In my last posts, M1623 – Hurrying around Honfleur and M1623 – All stitched up I described my first port call on this cruise to Honfleur in France, and the ship’s shore tour I took from there to Bayeux. I also described how bizarrely we sailed up the River Seine at night in the dark to our second port of call, Rouen.
We were in Rouen for nearly two days, so I was able to select two shore tours to do from the port, one on each day.
On the first day I elected to do a walking tour of the historic centre of Rouen. We had a very short coach ride to transfer us near to the cathedral, which was to be our first stop on the walking tour. We had a local guide to show us around as usual, on this occasion it was a very charming and chic French lady. However her voice didn’t seem to carry very far, so combined with her acent I found I needed to stand close to her to hear everything she said, which then made the photography more difficult with a scrum of people around me. It ended up a bit of mix and match, some of the time staying close to hear what she said, and at other times wandering further away to get uninterrupted photographs.
From the outside the Cathedral looked very impressive, with it’s imposing height and ornate towers:
However I could not help feeling a little underwhelmed by the inside of the cathedral, it seemed dark and gloomy compared with the bright and colourful interior of Bayeux cathedral that I had seen the day before. To be fair the cathedral has suffered a lot of damage over the years, including numerous lightning strikes and war damage, particularly during air raids in world war two.
It did feature an array of historic statues and tombs, including that of Richard the Lionheart which contains his heart:
There were also a few stained glass windows to be seen:
Leaving the cathedral we then walked around numerous narrow medieval streets, admiring the old timbered buildings, and the viewing the plaque and picture marking where Joan of Arc’s trial was held:
Our guide then led us under this archway featuring one of the oldest clocks in France. The mechanism of this Gros-Horloge or Grand-clock was made in 1389 and has just one hand, and originally did not have a dial. The slot to to bottom of the dial shows the day of the week as a picture, and the ball above the dial shows the current phase of the moon. The dial is 2.5m in diameter, it’s centre representing the rays of the sun:
We then entered the Place du Vieux-Marché, the square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, aged around 19. Here a modern church has been built, which was completed in 1979. It features beautiful stained glass windows which were originally in the 16th century Church of St Vincent. Fortunately the windows had been put into safe storage during the second world war, as the church was almost completely destroyed during the war. I found the combination of the old and the new absolutely stunning:
Outside the church was a statue of Joan of Arc and a tall cross marking the spot where she died:
We then had around an hour of free time, which I used to mainly retrace my steps to get some better pictures of some buildings and scenes that I had seen on the walk. Meeting once more in the Place du Vieux-Marché we reboarded the coach which returned us to our waiting ship.
From the ship I took some pictures of the Pont Gustave-Flaubert, a vertical lifting bridge. The guide had explained that the bridge had cost around 60 million Euros to build, and costs a considerable sum yearly in maintenance charges, but it is opened only very rarely as it involves stopping a very busy motorway:
I had very much enjoyed a good walk around the attractive and historic city of Rouen on my first day there. On the second day I was due to venture out of town on what was likely to be the highpoint of the cruise – but more of that in my next post!