Rouen Treasures

Rouen’s Old Market Square

Rouen was the most prolonged stay on our cathedral pilgrimage. It was a perfect home base with three unique Gothic churches, beautiful architecture around every corner, magnificent museums, a rich history, and a strategic location to explore other cathedrals. Staying in the hyper-center of the city immersed us in all these treasures.

The narrow medieval streets around our apartment with Église Saint-Patrice open for personal prayer

We stayed in a medieval building beautifully renovated and hosted by a thoughtful and kind gentleman. The apartment was small but adequate for the two of us, although being surrounded by other flats made us feel like we were staying in “The Aquarium” of the Quai des Orfèvres (the Paris police prefecture) in the Inspector Maigret series. But that’s what curtains are for.

On my first exploration of the neighborhood, I was eager to see the sixteenth-century church around the corner dedicated to Saint Patrick and built in both flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its door was open, and I reverently entered to find a marvelously old place of worship currently in use. A woman entered after me to spend time in prayer. I left so I wouldn’t distract her, but eventually returned to marvel at this lovely building.

Église Saint-Patrice de Rouen

Very close to the apartment was the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts, a free museum we enjoyed on two occasions. As I mentioned in my last post, they have a gallery dedicated to the life of Joan of Arc, but their collection is extensive. I particularly liked the model of the Church of Saint-Maclou and the set of paintings of the twelve apostles by Nicolas Poussin. In these half-length portraits, each apostle is depicted with a different symbol of their martyrdom. They are considered to be one of Poussin’s masterpieces.

Rouen’s Museum of Fine Arts
Model of the Church of Saint-Maclou
Paintings from the set of the 12 Apostles by Nicolas Poussin

Close to the Fine Arts Museum is the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, a museum of ironwork located in a former parish church dedicated to Saint Lawrence dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The church is defunct, but the collection in its gothic structure is terrific. Entrance is free, and we loved exploring the displays and the building.

Musée Le Secq des Tournelles
Musée Le Secq des Tournelles

Finally, I wanted to see the equestrian statue of Napoleon in front of the Town Hall. A cache of bronze, silver, and gold coins of Napoleon III was found in its pedestal when the statue was taken down for repairs in 2020. Since then, it has been expertly restored. Napoleon is a controversial figure, and there have been several movements to replace his effigy, but thankfully, a love for history has prevailed, and there it proudly stands today.

Equestrian statue of Napoleon in front of Rouen Town Hall with St. Ouen Abbey in the background

We scarcely mined the treasures of Rouen. But we were privileged to delight in its offerings and use it as a launching pad to visit Chartres, Bayeux, and Mont-Saint-Michel, which will provide the material for my next few posts.

Index of blog posts for our Cathedral Pilgrimage