Rouen in Normandy © French Moments
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Last Updated: 29 January 2022


The city of Rouen, sprawled along the River Seine, is still the major trading centre between Paris and the sea. This privileged location made the rich and busy city of Rouen a strategic centre, which depended on river traffic for its prosperity. Find out why Rouen in Normandy is worth a visit.


A few words about Rouen in Normandy

Nicknamed the “city of 100 bell towers” from the words of Victor Hugo, the old town of Rouen boasts in Gothic churches and mansions, Renaissance-style monuments, hundreds of restored half-timbered houses, and well-maintained public gardens…

Rouen in Normandy Map

During the Middle-Ages, Rouen was France’s second largest city after Paris. It is closely associated with Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake there in 1431. Today, Rouen makes a great base for day trips to popular sites in Normandy: Le Havre, Honfleur, Giverny, Lyons-la-Forêt, the Jumièges Abbey, Pays de Caux and the Pays d’Auge.

The town comprises about 2,000 half-timbered houses, of which half have been restored. The State has listed 227 houses as historic monuments. This makes Rouen one of the first six cities in France in terms of historic architectural richness. What a great achievement knowing that a quarter of the houses in the town’s centre were burnt down during WW2.

Place Saint Amand in Rouen copyright French Moments
Place Saint Amand, Rouen © French Moments


Population of Rouen

Rouen is situated 130kms from Paris. Its inhabitants are called Rouennais and Rouennaises.

The commune of Rouen has a population of about 111,600, ranking 34th in France.

Together with its suburbs the population of Greater Rouen has an estimated population of 500,000 people. This makes it the largest provincial city near Paris (ahead of Reims, Amiens, Troyes and Orléans) and the 6th metropolis of France.

Cote Sainte Catherine in Rouen 15 copyright French Moments
View of Rouen from the Côte Sainte-Catherine © French Moments


The city of Rouen in Normandy

Rouen is the chief city (préfecture) of the département of Seine-Maritime (number 76, pop. 1,254,000). The area extends from Elbeuf to Le Havre and Le Tréport.

From 1956 to 2015, Rouen was the chief city of the region of Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandy). In 2016, the two regions of Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy with their 5 départements merged into the larger region of Normandy (Normandie) with Rouen as chief city.

In the 21st century, Rouen is thriving as a busy and thrilling city. It offers its visitors a superbly restored town centre and a range of fascinating events. One of the most popular is the Armada de Rouen, a gathering of some of the world’s largest sailing boats.

Twinned cities

Rouen is twinned with Gdánsk (Poland), Cleveland (USA), Hanover (Germany), Norwich (UK), Ningbo (China), Salerno (Italy) and Jeju City (South Korea).


How to get to Rouen

Rouen Railway Station © French Moments
Rouen Railway Station © French Moments

There are approximately 15 daily trains from Paris Gare Saint-Lazare to Rouen. The trip takes only 1.10 hours. Travelling by train from Paris is by far the easiest way to discover Rouen on a day-trip.

Rouen is also easily reached from:

  • Paris (135 km) by the Autoroute de Normandie (motorway A13) within 1.40 hours, and
  • from the harbour town of Le Havre, from where ferries link Southern England.

If you are travelling from overseas, the best way to reach Rouen is to take a flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. From them take a train from Paris Gare Saint-Lazare or hire a car and drive from there.

This is the link to the Tourist Board of Rouen which features more info about events.

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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