Rouen On a Budget
Rouen was also home to the French Grand Prix, hosting the race at the nearby Rouen-Les-Essarts track sporadically between 1952 and 1968. In 1999 Rouen authorities demolished the grandstands and other remnants of Rouen's racing past. Today, little remains beyond the public roads that formed the circuit. With its extensive history, towering Gothic cathedral, beautifully restored medieval quarter, excellent museums and vibrant cultural life, Rouen is one of Normandy's most engaging destinations. The town is classified as a "City of Art and History" and has more than 200 protected sites.
SightsThere is plenty to see in Rouen. The most famous of which is the Notre Dame Cathedral with the Tour de Beurre (butter tower), financed by the sale of indulgences for the consumption of butter during Lent. The gothic Cathedral was completed in the 16th century and is featured in many paintings by Claude Monet.
The Grol Horloge, which is an astronomical clock that also dates back to the 16th Century, is another popular sight, and is worth going to see. You could also check out Rouen castle, another famous structure, where Joan of Arc was brought to be threatened with torture.
NeighborhoodsThe old town or old center is the main neighborhood area in Rouen. This is where most of the attractions and cultural sites can be found. Wandering around the old centre of Rouen you will discover fabulous half timbered buildings on almost every street. Start your visit to the old town in the Place du Vieux-Marché: beautiful and filled with tourists now, this was actually the square where Joan of Arc was burned to death for heresy. There are some more particularly impressive examples of medieval houses around the Church and Cemetery of Saint-Maclou and around the Church of Saint-Joan, and in Rue Saint-Romain and Rue Eau-de-Robec.
ActivitiesRouen has a lot to do. There are several museums here to visit: the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics which contains a splendid collection of porcelain for which Rouen was renowned during the 16th to 18th centuries; the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, an art museum with pictures of well-known painters such as Claude Monet and Gericault; the Musee maritime fluvial et portuaire, a museum on the history of the port of Rouen and navigation; and Musee des antiquites, an art and history museum with local works from the Bronze Age through the Renaissance.
Rouen is also home to a terrific French language school, French in Normandy. Check out this great article about how to learn French in France which includes some great details about the school as well as tips and advice.
You could also check out The Jardin des Plantes de Rouen, a notable botanical garden once owned by Scottish banker John Law dated from 1840 in its present form. It was the site of Elisa Garnerin's parachute jump from a balloon in 1817.
Food and DiningLike much of France, there are many great options in Rouen when it comes to dining. This area is big on its butter, cream, and seafood, as well as a big affinity for apples. Rouen has some specialty dishes that you might want to watch for. One of these dishes is Rouen Duck, traditionally cooked on a turn grit with many original sauces and spices. Aside from this dish, look for almost anything with apples, as the city loves to use them in many ways with their cuisine.
The list of restaurants seems limitless, but there are some that stand out even among the many great options. One, La Couronne, is said to be the oldest in in France, dating from around 1345. This place is an atmospheric time warp; you can hardly see some of the walls for all the signed photographs of celebrities who have dined here. Another popular stop is J.M.'s, a cafe, which is a great place to try hot wine punch and various treats. Yvonne's is another great place to stop for some sandwiches or bread and butter treats.
TransportationThe best prices for buses and trains in France can be found on Omio (formerly GoEuro). They let you search across all train, bus, and plane routes throughout Europe.
Rouen has its own airport, which serves many domestic flights and some international flights to other European countries. To fly into here from outside of Europe, however, you will have to make a connection from either another European country or another city in France.
Rouen is part of a good working public transportation system. There are trains that connect Rouen to many other major cities, so getting there from other cities in France is possible in this way also. Within the city itself, there is a tram system and bus system, which provide excellent options for getting around.