The city’s main sights—and the old town— are on the Right Bank of the Seine. Visitors usually make a beeline for place du Vieux Marché. Their first impression is often one of bafflement when they see the giant modernist Church of Ste-Jeanne in the place where Joan of Arc was executed for heresy on May 30, 1431. Surrounded by medieval half-timbered restaurants and shops, the church’s 1970s architecture comes as a bit of a shock. But it somehow works, with its enormous stained-glass windows and a swirling roof that nudges the neighboring market stalls. A simple sign in the church’s garden marks the spot where France’s greatest heroine was burnt at the stake. This square was also the former home of Rouen’s Joan of Arc Museum, which closed in 2012. A new Joan of Arc Visitors’ Center is currently under construction and is expected to open in 2015.


The pedestrianized “Street of the Great Clock”—rue du Gros Horloge—runs between Rouen’s cathedral and place du Vieux Marché and is one of the hubs of the city. It’s named for an ornate gilt Renaissance clock mounted on an arch over the street and is connected to a bell tower; this had been the clock’s home until it was lowered in 1529 so that the Rouennais could get a closer look at it. You can climb the bell tower, stopping at the exhibition rooms along the way to learn about the structure’s history and watch the bells in action. At the top are lovely views of the old town and cathedral. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 1pm and 2 to 7pm from April to October, and from 2 to 6pm November to March. Admission 6€ for adults and 3€ for under 18, including audio guide. 

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