Want to know what to do in Rouen in 2 days? In this article, you will find the essential places to see in the prefecture of Seine-Maritime.
A city which is ideally located, less than 2 hours by car from Paris and only 1h15 by train from the capital.
Whether you decide to visit Rouen in 2 days, with family or lovers, you will find all kinds of interesting places to discover: the historic heart and its half-timbered houses, the cathedral, the big clock and many other curiosities.
To top it off, on site, there is no shortage of gourmet addresses and the city center of Rouen can be explored on foot if you come by train.
At the end of this blog post, I also give you hotel or guest house suggestions so that this weekend in Rouen is perfect!
Finally, for visitors with a vehicle, some very pretty sites are to be seen in the surroundings, such as the abbey of Jumièges for example.
What to do in Rouen in 2 days
In this article, what to do in Rouen, we will start by telling you about the historic center and the must-see places: the cathedral, the Gros Horloge, the half-timbered houses, etc.
Then, in a second part, we tell you about the other sites to discover outside the city. Some are accessible if you are on foot, such as the quays of the Seine or the abbey church of Rouen.
The other places are rather accessible by car, like the superb abbey of Jumièges or the fruit road.
1st option: you came by train, visit Rouen on foot
1st day: historic center + gourmet addresses + Saint-Ouen abbey church in Rouen.
2nd day: Quays of the Seine (+historic center).
2nd option: you came to Rouen by car
1st day: historic center + gourmet addresses + Saint-Ouen abbey church in Rouen.
2nd day: to choose between the abbey of Jumièges, the fruit route, the quays of the Seine.
Day 1: visit of the historic center of Rouen on foot
Close to Paris, Rouen is the ideal city to escape for a weekend with family or lovers. Easily accessible by train or car, it is then easy to visit Rouen on foot.
Looking for what to do in Rouen? On the program for this first day: the historic center, with its half-timbered houses, its cathedral and the famous Gros Horloge… Among others.
Visit the historic center of Rouen and its half-timbered houses
In all seasons, it is pleasant to visit Rouen on foot. In the main arteries or the small surrounding streets, the half-timbered houses are numerous, varied and very beautiful!
Here is a short itinerary to follow when you visit Rouen on foot, in order to see the must-see places, by sector.
The Old Market Square and the Church of Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc
The Place du Vieux Marché is one of the emblematic squares of the city of Rouen. As the name suggests, a market has been held here for several centuries.
This place is also important historically since it is here that Joan of Arc was condemned to be burned alive in 1431. The location is now indicated by a cross.
In the center of the Place du Vieux Marché, it is impossible to miss the modern and surprising Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc church, which was built in 1979.
Place de la Pucelle with the Bourgtheroulde hotel
Place de la Pucelle was named so by mistake, thinking that Joan of Arc had been burned here. This place is interesting in several ways. First, for its few cafes, restaurants and pretty houses.
But also and above all because of the Hotel Bourgtheroulde, a 5* establishment, but which is also a remarkable former private mansion.
Classified as a historic monument, this hotel is worth seeing at least from the outside, but also inside if you are lucky enough to have a drink at the bar or sleep there (I’ll tell you about it at the end of the article ).
Otherwise, the facade, the courtyard and the gallery of Aumale are to be seen, with many details to discover on both sides.
From there, to continue this visit of Rouen, I suggest you take Rue de la Vicomte. A friendly lane with pretty houses, which leads to rue du Gros Horloge, the famous shopping and tourist thoroughfare. In continuity, rue Écuyère is also not to be missed.
The Gros Horloge and the cathedral
Here we are in the heart of Rouen, in the essential and emblematic places of the city. In the rue du Gros Horloge, full of shops and bustling, it is impossible to miss the famous… Gros Horloge!
What is called Gros Horloge is a magnificent architectural ensemble made up of several elements including the belfry, but also the famous clocks with a double Renaissance dial. Note that it is possible to visit this site and see behind the scenes.
Then, at the very end of the rue du Gros Horloge is the other emblematic place of the city: the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Rouen.
A building which has been immortalized more than 30 times by Claude Monet and which is today one of the most famous places in Rouen. Built in the 12th century, the cathedral of Rouen is today one of the most famous in France, with its spire which rises to 151 meters and its Gothic facade.
Among the particularities of Notre-Dame cathedral, note the presence of the most imposing carillon in France in the Saint-Romain tower… Or the heart of Richard Coeur de Lion, King of England and Duke of Normandy. This was deposited in the crypt.
Admission is free, guided tours can be organized via the Rouen tourist office. These can eventually allow you to see the crypts.
Place Barthélémy and Saint-Maclou district
Once you have passed the cathedral, I strongly advise you to head towards the Saint-Maclou district. To see, on the way, the very pretty rue Saint-Romain which runs along the cathedral and also passes in front of the Historial Jeanne d’Arc, a history museum dedicated to Joan of Arc.
