Situated on the banks of the River Seine, Rouen is Normandy’s historic and cultural capital. Its enchanting medieval quarter is filled with the city’s trademark half-timbered houses and towering churches, as well as inviting alleys lined with craft shops and antique dealers.
As you wander through the medieval streets of Rouen, it’s easy to see why it’s regarded as a city of great historical importance. During the Middle Ages, it was an epicentre of English power in occupied France, as well as being ravaged by fires and plague. Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral is the city’s most famous attraction, which also holds bragging rights as the tallest cathedral in France at almost 500 feet high. In the market square, you’ll find a cross marking the spot where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake for heresy during the Hundred Years’ War. Be sure to also observe the Gros-Horloge astronomical clock which dates back to the 14th century. You’ll notice many depictions of sheep – a reminder of the city’s wool trade that was once its main source of wealth.
Rouen’s historic centre is filled with markets and restaurants offering regional specialities like ‘andouillette d'Alençon’ (pork sausage) and ‘Marmite Dieppoise’ (fish stew). You’ll also find a variety of shops run by local craftspeople where you can pick up bespoke hats or watch porcelain being handcrafted and painted in its distinctive blue and white pattern.