The pride and joy of the inhabitants of Rouen: the Cathedral, or "cathé" as they call it here!
The cathedral is no doubt the true heart of the city. Visitors and people from Rouen converge in front of the cathedral: people come and go, come again, stop there, sit down, take pictures, meet there, etc. Everything happens around here.
A word of advice: we love going there on Saturday afternoons when the local brass band, Vashfole, entertains passers-by with lively music: locals love them and holidaymakers applaud them. Another event in summer that you shouldn't miss: "Cathédrale de Lumière", a spectacular light show showcasing the building. It is free of charge and takes place every night in summer. Two successive shows present Joan of Arc's life and the rise of Impressionism on this stone screen, transfiguring the cathedral and carrying you away for 20 minutes of magic.
Muse of the greatest artists
The history of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rouen cannot be dissociated from great artists: Claude Monet, Roy Lichtenstein, etc… With all the different effects of light and at different times of the day and year, it is Claude Monet's magnum opus, of which he painted no less than 28 views, sometimes even painting several canvases at the same time. One of the places from which he painted it, the room Georges d'Amboise, is now situated just above the Tourist Information Centre.
One of the paintings of his Cathedral series is exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Rouen. To have a different outlook on the Cathedral, you should visit "Le Balcon" (The View) (on top of the "Claude Monet Centre" on the left of the Cathedral).
You'll have an outstanding view over the facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral, but also over the gardens of the Cour d’Albane on the side of the building.
A little bit of history
Destroyed by fire, heavily bombed, the cathedral has miraculously lived through the city's history. Its facade can tell, almost by itself, the exceptional history of this majestic building: the Tour Saint-Romain started in 1150 during the Romanesque period was finished in the Flamboyant Gothic style by the end of the 15th century (the same Flamboyant Gothic architecture as Saint-Ouen Abbey Church). The Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower) is named after the donations made by the diocesans to have the permission to eat butter during Lent. A typical Norman sin! After almost 16 centuries of a long and beautiful history (the first Cathedral is said to have been built circa 395), the restoration of Rouen's cathedral will soon be completed.