Last week I had a long weekend at work – Thursday was a religious holiday in Belgium and Friday I took the day off. I was discussing with my friend Felipe Lodi what could we do those days. I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of road trips. I would rather stay at home, watch films, play some games and relax. He proposed to drive to Bordeaux – a nice 10 hours from Belgium. Of course this was a crazy idea, so I remembered that I always wanted to see Mt Saint Michel in the Normandy.
We quickly agreed that a trip to Mt Saint Michel would be bearable as it is 6 hours from Brussels and there are other things to see in the area. Our schedule was to be:
- Day 1 – Rouen + Mt Saint Michel
- Day 2 – Rennes + Omaha Beach
- Day 3 – Etretat
This first post will cover Rouen and Mt Saint Michel. All the pictures have been taken by Felipe. Thank you for letting me use them!
We left Brussels on Thursday around 10 AM – me, my lady, Felipe, his wife, their 10 month old baby and their poodle Tequila. Our plan was to drive to Rouen, stop for lunch and the go to Mt Saint Michel.
The trip to Rouen was perfect as all road trip beginnings are. The traffic was less than I expected considering we were leaving in the beginning of a long weekend. The roads in Belgium are well conserved and toll-free. The time between Brussels and the French border is a little more than 1 hour.
As soon as we entered the French territory the toll booths started to bloom. I read that roads in France were not cheap and tolls were common, but I could never imagine how usual they are. Between Brussels and Rennes (our final point), there are 5 toll booths. Adding all the fares you will put just on road duties a little more than 20 euro.
Rouen is a nice medium city in the Haute-Normandie (high Normandy). During the medium ages it was an important center for trade and one of the richest cities in Europe. Rouen is mostly known for being the place where Joan D´Arc was executed in 1431 for witchcraft.
As we had only 3 hours in the city we quickly got to see the main touristic points:
- The Rouen Cathedral – Very nice church for the 4th century. From what I could understand there are sections of the church that were painted by Claude Monet. The facade is currently under restoration and some of the sculptures can be seen inside the building. Overall it is a very french church.
- The Big Clock – From the Rouen Cathedral you can walk to the Big Clock in 5 minutes. This is a clock with golden details over an arch. It reminded me of the one in Prague, even though they don´t have anything in common. I read you can climb to have a nice view of the city but there was no time for this.
- Eglise de Joanne D´Arc – After passing the Big Clock further 5 minutes will get you to the Joan of Arc church. This is a new building constructed in the 1970´s close to where the french woman was burned to death. I really liked the architecture of the building. There is a very high ceiling with a wave format. The inside of the church is simple and woody.
As we were in a hurry, there was not time to have real french food, we stopped at McDonald’s. I ate a McBaguette – long bread, burger, ementhal cheese and mustard sauce. Of course it was not special, but at least was different from the usual McFood.
We were fed and ready for the next leg of the journey between Rouen and Mt Saint Michel.
Some more nice pictures of Rouen: