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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Le Havre, France and a visit to Rouen, capital of Normandy

What do French teenage girls do? Same as American girls, they text on their I-Phones
Rouen's Notre Dame Cathedral

Our last port of call was Le Havre, the largest port in France located on the English Channel. We docked very early on Saturday morning because many of the ship’s passengers were leaving for Paris, on a one day excursion. That’s a 3 hour bus ride to Paris, a 3 hour tour around Paris and a 3 hour bus ride back to Le Havre.  That’s no way to see Paris. 
We’ve been there more than once and also to the D-Day Beaches which we saw last year, so we chose to take a shore excursion to the medieval city of Rouen, (pronounced roo-ah), home to one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe, the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  If you’re wondering if this is the same as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, the answer is no, it’s not! They are all named after Mary (Notre Dame) in France. 
The afternoon rolled around and we were soon packed into a bus headed for the one-hour drive alongside the River Seine.  It was pouring down rain, the kind that comes down sideways and we didn’t think this was going to turn out too well, but it did!
The Cathedral dominates the skyline of the city.  It is the epitome of the development of Gothic art starting back in the 12th Century. It was built on the foundations of a 4th Century basilica and an 11th Century Romanesque edifice.  The Vikings destroyed it in 841, then it was rebuilt and then bombed and partially destroyed by mistake by Allied bombers in WW2. Today it is in a constant state of restoration. The central spire is 151 meters high making it the highest in France.  Inside you’ll see the tombs of the Dukes of Normandy and another one containing the heart of Richard the Lionhearted.

I am always amazed at the height of the ceilings of these Gothic cathedrals. They just seem to go all the way up to the sky. Our walk through the old quarter included some other Gothic churches, also the Parliament of Normandy and the Court House. What we didn’t know was this part of France was actually a part of England in the 9th and 10th Centuries. It is very evident in the architecture in the houses in the old quarter.

I met two French policemen coming out of roll call and going on duty. One spoke English so I was able to introduce myself and show them my “badge”. They offered to take me on patrol with them but I had to decline because of time. It would have been fun.
Our guided walking tour concluded at the spot and church where 20 year old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1340. She was a casualty of the Hundred Years War.
We all got some free time to talk around the city square and market on our own and enjoyed meeting a clown entertaining kids and tourists as they walk by.  It helps if you drop a coin into his bucket.
By the way, the driving rain stopped just as we rolled into the city, blue skies started to appear and in no time at all it was a beautiful sunny, if not crispy, day! However, it went by too fast and soon it was time to board the bus and back to the Ruby Princess.

Site of Joan of Arc execution

Tomorrow (Sunday) we arrive in South Hampton and depart by coach for Central London.  We are staying at the Churchill-Hyatt Regency near Hyde Park. Monday we’re doing an all-day tour going to Stonehenge, Bath and Windsor Park.  Tuesday we head home, nonstop on United, back to Houston and Tanner!

MA and our friend the Clown of Rouen

Rouen's Market

Some of the exterior facade of the Cathedral

One of my better photos inside the Cathedral

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting us travel with you through these beautiful pics!


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