Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 5 - Rouen France

We sailed to Rouen during the night.
Paris (Le Havre) Map

According to our itinerary:
Rouen is the capital of Upper Normandy and an important commercial center. It is famous mostly because of Joan of Arc who was sent to prison there and burned at the stake by the British in the marketplace, in 1431. Enjoy the guided walking tour through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered houses and the famous Gros Horloge, a sophisticated astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century. The nearby splendid gothic cathedral was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a long series of studies by Claude Monet. Explore at your own leisure this afternoon, or join an optional excursion to the picture-perfect coastal town of Honfleur or to the busy port city of Le Havre with its contemporary architecture.

View from our cabin when we awoke.

The section of the Seine to Rouen, constitutes one of France’s major commercial shipping routes. It has significant tides and strong currents – the change between ebb and flood tides is dramatic. We had never seen this before on a river cruise. Because of the tides the ramp to leave the ship was placed on the skydeck rather than on the lobby deck.

We opted to skip the included morning walking tour and the four of us headed out on our own after our leisurely buffet breakfast.

Cathedral of Rouen / Cathédrale Notre-Dame
This is one of the finest achievements of Gothic art in France. Built over several centuries from the thirteenth century, its charm derives from the variety of its composition and its rich sculptural decoration. In nineteenth century, Claude Monet immortalized the monument. Note, the spire, built in the XIX century, is the highest in France with at 151 meters. On the left is the Tour Saint-Romain (12th century) and the right is the Tour Beurre (built in 1485). Completed in the 17th, when a group of wealthy citizens donated large sums of money for the privilege of continuing to eat butter during Lent.
Richard I (Richard the Lionheart) further enlarged it in 950, and his heart was buried here in 1199. Richard's heart was buried at Rouen in Normandy, the entrails in Châlus (where he died) and the rest of his body was buried at the feet of his father at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.

Rollo (846 – 931), baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent and founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy.

The staircase to the church library and archives and monks living quarters.

Monet painted this cathedral many times. Monet had rented an apartment in the building right in front of the cathedral. From his window he could see the front of the cathedral and he painted it in morning and afternoon light, on a grey day, and a blue day and a green day and so on....

These half-timbered houses reflect the architecture of the Middle Ages to the late eighteenth century. The structure of a house consists of two parts: The framework, made of vertical poles, large interior beams and the sand (horizontal beams front) ensure the rigidity of the door and the floors and the attic.

Gros-Horloge (Big Clock). The Big Clock, astronomical clock with a mechanism of the fourteenth century and a dial of the sixteenth century, is located in a pavilion spanning the rue du Gros-Horloge a Renaissance arch and is contiguous to a Gothic belfry. On the dual screen, single needle tip time. It is also a "weekly" and phases of the moon are shown in the bull's-eye level.

 The paschal lamb, in a shield in the center of the arch, representing the arms of the city and symbolizes trade and the wool industry.

Features on the right side of the Gros-Horloge, angels carved on the stone, one of which is upside down as a sign of discontent among workers in the construction of the clock. From the top of the tower you can see a wonderful panorama of the city.

This is our view as we sit and have coffee.

Continue on the street Panneret to arrive on the Place du Vieux Marché. It was on this spot, during the war 100 years that Joan of Arc was burned May 30, 1431.

The modern church Jeanne d'Arc was developed in this place. Inside you can admire the remarkable stained glass windows of the old church of Saint Vincent. The form of the building represents the pyre on which Joan of Arc was burnt.

Le Palais de Justice. It is one of the few achievements of Gothic civil architecture from the late Middle Ages in France. Only the left wing back to the front, in the courtyard, is Gothic, built between the late fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is the pinnacles, gargoyles and a balustrade at the base of the flaming roof. "House sublime" is a Jewish monument discovered under the stairs right of the courtyard. It dates from the twelfth century and its walls are preserved low-rise graffiti in Hebrew with the following inscription: "May this house be sublime! "

 Bullet holes

Definition of a gargoyle - a spout in the form of a grotesque human or animal figure projecting from a roof gutter to throw rainwater clear of a building.

We headed back to the boat for lunch and then  headed out to explore Rouen on our own this afternoon.

Radu welcoming us back.

Heading back out.

Temple Saint-Éloi is a grand church dating back to the 14th Century and is located on Place Martin Luther King.

Hotel de Bourgtheroulde. The Hotel de Bourgtheroulde (pronounced "bourtroud '"), dating from the sixteenth century, is located in the center of Rouen, on the Place de la Pucelle. The hotel is listed as a  historical monument since 11 January 1924. This former mansion built for the Le Roux family has a façade in the courtyard, which still retains elements of Gothic art (pinnacles, arches) and mullioned windows. One notices the salamander emblem of Francis I in the center. Now it is a 5-star hotel with a spa opened on April 2010.

 The hotel entrance is very grand and dates to between 1486 and 1531, there is an ornate renaissance carved archway surrounded by two supporting lions and a third golden lion head, divided by a chevron Argent above which rested a golden helm with coronet.

Both William the Conqueror and Joan of Arc died in the town Victor Hugo called "the city of a hundred spires".

History oozes from the buildings, and you can almost picture Emma Bovary emerging from one of them.

Church of St. Ouen is the fourth church built on this site, the earliest built in 558 by Clotaire II, then king of France. The current Gothic church was begun in 1318 and completed in 1549. Saint Ouen was born in 609 and appointed bishop of Roen in 641 by Clovis II, he died in 683. Everything was blocked off due to construction.

Napoleon the First in front of city hall.

After all this walking and shopping it was time to meet up and have a relaxing beer.

Then a leisurely stroll back to the boat.

We sat in the lounge and listened to a lecture on the Landing Beaches of Normandy, our next stop tomorrow.

Dinner was served at 7:30. The evening's entertainment was a French singer featuring famous French songs.

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