Locals have all of the best addresses and insider know-how on how to best discover and enjoy their city? We have asked Thomas Digiaud, who is a travel advisor and tour guide at Rouen Normandy Tourism & Congress, for his inside scoop on Rouen, the Capital of Normandy.
I was born and bred in Rouen and I was and still am in wonder of this charming city. It allowed me to flourish in life and it gave me the chance to have a serene and happy upbringing. I briefly left the capital for the region of La Manche, another superb part of our beautiful Normandy, for work, but returned to Rouen after 5 years where I joined the Tourist Office of Rouen.
Returning, I was able to measure and see the evolution and positive transformations of the city during my short absence. Rouen is proud of its history and heritage and the city does a wonderful job in preserving it. This makes my job so much easier and genuine, because it is so easy to praise its merits and riches when they are really authentic.
the magic of Rouen
To me Rouen is an open-air historical book, full of passion and mystique, that you can only discover by taking a stroll through its historic heart. Be guided by your own curiosity, desire and intuition, it is the best way to fully experience the magic of this city.
My tip is to follow the linear west-east axis by starting off from the Old Square Market, where Joan of Arc was executed, to the Place Saint-Marc, passing by the Big-Clock and its belfry dating from the Renaissance. Then move onto the gothic Parliament of Normandy and the medieval district that is made up of an incredible richness of churches and half-timber houses, some of which date back to the 15th century.
We, the locals, sometimes forget that there are so much to discover in one’s own town and that you do not have to look far to discover historical splendours. This is exactly how I feel about the Saint-Patrice district. A discovery that will make you feel like you time travelled to a 16th century neighbourhood – a wonderful surprise – seeing that you are after all in a predominantly medieval town. Saint-Patrice church with its magnificent stained-glass windows are surrounded by beautiful private mansions and charming cobbled stoned streets is a place that you can get lost in… It genuinely feels like an immersion into Paul Féval’s novel, Le Bossu, and we expect Le Hunchback to make an appearance at any moment!
The “Art de vivre”
of having fun
Leisure activities are really what I take great pleasure in and I am particularly spoiled to have a lot of choices in Rouen and its immediate surroundings. Bowling, escape games, karting, laser games, trampoline parks, playgrounds, games, virtual reality rooms… and if you are in the city and love karaoke, why not challenge me to a sing-off, I love challenges… There really is something for everyone and having fun is an integral part of the “Art de Vivre”.
your 6th sense
If you like food, you are in the right place. Rouen has numerous very good restaurants and most of them pride themselves to show you how generous Norman gastronomy is.
I would certainly put the spotlight on the restaurant “Le 6è Sens” or 6th Sense with its contemporary, comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. The superb vaults of the restaurant are a vestige of an unfinished town hall and dates back to 1749.
Each dish they serve is not only a visual treat but a sensory discovery for your palate. My favourite is the duckling thigh. It is cooked for a long time at a low temperature which results in extremely tender meat that falls off the bone. It is served with carrots in all its forms and apricots – this is a gastronomical moment of pleasure and absolutely delicious!