Just this past Friday, I spent a day in Rouen, the French capital of the Haute-Normandie region. While it is true that I have already visited the city before (adventures of which you can check out here), going back there for the second time was just as rewarding as the first time around.
So, why did I decide to return there, especially since it’s not necessarily close to where I live in the Normandy region? After all, I am an hour away, and considering that I had already visited there during the previous week, why bother going back?
Answer: I had to.
Not that I was dreading going back to Rouen, not at all. But for my job, it is required that I have to attend training days, which happen to be located there. Technically, I was there on Thursday for the whole day, but it wasn’t until that night, as well as the following morning and afternoon, that I could actually go out and explore more of the city. Most of Thursday was just orientation stuff, welcoming and introducing us soon-to-be teaching assistants to the whole Normandy region. A lot of listening to speeches, being slightly bored, eating the complimentary lunch that the administration provided us assistants (not bad, either!), and filling out a ton of paperwork for the French government, etc. Pretty much an all-day affair, and it wasn’t until after 4:30 pm that we were done.
Afterwards, I went with another assistant to our lodging for the night. Since we were coming from pretty far away, we had decided to spend the night together at a flat that she had rented on Airbnb (if you don’t know what it is, then you should! Especially for die-hard travelers). We arrived at the place, got our keys from the super-nice owner, dropped off our belongings, then went out to meet up with the other assistants, who were at the pub getting beers.
Got our **massive** beers (six euros each- not bad), then sat down with other fellow teaching assistants to drink and shoot the breeze. Frankly, I don’t even like the taste of beer, and I do admit that its effects got to me pretty quickly. I guess that I chose to order it, considering that we were at an Irish pub (of all places!). In any case, I actually (*ahem* barely) finished my drink, and afterwards I definitely felt like I was about to burst from all of that liquid. Multiple bathroom trips, anyone? 😛
Perhaps it was because I hadn’t eaten since lunch, but I decided to go out with my roommate for the night and two other guys for some kebabs to get rid of the nauseating effects of having consumed that massive pint of beer. Ugh…
Fun fact: before ordering the kebab, I’d always thought that it was synonymous with a shish kebab (i.e. with meat on skewers and everything). Turns out that I was completely wrong, as a kebab is similar to shawarma, or gyros (i.e. meat wrapped in something like pita or a bread roll). In any case, it was delicious; I need to take advantage of kebabs more while in France! 😛
Decided to call it a night after 8 pm. I would have loved to continue getting drinks and food with the others, but I was already bursting from the pint of beer that I had, as well as exhausted from the paperwork stress at orientation that day. Oh, well- next time…
Went back to the flat that my roommate had rented, showered and freshened up, then went to sleep. Woke up around 8 am to the sound of church bells ringing (or rather, knelling) not too far away. After all, the flat was right behind the Cathédrale de Rouen, and with actually a good view of it. Check it out:
…as well as (surprise!) a cat from the sunny balcony:
Since we had the whole day, my roommate and I decided to explore the city. She hadn’t visited before, and so I used my *limited* knowledge of Rouen from the last time I was there to walk around town.
Saw the Cathédrale de Rouen and the Gros Horlage again, but also visited the Musée des Beaux-Arts, where it had exhibits of just about any type of art you can think of (from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance to modern). But what we were most interested in were the Impressionists, which impressed me (haha), considering that I didn’t even know that other places besides the Musée d’Orsay in Paris had! That is to say that I was very happy seeing more Impressionist paintings, many of which were inspired by Rouen and the Normandy region:
We left the museum soon after, wandering through the picturesque neighborhood:
…as well as enter the beautiful cathedral again. Absolutely gorgeous second-time around:
By the time we finished with the cathedral, it was about time for lunch. We went to the same café that I had gone to the weekend before with the Brits, near the outdoor market. Ordered a croque Madame this time (love the runny egg yolk on top. Yum yum. :P).
Afterwards, we went back to our rented flat, grabbed the rest of our belongings, then stopped by the patisserie for some dessert. I chose to get the shop’s “special of the day,” which was the tarte fine aux pommes (kind of like an apple tart, but on a super thin, flaky crust with caramelized apples). Even though I am not a huge fan of apple pie or apple tarts, I can say that the tarte fine aux pommes was incredible, as I had devoured the entire thing on the train ride home. Flaky, but not messy, and the apples juicy and perfectly caramelized, with extra caramel sauce on the bottom!
In any case, my roommate and I took the train back to our respective towns in the afternoon, after having had an eventful, but fulfilling day(s) in Rouen. We’re actually returning there very soon, as we still have more training days to go. But with more training days comes more opportunities to explore this amazingly rich city in Normandy. More to come! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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