Normandy France, Day 3

Rouen today!  Cathedrals, big clocks, and half-timbered houses galore.

Our day started out with an hour drive to the Southeast, a little later than I would have liked, but that came to be the norm.  But there was so much to do today, and I knew we wouldn’t have time, so we had to pick and choose.

I had wanted to go to Rouen on Saturday, as that was the big “market day.”  We started out at the Place du Vieux Marche and walked through the market – not nearly as exciting as I was hoping for.  Granted, I didn’t have much of a chance to really immerse myself in it.

We walked down past the palais de justice, a restored gothic building complete with gargoyles.  They had a great display on the Southwest side describing the damage to the building in WWII and the reconstruction.

Then we hit the Cathedral, which has a very rich history.  It contains the tombs of Richard the Lionheart and the Viking Rollo.    The Cathedral was painted quite often by Monet, and I hear that during the summer, they project these images on the facade of the Cathedral at night.

It was around 1pm, so a lot of the places we wanted to see were closed, so we went tot he Musee des Beaux-Arts and wandered around for a couple of hours.  They have a large collection of 17th century religious paintings – not my favorite school of art.  However, they did have a couple of cool things:

This was an installation in the stairwell (I didn’t get the artist’s name) – in the mirror, you can see that it’s a bullseye, but it’s distorted on the wall.

“Anamorphose d’apres L’Erection de la Croix de Pierre Paul Rubens” by Domenico Piola – this was pretty cool, you can see that it’s done in like a circular, distorted fashion, but when you have the reflection pole in the middle, it turns into something viewable.

After the museum, we were quite thirsty, so we stopped in at a nearby Brasserie and had some wine and a bit to eat.  I ordered the tomato and mozzerella appetizer, and Stephen ordered the charcuterie, and the waiter was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure?”  We wondered if we were going to get small plates, but no, it was plenty for us for a small lunch!

Then we hit the Ironworks Museum (link in French, you’ll need to translate).  I had read that this museum was pretty good, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to waste my time there.  But Stephen wants to do ironworking when he retires, so we stopped to check it out, and I’m glad we did – it was really great!  They have around 14,000 pieces of ironwork – lots of keys, but also signs that would have hung outside business, chests, sewing bobbins, scissors, swords, knives, and a ton of other stuff!

That’s a big gun…and if it’s iron, can you imagine how heavy it is?!

A sewing bobbin

Swiss Army Knife with eating utensils?

Hair irons

Did they have Hershey Bars 200 years ago?

We wandered down toward what turned out to be the Hotel de Ville, so we stopped in next door and toured St. Maclou.  The flying butresses and rose window were definite highlights.

After that, I wanted to check out the Plague Cemetery, but we missed it and got turned around (not sure how – we were right there).  Instead, we headed up to Le Gros Herloge (the Big Clock) just in time to get to walk to the top.  The audio tour was great, explaining a lot of what we were seeing, including the different parts of the building, the operation of the clock, and the history.  At the top, you can go outside and get a bird’s eye view of the city.

A view from inside the tower – see the little lamb pointing toward the hour (6)?

The view from the top – that’s the cathedral on the right, and the Church of St Ouen on the left, and in front of the cathedral you can see the mass of people on Rue Saint-Romain.

Some miscellaneous pictures from around town:

Half-timber buildings

A little park behind St Maclou

Stay tuned for Day 4: Taking it easy around Deauville and Trouville.

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