We decided to do a Less-Driving Day, since all of our nerves were a bit frayed from the hectic driving, the bossy Navimatrix voice of the GPS system, and especially from Rosie's incessant blood-curdling SCREAMING, as is her habit any time she's in a car.
So from our B&B we made the short little trek to Rouen, and parked in the shadow of enormous, commanding yet graceful, intricate gothic cathedral. Not mentioned in any guidebooks, though, because on the same block are three others, more ancient, more impressive, or more renouned! Meh, a mere FIFTEENTH century example. Pluh.
We stuffed Rosie in the backpack and wandered into the skeewompus leaning half-timbered medieval alleys, drooled all over ourselves looking into shopwindows. At one point, I thought I was looking into a pastry shop-- I licked my lips and got closer, and saw that it was actually a baby shoe store. Every shop was tasty-looking.
Rosie, eventually, fell asleep.
We went to the ceramics museum! This was the only good part, actually. It explained the process of the famous (but boring, sorry) white ceramics.
It's Kate and Liz!
I LOVED the ironworks museum. It's in another ancient cathedral (meh! Dime a dozen) turned gothic house for somebody's rennaisance ironworks collection.
I loved these delicate contraptions-- they reminded me of the "philosophical instruments" from The Golden Compass...
The museum, with all the ornate iron ornaments...
Why go to france?
The Cathedral! And what, hehe, is your impression of it? hehe, get it? Get it?
And.... The Rouen Cathedral! one of the famous series by Monet, at the Fine Arts Museum.
Look at these creepy guys. I mean, venerable saints. I mean, LOTR nazgul props.
This is the tomb of Rollo, the great-grandfather of William the Conquerer. ANCIENT history here guys.
I loved this creepy crouching angel, about to stand up and fill the space with the beating of wings.
Ah, this is for my inner catholic. As a kid I visited all these European churches and it made a deep impression on me, and I've always been a closet catholic since. I LOVE the candles, the sorrow, the tragic music, the solemnity, the emptiness, the pomp, the ritual, the history, the mysticism, the blatant paganism.
The outside of the Rouen Cathedral. Notice the guy doing a handstand?
The underside of the Big Clock passageway...
The great clock itself.
We found a little playground near the museums and Rosie had a lovely time going down the tiny slide in a cloud of tobacco smoke from all the other attending parents, and got some toasty tasty sandwiches from a little bakery and ate them sitting by a fountain. It was lovely how Rouen is this bustling city center in the middle of wide open pastures, with hardly any suburbs. Really, isn't that ideal? So everybody lives in the city but right near the country with no ghastly endless suburbian maze to waste away in...
Thanks Rouen! Thanks Normandy! Now we're on to the next thing, heading south to Lyon.