A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get out of the house and take a day trip over to Rouen, the capital region of Haute-Normandie in France. Now, even if you can tell that this is not my first time visiting the city (after all, the last time I was properly there was in October), I thought that I would share my adventures with you, since there’s always something new that happens each time I go.
After a *slightly inebriated* time Friday night (i.e. gin and wine were consumed- don’t judge), I caught the 9h00 train to Rouen the following morning, surprisingly with no hangover *pats self on the back. I was heading over to spend the day with some other teaching assistants in the region, since we would be traveling together during this upcoming February vacation and wanted to get to know each other in person before then. Not all of us went to Rouen that day, but all the same, I met up with some nice and friendly people from all over: Germany, South Africa, and England. Definitely a diverse bunch of us!
In any case, I arrived in Rouen close to 10h00 and headed over to the cafe near the train station to meet the others who had already arrived. We headed out shortly thereafter to explore the city. It was pleasant strolling down the main, touristy street, la Rue du Gros Horloge, where tourists from all over were exploring what it had to offer on their weekend getaway (including us). Of course, there was the iconic Gros Horloge, as well as the Rouen cathedral, splendid in all of its massive glory. Even though I’ve taken millions of photos of it, it always astounds me that it’s so big that not all of it can completely fit inside the camera frame!
It was super cold that day (let alone that weekend), so we decided to pop into a cafe to get warm. Ordered a simple cup of tea (overpriced at almost 3 euros- should’ve gone with the cafe viennois, which is essentially hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. Cost a bit more than the tea, but more rewarding, I would say) and just chatted idly about various topics, getting to know each other through cultural exchanges of our respective countries.
After the small break, we headed out again. The German teaching assistant wanted to show us a small courtyard surrounded by half-timbered houses (a distinctive Normandy thing), which appeared to be no longer in use. I’d actually never came across this hidden gem, and I was glad to have taken a peek inside. Although nothing was going on, it was nevertheless quite pretty.
We wandered over to the other side of the main, touristy street towards the Église Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc (“Church of Joan of Arc”), dedicated to the young heroine herself. The modern architecture of it is meant to represent a large boat, which I suppose is a sort of Christian symbol in itself. It was closed when we arrived since it was during the awkward, two-hour lunch break for churches; it would reopen at 14h00, so until then, we returned to the other side of the street, walked past the cathedral, and settled inside an Alsatian restaurant for lunch. Quite funny to have decided on Alsatian food whilst in Normandy, but all the same, it was my first time there and I very much enjoyed my flammkuche (or “tarte flambée,” in French), which is essentially a thin-crusted pizza with cream sauce, onions, and bacon on it. I’ve had it before properly in the Alsace region during my first year living in France, but having it again was a pleasure all the same; I was really full afterwards, though!
Full, but content, we headed over afterwards back to the église Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc, which was finally opened. Before going in, I also snapped a photo of the charming, colorful half-timbered houses nearby, still with their Christmas decorations, even though the holiday had long passed! Any case, the inside of the church was sleek and unconventional, but still pretty to look at with its high-ceiling stained-glass windows.
Once we finished our quick visit inside the church, we headed towards the quay, along which the Seine river gently ambled by. In the distance, we saw some mountains (not sure which ones, though) and paired with the river and wintry atmosphere, I couldn’t help but get vibes of the French Alps (although we were nowhere near them, geographically-speaking).
It was starting to get a bit late, so we returned to the main city center, where I bought a couple of items at a grocery store to take home with me, as well as headed back to a patisserie near the église Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc that I’d come across earlier that day which sold some mouthwatering cookies in the front display outside. I decided to treat myself to two cookies, one Speculoos and the other pistachio-flavored. They were massive and not like the typical, chewy cookies that I’m used to back in the States: rather, they were almost on the bready side, saturated with sugar and overall just plain goodness. Certainly filled me up like no other!
Around 16h30, we headed over to the train station where I would be catching the train around 17h00 or so to return home; the other teaching assistants would be doing the same as well. We said our goodbyes, as well as wishing each other the best until February when we would see each other again, and headed our respective ways.
Overall, it was a pleasant day back in Rouen. Although we didn’t do a whole lot except walk and talk, it was a great way not only to meet other people, but also for me to get out of the house and travel a bit, even if for just a short time.
Speaking of travel, I also headed out the following day that weekend, so more adventures to come! Next up: Paris, France!
— The Finicky Cynic
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