Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rouen and Joan of Arc - Day 2 of Tour de France, part 1

After a pretty good breakfast at Hotel Kyriad Prestige Blanc Mesnil, we started on our Tour de France by Cosmos. The traffic was pretty heavy especially in the opposite direction going into Paris. The choice of the hotel outside central Paris was apparently to make a quick getaway in the morning. On our way, we passed the Stade de France stadium in Sanit-Denis just outside Paris where France won the football World Cup in 1998, beating Brazil 3-0 no less. A fact our tour manager, Monsieur Simeon, still takes great pride in his commentary.

Our first stop was at Rouen, the city made popular as the place where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in 1431 and also the location of the Notre Dame Cathedral, famously painted by Monet. Here I had the first experience using the "whisper" which is a radio receiver where you can hear the guide through the headset. He can just whisper and you can be some distance away and still hear him so it is very convenient at crowded tourist sights. The weather was good with blue sky but a bit chilly. Here are some shots of the exterior of the cathedral.

The interior is famous for the Gothic arches.

The spires of the cathedral cast striking shadows over the buildings in the square outside

where the crowd is entertained by street musicians.

We then made our way through the main street to the Vieux-Marche square where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. Some picturesque buildings along the way.

About halfway there stood the Gros-Horloge, a decorative clock on a decorative arch. Notice anything unusual about this clock? Yes, it has only the hour hand so it tells the time single-handedly!

As you approach the square, you are greeted by a futuristic view of the Joan of Arc church.

Inside the square there is a market selling all types of cheese and other products.

Stepping out of the market, you'll see a simple metal cross marking the spot where Joan of Arc was burnt.

This is just outside the Joan of Arc church which is of modern design though the stained glass windows are from an older church destroyed in World War II.

There is also a modern sculpture of Joan of Arc inside the church.

In front of the church is a beautiful square where we sat down for a little rest over coffee and took in the view.

The missus also managed to do some window shopping.

From Rouen, we took a leisurely drive to the lovely port of Honfleur.

Ronald Kwok

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