|Quietish day today in Rouen, we spent a large part of the day walking the streets checking out the shops (they let me look in a bike shop just to keep me happy), the houses and other buildings. More of that in a minute.
We did stop off to have lunch in a small restaurant that had a very attractive courtyard that did its job and lured us in. It was slightly more expensive than we have been paying but the location and ambiance made up for that. For lunch, most restaurants have an offering at a set price of either an entree and a main course or a main course and a desert, sometimes with a glass of wine or coffee. Today, there was a selection of about half a dozen entrees, mains and deserts. We all had entree and main, almost all choosing something different, and a coffee to follow. It is quite surprising to see how many people sit down to have a meal lime this in the middle of the day, the restaurants are usually full and most people have wine or other alcoholic drink, don't know how they get anything done in the afternoon.
While on the subject of food, we have been avoiding the hotel breakfasts since we left the chateau and instead just picked up something light locally. We have been surprised that there were not the breakfast bars similar to those in Italy where you can get a coffee and pastry, for example, at the one p,ace. Here there seems to be a demarkation in that the bars sell coffee and the patisseries sell the pastries and it it quite acceptable to take your pastries to the bar and eat them there with your coffee, so that's what we did this morning. Pain au chocolat (without cream, Jenni!) and plain croissants accompanied by an espresso coffee.
So to Rouen, one of the oldest cities in France, dating back to the 900s and famous as the location of the trial and execution of Joan of Arc in 1431. There are a number of chapels, plaques, statues, etc in her name. The city is also well known for its cathedral, in part due to the work of Monet who painted it many times in all its different moods.
In what is becoming a nightly comment, the city was bombed extensively in WW2 but it is amazing to the restoration work that has been done on some of the larger buildings such as the cathedral and the Palais de Justice. It really is difficult to see where the old finishes and the new starts.
Within the centre of the city are streets lined with apparently old, crooked buildings in the typical local style of 'Tudor' construction. They look amazing and are in full use as shops, offices and dwellings, but it takes a little of the appeal away fro them when the guide book says that the area has been turned "into the closest approximation to a medieval city that modern imagination could conceive."
We said a temporary goodbye to Pete, Em and Jacky who have headed off to Paris. We will catch up with them on Friday. It also meant that Pete returned the hire car we have been using since Montpellier. This has been a great asset as it has enabled us to see the large areas of countryside that I have been waxing lyrical about rather than just travelling from city to city which is often the lot of those of us travelling ioverseas. I think we have struck a good balance.
French custom time (or rather lack of it)......I have yet to see anyone wearing a beret, wearing a striped shirt and smoking a Gauloise - where are they all hiding?
In closing, I must mention the weather. Those of you reading Kev and Mike's journal will know that they are experiencing a UK heatwave. It's much the same on this side of the channel, not too hot, just extremely pleasant for what we are doing, being tourists.