Things to do in Rouen France

In this article, you will find all the needed information about 10 things to do in Rouen France. The capital of Normandy, Rouen is a port city to visit. The city of a hundred bell towers has been marked by history since Roman times.

Its architecture is the testimony of its past with its numerous Gothic churches, its cobbled streets, and its medieval half-timbered houses. Both modern and traditional, the capital of Normandy is full of exceptional sites to discover, with many beautiful places to visit and many historic attractions for every tourist.  A long time ago Rouen was the kingdom’s second city (until the end of the 18th century) and a very active port in the Middle Ages.

Rouen France

A City of Art and History, it has kept from its past, and despite the destruction of the war, an exceptional heritage of half-timbered houses, and religious buildings, when it is not its famous Big Clock. Marked by History since Antiquity, she attended the stake of Joan of Arc.

Today, the city of 100 bell towers has managed to preserve its ancient soul, while looking towards the future. On the banks of the Seine, along its cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses, or on the heights of the city, it will have some lovely surprises in store for you. So, to make your stay easier, Places N Things has put together a list of 10 things to do in Rouen France.


1. Notre-Dame Cathedral of Rouen

Notre-Dame Cathedral of Rouen
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In the heart of the city, Notre Dame Cathedral reflects Gothic art and its evolution. Built in the 12th century, the monument suffered Allied bombing during the Second World War.

Since its creation, the building has continued to transform. The cathedral will impress you with its spire which rises more than 150 meters. In addition to having the highest cast iron spire in France, it is one of the only cathedrals to retain an archbishop’s palace and annexed buildings dating from the Middle Ages.

Today, Notre-Dame de Rouen is the seat of the city’s archdiocese. Come visit Rouen and its cathedral and you will discover the tombs of the Dukes of Normandy, such as Rollo or Richard the Lionheart. You will also be able to admire a series of 28 paintings painted by Claude Monet who made the Notre Dame de Rouen cathedral famous throughout the world.


2. The Saint-Ouen abbey church

The Saint-Ouen abbey church
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The Saint-Ouen abbey church is undoubtedly one of the jewels of French Gothic architecture. The former abbey church of Rouen was built in the 14th century, the original building (535) was renovated in the middle of the 7th century under the leadership of Saint-Ouen.

Destroyed around 842 by the Vikings, the current church was built in 1318. During the 14th and 16th centuries, the Saint-Ouen Abbey church was one of Normandy’s most powerful Benedictine monasteries.

The abbey church has 80 stained glass windows which provide exceptional brightness. Furthermore, the building is best known for its large organ which was the last construction by Cavaillé-coll. It is also one of the most recorded instruments on the planet.

You will be impressed by the dimensions of the abbey: 137 meters high and 33 meters under the vaults. Due to its size, some visitors sometimes confuse it with the cathedral.

Since the French Revolution, the abbey no longer serves as a place of worship. It’s more of a tourist place. Backed by this building is the current town hall which formerly served as a dormitory for monks.


3. Rouen Plant Garden

Rouen Plant Garden
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Covering an area of ​​85,000 m², the plant gardens are the ideal place for a family stroll. A place to relax during a visit to Rouen, this park is also used for the conservation of plant species. Botany lovers, you will be able to observe plants from the five continents.

In the center of the plant garden, a 170-year-old greenhouse dominates the space. Within it, a variety of plants from arid environments, utility plants from the Mediterranean, and even carnivorous plants. Birds are also present in the plant garden.

The aviaries are lit up in a thousand colors with parakeets, parrots, Chinese quails, golden pheasants, and many other species. This is one of the most beautiful places in Rouen France.


4. Historical Joan of Arc

Historical Joan of Arc
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An essential figure in the city of Rouen, Joan of Arc was able to leave her mark through various monuments and places. A few meters from the Cathedral, you can visit the Historial Joan of Arc, a digital museum that allows you to retrace the incredible destiny of Joan of Arc.

It is located in the buildings of the Archbishopric of Rouen, classified as a historic monument. Gothic crypt or Aubigné chapel will delight young and old alike. Start your tour in the dark where the stone walls begin to come to life. Projections and 3D mapping transport you to the Middle Ages for an unforgettable experience.

