Maybe you are planning a trip to Rouen, or considering if this city is worth visiting. Rouen has plenty of cool and unique things to do that warrant a visit! From historical happenings to remarkable architecture, this ancient city in Normandy has a lot to offer.
In this guide, you will learn the best things to do in Rouen, France, along with how to get here, where to stay, and additional travel tips.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Interesting Facts About Rouen
- Best Things to Do in Rouen
- Notre Dame Cathedral Rouen
- Le Gros Horloge
- Rouen Museum of Fine Arts (The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen)
- Saint-Ouen Abbey Church
- Place du Vieux-Marché
- St Joan of Arc’s Church
- St. Maclou Catholic Church
- Musée Le Secq des Tournelles
- Wander Around the Streets of Rouen
- Square Verdrel
- Ceramics Museum (Musee de la Ceraimque)
- How To Get To Rouen
- How Much Time Do You Need in Rouen
- Where to Stay in Rouen
- Rouen Frequently Asked Questions
- Best Things to Do in Rouen Wrap-up
Interesting Facts About Rouen
Before jumping into all the great things to do in Rouen, I want to share some cool and interesting facts about this city! Rouen is known for being a port city since it is located on the River Seine. This charming city is also the capital of the Normandy region and has a significant amount of history. It was one of the most prosperous during the Medieval times, and you can still see remnants today.
As a lover of Viking history, I think it is pretty neat that this is where Rollo became the ruler of the Normandy Region. Rouen is also the historic spot where Joan of Arc was tried and burned at the stake. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning the city was majorly damaged during WWII, but thankfully, there is still plenty to enjoy today.
Art lovers also love visiting Rouen, as this is where Claude Monet spent time painting the Rouen Cathedral.
Aside from the history, I was also drawn to Rouen for its beautiful half-timber homes dotted around the city.
Best Things to Do in Rouen
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Rouen. After, I will include additional tips you might want to know when visiting Rouen, France including FAQ’s.
Rouen Travel Tip: Museums are closed on Tuesdays; avoid visiting this day.
Notre Dame Cathedral Rouen
Probably one of the most notable attractions in Rouen is the Notre Dame Cathedral, also known as the Rouen Cathedral. This church is truly impressive. The church started construction in 1030 and was built for almost 800 years! This makes the Cathedral unique because you can see a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture with 3 different (and unique) towers.
Moreover, it’s the largest cathedral in France and famously known for Monet’s painting of it. It is free to go inside, and I highly recommend it. While not as impressive as the outside, it has to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.
Address: Pl. de la Cathédrale, 76000 Rouen, France
Le Gros Horloge
You can’t visit Rouen without seeing the Le Gros Horloge, a 14th Century Astronomical Clock. You can see beautiful details on either side of the arch where the clock is located. The Renaissance arch and artwork is just the icing on the cake, and for me, it just screams France.
Fun Fact: The mechanism used in Le Gros Horloge is believed to be one of the oldest in France.
Rouen Museum of Fine Arts (The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen)
I was on the fence about visiting another art museum after just coming from Paris, but I am glad I went inside. This art museum is done so well, and honestly, I didn’t even realize how big this building was.
Inside, you can see the famous artwork of Claude Monet (including his cathedral), among other genres of art and sculptures. A piece I also enjoyed was a painting of Joan of Arc on the stake by Alexandre Evariste Fragonard.
Best yet, the regular collection is free to visit, so enjoy browsing around.
Hours: Wednesday – Monday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Address: Esp. Marcel Duchamp, 76000 Rouen, France
Saint-Ouen Abbey Church
Built in the 14th century, it is another beautiful example of Gothic construction. Known for its famous organ, the Saint-Ouen Abbey church is another great place to visit in Rouen. I must admit, it was under construction during our visit, so we could not see its beauty. Once the renovations are finished, I would highly recommend checking it out.
You can easily find out if it’s under renovation by either checking Google reviews. We walked all the way here and were greeted with scaffolding. You can still go inside, but there is not much to see. It may be under construction for the next 4 years, but hopefully not, so you can visit!
Address: Pl. du Général de Gaulle, 76000 Rouen, France
Place du Vieux-Marché
Visiting this historic square is one of the best things to do in Rouen. Aside from Place du Vieux-Marché being surrounded by the most charming timbered houses, there is an important piece of history that transpired here. This old market square is famously known as the place where Joan of Arc took her last breath – but more about that later.
This is the perfect place to relax or grab a bite to eat as restaurants fill the square. While here, consider trying roasted duck or apples-based treats, as Rouen is known for these. Or, just enjoy sipping on some French wine!
If you’re a real foodie, consider making reservations to La Couronne, where Julia Child had her first meal and instantly fell in love.
Rouen Travel Tip: Lunch is usually from 12 PM – 2 PM and most things will be closed during these hours.
St Joan of Arc’s Church
While visiting Place du Vieux-Marché, make sure to head over to the St. Joan of Arc’s Church. If the name sounds familiar, you would be correct. She was considered a hero/saint for her role in the siege of Orléans and this church was built in her honor. In 1431 at the age of 19, Joan was burned at the stake for hearsay.
