Rouen to Caen
Aug 25, 2012
|We left Chartres by lunchtime, (bit of a late start to the day), and headed to Rouen. I didn't know much about Rouen at all. Kirk is a fantastic travel buddy - he's like a walking travel guide! Apparently Rouen is a medieval town on the river Seine, and it's the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the cross, and there's some old cathedral there that's significant. (Note to self - all cathedrals are old in europe).
Kirk was driving as we headed in to Rouen, and I must say he drove remarkably well, especially considering the U-turns we had to make (even with a GPS it's still very easy to take the wrong direction or make a wrong turn - doesn't help when streets are closed off with roadworks either hahaha).
We found underground hotel parking and stood opposite the city consulate and a cathedral. Ever so pretty (pictures to come).
We then meandered our way through streets to the other main cathedral spire that we could see above the rooftops. The streets are beautiful. Very reminiscent of old tudor style british homes, with the criss cross of wooden beams (or painted stripes). There are narrow streets winding off all over the place, and together with the high terraced buildings, it makes for a wonderful sight.
It's the last week of the school holidays at the moment, so everywhere we've gone, we've found there has been a huge amount of french tourists. Rouen was no exception. But it's really lovely to visit a place that even the "locals" deem visit worthy.
We saw two cathedrals, a clock tower / astronomical clock, Martin Luther Place (just another cathedral), and a huge wide open place that looked like a tourist mecca with a weird undulating type metal structure in the middle (cross between a shell / fish / maybe a bit of a dragon? very weird looking shape). Searching high and low for Joan of Arc's last moments on earth we finally realised that this huge odd building had a metal cross reaching out of the top of it high in to the sky. Ok, we'd found it. Not nearly as reverent or special as I'd hoped. I guess I was expecting something quite peaceful, a mark of respect, perhaps with a religious aspect to it. This was smack bang in the middle of cafes and restaurants, and looked super modern and ugly. But hey - we visited the spot where something hugely significant happened, and that's pretty awesome! :-)
We then headed back to the car and started the trek to Caen. It was a lovely drive. Two to three lane freeways the entire way. We passed through lots of wooded areas / forests, and lots of rich green / yellow fertile farming areas.
We arrived in Caen a bit later than originally planned. Perhaps around 6pm. Found parking right outside the hotel (bonus!) and it was free until 9am the next morning (double bonus!).
We quickly googled the food speciality of the area and found a Michelin star restaurant 5mins walk away. What luck! We walked up there super excited, only to find that there were closed on Sundays. Darn. Bugger. Grrrr.
We ended up eating at a grill restaurant right next to the hotel, apparently famous for something to do with the Tour de France. It was nice enough. The local wines even better than the food.
After dinner, I was dying to walk along the canal with Kirk – it looked ever so pretty and romantic. We went up to our hotel room so he could grab his camera and his tripod and off we went. We were planning on walking along the canal, and then Kirk wanted to walk up to the castle and take a few pictures of it at night.
Within minutes we were regretting the canal walk. It was dark, a bit dingy in areas. Guys kept looking at us and we weren’t sure if they were going to follow us or approach us. One chap did follow us down the canal and then walked up to us from the front to speak. I put my highschool german to good use and told him I didn’t speak English or French. We had been sitting on a bench at this stage while Kirk set up his tripod, but I stood up and purposefully moved away from him. He ended up taking the hint and moving on, but Kirk and I were not happy about how isolated things were.
We ended up walking passed half a dozen ladies of the night (although they looked barely late teens), and up the other side of the canal. I’ve never hustled so much in my life. Got back to the hotel, hot, sweaty and worse for wear.