Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rouen, France

Two weeks ago I ventured north via France's high-speed TGV train to Normandy primarily to visit the historic World War II Invasion beaches that I have seen so many times in the movies and, of course, the History Channel.

My first stop was the 2,000 year old city of Rouen full of Gothic architecture, half-timbered houses and good food.

Rouen was a regional capital in Roman times, the Normans made it their capital in the ninth century and William the Conqueror called Rouen home before going to England.

During WWII, about 50% of Rouen was destroyed by Allied bombing raids.

The "Attic" room in Rouen's
Hotel Le Morand 

A charming and clean establishment, watch out for the low doorway . . .

And the slanted ceiling

This picture was taken from the bath room back towards my bed. A middle of the night head banging accident was just waiting to happen.

Note the three steps leading up to the low doorway.

 Rouen's City Hall . . .

It still proudly shows off
its WWII bombing pockmarks

The Gros Horloge 

Up and running since 1528, it sits above an arch on the city's former city hall. The clocks twin brother sits on the back side of this archway.

Note that it only has an hour hand. Back in the days of the  Renaissance, that was precise enough time for the French.

Come to think of it, that still is precise enough time for the French.

That reminds me,
I need to buy some Advil 

Eglise Jeanne d'Arc

This church's Scandinavian based architectural style reflects Normandy's Nordic roots. Viking raiders settled into this area after pillaging it for centuries.

Opened in 1979, it honors St. Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431, a casualty of the Hundred Years War which actually lasted 117 years. She would be canonized in 1920 by the Roman Catholic Church.

Note the tall cross to the left center of the picture . . .

It marks the exact spot where
St. Joan of Arc was executed 

St. Joan of Arc in "Flames" 

A random bishop

A Rouen Florist Shop

Time for a cafe? 

Or perhaps something stronger

Lonely Rue St. Romain


Aître St. Maclou
The Plague Cemetery

In the Middle Ages, the Plague hit Rouen very hard as approximately two-thirds of its population died. Dealing with so many corpses was a daunting task to say the least.

This square was a mass grave where bodies were disposed. The bodies were dumped in the middle of where these trees now stand and then bathed in liquid lime to speed up the decomposition process.

Today, this square houses an art school.

Ghoulish Carvings

These carvings were added to the courtyard's surrounding buildings in the 1560s. They all vary to some degree but skulls, crossbones and grave digger's tools are incorporated into most of them.

Smoke Break at one of Rouen's
traditional China shops

Rouen's Cathédrale Notre-Dame

This Gothic façade was painted over 30 times by Claude Monet.

The Cathédrale's massive interior 

I lit two for Kevin and Jacob

St. Agatha
Patron Saint of Catania, Italy

Yes, the are ripping off her breasts for the Faith.

The Cathédrale's
Stairway to Heaven

This tomb houses the heart
of Richard the Lionheart
King of England and
12th Duke of Normandy  

The rest of Richard's body is entombed in the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud in the Loire region.

One of the Cathédrale's
Rosette Windows

X marks the spot for
St. Andrew

Weathered but still watchful

A very interesting Gothic
Cathedral indeed! 

The Gothic Palace of Justice 

Palace of Justice Gargoyles

Ruins of a "minor" church

Rouen at night

That is the river Seine as it divides Rouen in two distinct parts.

Nice Ferris Wheel

Half -timbered houses are big here

Is that house bulging? 

The Big Yellow House

It is really crooked!

How would Brian FitzGerald deal with this problem?

Statues are big in Rouen 


First Duke of Normandy

Napoleon Bonaparte
Emperor of France

St. Ouen Church

A St. Ouen gargoyle

Keeping guard over St. Ouen's
renovation project

To pass the time while I awaited my new computer, I decided to take up painting with water colors. Here are my first two rough drawings that I made when I returned to Lyon.

Rouen Bistros

Rouen's Gros Horloge

Or maybe it was just a camera setting.

Hail and Farewell Rouen!

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