In addition to making you discover her epic in another way, the history highlights the myth of Joan of Arc constructed and interpreted by Men.


5. Cruise on the Seine

Cruise on the Seine
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What to do in Rouen apart from historical monuments? Why not a cruise on the Seine sharing the two banks of the Norman capital? Thus, the landscapes of the valley are offered to you between nature, culture, and tradition. During your cruise, discover Rouen and the surrounding towns in a different light.

These navigations along the rivers of Normandy inspired talented impressionists like Lebourg and Sisley. In addition to discovering the environment around you, you will have a great time thanks to the staff on board. Taking care of you throughout the journey, they ensure your comfort by providing you with some gastronomic pleasures.


6. Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts
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Impossible to visit Rouen without discovering the city’s Museum of Fine Arts. Created in 1801 under Napoleon Bonaparte, the Museum of Fine Arts has continued to evolve over the years. Today, it is one of the most comprehensive museums in France. Inside, there are more than 8,000 works spread over 60 rooms.

They are as varied in terms of periods covered (from the 16th to the 20th century), as in terms of supports (paintings, sculptures, decorative objects, drawings, etc.).

The Museum of Fine Arts brings together the greatest artists in Europe including Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rubens, Puget, Delacroix, Modigliani, Monet, Renoir, and many others. Alongside the permanent collections, the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts regularly organizes temporary exhibitions, some of which have international visibility. This museum is one of 10 things to do in Rouen France.


7. Rue du Gros Horloge

Rue du Gros Horloge
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A must-see in Rouen, the large clock is among the city’s most emblematic monuments. It is a construction dating from the Renaissance that spans the Rue du Gros Horloge via an arch. A Gothic style belfry is attached to it housing the bell towers, as well as the Rouen clock.

The astronomical clock dating from the 14th century tells the time to the city’s inhabitants using a double dial with a single hand. Likewise, several representations are exhibited there. Below the number IV, admire a divinity symbolizing the day of the week. At noon, a triumphal float is present. Above the dial, the phases of the moon are indicated.


8. Saint-Maclou Catholic Church

Saint-Maclou Catholic Church
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Classified as a Historic Monument, the Saint-Maclou Catholic church is one of the must-see places to visit in Rouen. Considered one of the jewels of Gothic art, the building has a portal with five doors made of carved wood.

Inside the building, admire the furniture dating from the Renaissance; a Gothic staircase, an organ case, an arch of glory, baroque confessionals. Above, the lantern tower and spire were renovated after suffering damage during the Second World War. Finally, the five bells of the church, Marie, Adrienne, Adèle, Joséphine, and Léontine are now safely sheltered by the lantern tower.


9. Rouen Old Market Square

Rouen Old Market Square
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Come visit Rouen and its history via the old market square. On this mythical square, Joan of Arc was burned alive on May 30, 1431. At the time, the square was occupied by the Saint-Sauveur church, the remains of which have disappeared.

It was in this church that Pierre Corneille was baptized. A few meters away is his birthplace which has been transformed into a museum. Today, the old market square is marked by a large cross symbolizing the pyre of the time. All around, bars and restaurants occupy the place to make it a place of life and conviviality.


10. Roumare Forest

What to do in Rouen to discover Normandy’s nature? The Roumare forest is the ideal place for a Sunday hike in Normandy. With more than 4,000 hectares, this area offers numerous trails. Several facilities are provided if you want to do some exercises or enjoy the calm of the forest for a family picnic. Furthermore, the vegetation is lush with conifers, old coppices, oaks, and even beeches. The Roumare forest also has an animal park for the enjoyment of the little ones. So your toddlers will be able to admire deer, roe deer, fallow deer, and even wild boars.


10 Things to do in Rouen France

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral of Rouen
  • The Saint-Ouen abbey church
  • Plant garden
  • Historical Joan of Arc
  • Cruise on the Seine
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Rue du Gros Horloge
  • Saint-Maclou Catholic Church
  • Old Market Square
  • Roumare Forest