Many years ago before we had kids, my husband and I decided to somehow plant part our roots in Normandy. Neither of us is actually from the region. He is from Brittany, the next region over, and I am from the Philippines via the East Coast of the United States. We both like how close Normandy is from Paris yet it definitely feels country-like and rural in many ways. We also like the richness of the region’s history and culture. Normandy is the birthplace of Impressionism with a great deal of French painters who came to local resorts to paint, most famously Claude Monet, Jean-Francois Millet and Eugene Boudin. A great number of writers also hail from the area including Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust and Guy de Maupassant. The area has an interesting history from its early Roman and Viking roots to its latter role during World War II. So like many others who came before us, we decided about 10 years ago to buy a simple cottage in Normandy where we have spent basically every summer thereafter.
The first area we visited in Normandy once we have recovered from the jetlag of our Philippine trip is the city of Rouen. It is about forty minutes away from the house and it is probably the biggest city near us (next one heading eastward would be Paris). Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is also an ancient city where Joan of Arc was tried and eventually killed. The picture below is the Gros-Horloge, probably the most popular monument in Rouen. The single clock hand gives the hours while the central sections tells the phases of the moon.
There is also the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, a beautiful Gothic church. Early construction started in the 12th century. The grandiose exterior was used in a series of paintings by Monet to study the effect of lighting at different times of the day.
Gothic Rouen Cathedral
Some more images around town…Normandy has a lot of half-timbered homes and thatched roofs.
Adorable Tea House
Lastly, there is the exquisite Palais de Justice (or Law Courts), which was built in the 15th century in Gothic style and was the seat of Normandy’s parliament.