In rue Saint-Romain, you just have to look up to notice the very beautiful houses typical of the historic center of Rouen. Note the presence of a tasty tea room, which I will tell you about at the end of the article.
In the unusual genre, do not miss the small rue des Chanoines. Perpendicular to rue Sain-Romain, rue des Chanoines is an atypical artery due to its narrowness and its atmosphere where one seems to return in the blink of an eye to medieval times.
At the end, you then arrive at Place Saint-Barthélémy. One of my favorite places in Rouen. For what ? Quite simply because it is a little away from the crowds, while being just a few steps from the Gros Horloge and the cathedral.
On the square, you will notice the elegant Saint-Maclou church, surrounded by splendid half-timbered houses in shimmering colours.
THE AÎTRE SAINT-MACLOU AND THE LEGEND OF THE WALLED CAT
Finally, once here, I really suggest you take rue Martainville, with its certain charm, and go see the Aître Saint-Maclou. A little secret place that we gladly discover with family or lovers…
On the spot, there is a small curiosity… With in particular the presence of a mummified cat in a window. Yes yes, you read correctly! Legend has it that this cat was discovered in a wall a few decades ago…
Indeed, in the 17th century, our friends the cats were walled up alive to prevent the devil, whom they embodied, from haunting the place!
Saint-Ouen Abbey in Rouen
Once in the district, you will not be far from the famous Saint-Ouen Abbey in Rouen, as beautiful to see from the outside as from the inside. Founded around 750, the abbey has impressive proportions… So much so that many tourists confuse it with the cathedral!
To end this walking tour of Rouen, let’s walk towards rue Eau de Robec. A lovely street with a small stream and an intimate petanque court adjoined by a popular little bar…
Alright, we’ve finished our little tour. Whatever… If you still have a little strength, go see the courtyard of the Parliament of Normandy. Just for the pleasure of the eyes, it’s sublime.
See also in Rouen
During this first day, as you have read, there is no shortage of things to see in Rouen. If you wish to extend the visit on the first day or on the second day, here are some additional places to visit:
the Canvas Hall
the Ferdinand Marrou house (29 rue Verte)
Secq des Tournelles
And for other ideas or additional information, I invite you to consult the website of the Rouen tourist office.
Not to be missed in summer: the Cathedral of Light Show
In summer, you can see a sound and light show projected onto the Cathedral. When we were there, the chosen themes tell the story of Joan of Arc then that of William the Conqueror and frankly we were amazed. But look in the photo for the level of detail in this sight.
It’s beautiful, it’s free and it’s every night from nightfall. For more information, file on the website of the tourist office.
Day 2: the quays of the Seine, the abbey of Jumièges, the fruit route…
For this second day, we start by talking about the places that are accessible on foot or by public transport. First, the Saint-Catherine hill to have a magnificent panorama of Rouen. Then, the quays of the Seine, which shows a more modern aspect of the city.
Then, we talk about sites that are outside Rouen and which are more accessible if you have a vehicle: the abbey of Jumièges or the fruit road, among others.
The panorama from the Colline-Sainte-Catherine
A nice view from Sainte Catherine hill. It allows you to have an overview of this city shared by the Seine and so well dressed with its pretty monuments which are easily distinguished from this point. It is also a great spot for sunsets.
Discovery of the quays of the Seine in Rouen
The quays of the Seine are sometimes neglected by tourists, but they nevertheless have a certain charm, between the river and its rehabilitated hangars around. We walk there quietly and we land in one of the restaurants, cafes or for a ride on a boat.
For our part, we took the time to visit the quays of the Seine aboard a Rosalie! We really liked the concept, with Rosa’Rouen, on the left bank of Rouen. This ride, fun for families or couples, is also at a rather affordable price. Count around 15 euros per half hour for 2 adults and 2 children.
Outside Rouen: Jumièges Abbey
For this second day in Rouen and its surroundings, we are going to see a remarkable site. About 35 minutes from Rouen is the small village of Jumièges, famous for its Abbey.
This dates from the 8th century and is today one of the oldest and most imposing Benedictine monasteries in Normandy. Despite the absence of a roof, the charm operates in the middle of white towers which reach, for the largest, nearly 50 meters in height!
On site, try the experience of the virtual visit on your smartphone to dive back 13 centuries earlier and, among other things, see the abbey again with its roof.
Prices: €6.50 to €7.50 per adult depending on the season. Please note that the opening hours change in winter and summer.
The fruit route by bike
It is a walk that we rather gladly do in the summer. From the Jumièges tourist office, we rented bikes to go on the paths of the fruit route.
It is an institution in Normandy! The principle is simple, yet brilliant. The inhabitants of Jumièges, for the most part, grow fruit which they sell at the gate of their villa.
We call that here selling at the barrier. On your side, you walk along the Seine and you stop at the gate that attracts you the most to buy some fruit. It’s awesome though! A great opportunity, also to take in the great outdoors and experience Normandy by bike. more info here.