The Picturesque City of ROUEN – Discovering Normandy, France

Joan of Arc, Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series, and the city’s half timbered architecture all play a small role in Rouen’s allure. I found this city to be intriguing and unforgettable, although I still cannot pronounce “Rouen” correctly to this day. It is a picturesque medieval city along the River Seine in the northern region of Normandy, that has centuries of prosperous and fascinating history.

Rouen was a prestigious city during the medieval times, having an exceptional architectural heritage in its historical monuments. I have a love for half timbered buildings of Europe, and this city had a numerous amount in excellent condition.

It has been an important cultural capital, with several renowned establishments including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Secq des Tournelles (museum of wrought iron works), and the Gothic Rouen Cathedral.


Joan of Arc

Rouen is where the last days of Joan of Arc took place. At age 19, the young Joan had become a national hero, a martyr, and eventually the patron saint to France. Joan of Arc was a religious peasant girl during medieval France, who claimed to have seen visions sent from God. The visions declared that she would lead France in victory during its years of war with England. Although Joan was illiterate and had no military training, she convinced Charles of Valois for her to lead the French Army from Domremy to Orleans, where she proved successful and victorious.

In 1431, Joan was captured in Rouen by the English who were controlling parts of French territory, and wanted to make an example of her. She was tried for witchcraft, and burned at the stake in a public execution on May 30, 1431, in the Old Market Square of Rouen.

Church of St. Joan of Arc

Today, Joan of Arc is honored throughout Rouen with city plaques and monuments. There is also a modern-style Catholic church in the Old Market Square, the Church of St. Joan of Arc, that was dedicated in 1979. In addition, each year on the last Sunday of May, a “Joan of Arc Festival” occurs to commemorate the trial and execution of France’s patron saint.


Monet’s Rouen Cathedral Series

The Master French Impressionist, Claude Monet, came to Rouen during 1892 and 1893 to paint, and capture the façade of Rouen Cathedral. His series of cathedral paintings reflected the changes of the gothic church during different times of the day, and lighting conditions.

There were more than thirty paintings painted in Rouen, then reworked in Monet’s studio in 1894. He selected twenty of his best paintings from the series, and displayed it at his Paris dealer’s gallery, in which eight were sold before the exhibition was over.

Red dot on window where Monet painted

Monet had rented different spaces across the street from Rouen’s cathedral in order to paint the different lighting situations and angles. Today, if you walk across the way of the cathedral, you will see red dots on windows that signify the rooms where Monet had worked.


Aitre Saint Maclou

The Aitre Saint Maclou is a macabre ossuary and cemetery with the skeletal remains of plague victims placed within the roof spaces and attics of the buildings. Originally, the bones were displayed for the public to see, within well ventilated spaces along the façade. The square courtyard itself is a plague pit, with the bodies of countless individuals who died during the Black Death of 1348, and the plague epidemic of the 16th century.

The façade of the galleries are fascinating with one of Europe’s best example of the Danse Macabre- The Dance of the Dead. Danse Macabre was a motif during the 15th century in Europe that portrayed symbols of death (skeletons, skulls, gravediggers tools), and were used in paintings, engravings, or everyday objects. Along the walls of the Saint-Maclou galleries, you will see the restored Danse Macabre symbols. It is stunning and magnificent, in its own dark way.

Cat Skeleton

When visiting, look for the cat mummy displayed in one of the ossuary walls, which is enclosed in glass. In old superstition, cats were placed within the walls to ward off evil spirits. This cat was believed to be a black cat, which was considered the Devil’s incarnation, and placed in the wall alive before it was plastered. Just another macabre fact of Aitre Saint Maclou!


Rouen is an extraordinary city in the region of Normandy, it was one of my favorites to visit. I enjoyed it so much that I have planned on returning to stay and play awhile; rent a flat, eat regional dishes, and just wander the medieval streets more. Rouen is a vibrant city and would be a superb addition to your visit of northern France – Bon Voyage!

Photo Gallery of Rouen

Place du Vieux-Marche (Old Market Square)
Rouen Street Art
Le Gros-Horloge
Saint Maclou Gothic Church
Gothic Cathedral
Carnival Tent
Pottery Store
Catholic Statuary


Wherever you go, go with all your heart…

– Confucius
Yours Truly in Paris, France

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s