Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fun day in Rouen

May 15th
A good night's sleep and we are ready to do some exploring. The weary feeling is gone ! Everything looks much better even though there is rain forecasted.

Our host serves us breakfast in his well decorated living room/dinning room. He occupies the top two floors of a grand old narrow timbered home in the old section. We have an interesting conversation with him and learn about the many paintings throughout his home. Most were painted by his grandfather (Fran├žois Ablett). Family members are in the majority of the ones he has displayed. Very well done.

We walk over to the tourist center, which is right in front of the cathedral and pick up audio walking guides of the city. Lots of history and facts that really add to our stroll of the town. It takes us through the cathedral again and of course we understand it better.

There are 26 stops that takes us all around...lots of half-timbered homes and buildings, several churches, an ossuary (open courtyard which was a cemetery several centuries ago, surrounded by shops which now form an art school), and museums. Several are closed on Tuesday so we have to pass by. One church in particular, St. Ouen, Daniel had recommended.

Rouen was the site in 1439 of Jean d'Arc's trial, condemnation, and execution. She was only 19 years old. The British military court found her guilty of heresy against the Catholic church. The result: burning at the stake! Her real "crime" was leading the French army to several victories over the British who were fighting to gain control of Normandy (the region where Rouen is located). [Normandy is so-called because the Normans (Denmark, Sweden) conquered that area from the Gauls (predecessors of the French).]

A modern church (1990s) is built near the spot where St. Jean d'Arc was executed. The architecture is extreme and unusual for the area in Rouen. The stained glass windows were resurrected from a 15th century church that existed at the same location.

We met Julien, a young man, while having coffee and pastry in his wife's patisserie. We hope to help him market his unique apparel product in the US...maybe in Singapore, too.

After our 5 hour walk, we settled back in Daniel's living room. Mom played Scrabble while I tried to read, but fell asleep.

When Daniel was a young architect, he bought a castle...yes, a real castle! He remodeled and renovated it completely...11 bedrooms and 11 baths plus all the other required rooms. When his children moved away, he sold it and it is a hotel today.

We invited Daniel out for dinner at a nearby restaurant, Petit Auberge, where each enjoyed a set menu with appetizer, entree and dessert. Daniel speaks English with a wonderful French accent. Makes our language sound very nice. This has been a very nice stay.

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