris. That is a region that I really need to explore more. This was my second trip to the historical capital of Normandy. The last time, my camera died because I poured water all over it or something silly like that & so I had nothing to document my trip. This time round, I made sure I was well prepared esp since I wanted to blog about how beautiful the city is.

So I decided to extend my trip to Paris to visit Helena, Simon-Pierre & their 2 beautiful boys. Rouen is just an hour by train north of Paris & thankfully there is a direct TGV line from Valence. I said thankfully because the last time I visited them, I changed trains in Paris & doing that alone was already a hassle - can you imagine attempting that with a 3 year old, a stroller & bags ? No thank you.

The historical centre is on the right bank of the Seine & that's where we explored on foot. Most sights are within walking distance anyway & a word of advice, wear flat shoes, not because of the walking but because of the cobblestoned roads.

The streets are lined with these charming half timbered houses.

The most famous sight has got to be the Cathedral.
It's huge & towers over the city.
Made famous by Claude Monet who painted it several hundred
times at different times of the day thus capturing it in different light.
The picture on the right is one such painting in the Musee des Beaux Arts.

The magnificent wooden door of St Maclou Church

Faïence is the conventional name in English for fine tin glazed
pottery on a delicate pale buff body.[1]

Gros Horloge or Great Clock - an astronomical clock
constructed in the late 14th Century

The beautiful Palais de Justice
where you can still see bullet holes left from the war.

Rouen will always be linked to Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d'Arc in French). It is here where she was imprisoned & later burnt at the stake by the English.
Left picture : Joan of Arc tower where she was imprisoned during her trial
Right picture : Modern church in her honour at the site of her execution

On our final morning in Rouen, the Girl & I encountered a demonstration which is nothing unusual in France. While we were waiting to cross the street, a young student approached us to advise us to stay away. Right after I took this picture, somebody had thrown a fire cracker which landed just meters away from the Girl's stroller.

Goodbye Rouen, next stop Paris

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