Inside the church, you will see beautiful stained glass windows. It is free to visit, so make sure to head inside as this is one of the best things to do in Rouen. Outside the church, you can see the monument cross that was built in the spot they believe she was burned and surrounded by a garden.
Hours: Saturday – Thursday: 10 AM – 12 PM; 2 PM – 6 PM. Friday: 2 – 6 PM
Address: Pl. du Vieux Marché, 76000 Rouen, France
St. Maclou Catholic Church
Yet, another impressive piece of Gothic architecture goes to the St. Maclou Roman Catholic Church. It is also said to be one of the finest examples of Flamboyant style (form of late Gothic architecture) in France.
If you love Gothic Architecture and churches, make sure to check out St. Maclou, as it is also free to visit.
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10 AM – 12 PM; 2PM – 5 PM
Address: 7 Pl. Barthélémy, 76000 Rouen, France
Musée Le Secq des Tournelles
If you love ironwork, you need to visit Musée Le Secq des Tournelles. We stumbled here accidently admiring what was once the 15th century church of Saint-Laurent. Upon further inspection, we learned it was a museum and because it was free, we decided to go inside.
I truly believe this is quite the hidden gem in Rouen, and is definitely one of the best things to do when visiting. From keys, locks, and chests to tools, gates and cutlery, the metal work here is magnifigant. It takes you back in time when ironwork was more than just a necessity, but a true form of artwork.
Hours: Wednesday – Monday: 2 PM – 6 PM
Address: 2 Rue Jacques Villon, 76000 Rouen, France
Wander Around the Streets of Rouen
This is probably a given, but since Rouen is not terribly large, I urge you to get lost in this small city. I particularly loved looking for the timber homes that remind me of a fairytale. Anyone noticing some Beauty and the Beast vibes? Regardless, you can’t go wrong, which is why I think it is one of the best things to do in Rouen.
Rouen has several greenspaces, but I believe one of the best spots to enjoy is at Square Verdrel. This park has grassy lawns, a walking path, a water fountain feature and it is located next to the museums, therefore it is a win win. You will also find a lot of locals here, which is nice.
Address: Rue Jean Lecanuet, 76000 Rouen, France
Ceramics Museum (Musee de la Ceraimque)
If you’re spending several days in Rouen or you love Ceramics, I would also suggest checking out this free museum. Inside you will discover hundreds of pieces, including 12th century Rouen earthenware, porcelain, and even Delft.
Rouen Travel Tip: Make sure to have Google Translate to take pictures of the signs, as most are only in French.
Hours: Wednesday – Monday: 2 PM – 6 PM
Address: 1 Rue Faucon, 76000 Rouen, France
How To Get To Rouen
Now that you know some of the best things to do in Rouen, France, it is important to know how to get here. You can easily drive to Rouen, but you will most likely be taking the train.
The station is Gare de Rouen, and it is always best to get your tickets in advance. This is because there is no set price on ticket journeys from city to city and they are always cheaper when booked in advance. You can find train tickets here.
You will likely be coming from Paris, so head to Paris Gare Saint-Lazare. From here, it is about a 1 hour and 30 minute train ride.
While waiting at the Rouen train station, try your hand at the piano!
Train Travel Tip: Always double check to see if your ticket needs to be validated! You will see a machine that does validation.
How Much Time Do You Need in Rouen
Rouen is a very popular day trip from Paris and since the city is rather small, you can easily see the top attractions in just a day. However, if you plan to use Rouen as a jumping point to other places in Normandy such as the Beaches of Normandy and Étretat, 2-3 days in Rouen is perfectly fine.
Just have the expectation of soaking in the local French culture, rather than jumping from one attraction to the other as you might do in Paris.
Where to Stay in Rouen
If you decide to stay in Rouen, you have a few choices when it comes to accommodations.
- Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde, Autograph Collection (Luxury)
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Rouen Centre (Upscale)
- Mercure Rouen Centre Cathédrale (Moderate)
- Le Vieux Carré (Budget)
Rouen Frequently Asked Questions
Is Rouen Worth Visiting
If you have an interest in French history or medieval history, Rouen is definitely worth visiting. This ancient city is a true treasure. Rouen is also perfect if you’re looking to do something a little more off the beaten path and not overwhelmed by tourists.
If this is your first time in Fance however, and you are looking for a day trip from Paris, I may recommend one of the Palaces, say Versailles, which has more of a grand feeling.
How Do You Spend a Day in Rouen
I will have a whole step by step walking tour guide coming out soon on how to spend the perfect day in Rouen!
How Do You Pronouce Rouen
If I am being honest, it is a little difficult if you’re an English speaker. It is pronounced in English as Rue-wahn (but almost pronounced as one syllable), with a bit of a French accent.
What is Rouen Famous For
As you have learned, Rouen is famous for being an ancient medieval city located on the Seine. Famous people associated with Rouen include Viking Rollo, William Longsword, Joan of Arc, Claude Monet, and Richard the Lion-Hearted.
Best Things to Do in Rouen Wrap-up
This concludes some of the best things to do in Rouen. I hope you have the best time exploring this Ancient city during your trip to France.
Have any questions about these things to do in Rouen, or feel like I am missing something? Let me know in the comments below, or via email/DM.