It was with sodden hearts (the rain…my god, the rain in Normandy) and cold toes (we had to camp out in the unheated train station for a couple of hours as we waited for our Intercités back to Paris) that we said goodbye to Rouen on Sunday; our third European jaunt indeed proved to be the charm as we found ourselves rested, happy, and without a trace of disappointment (that last element isn’t entirely true, but then again, what is?) after our weekend away from home.
After the aforeblogged pigeon roused us to full wakefulness, we set about wandering the town. Knowing that Rouen was much smaller, and thus not subject to a must-do list, we started the morning by wandering through the massive cathedral just down the street from our hotel. A stunning testament to stone-based engineering from the outside, we were surprised to find that it is entirely possible to simply waltz in the front door and proceed to wander around.
Cavernous and surprisingly cold (which, upon reflection, is probably more of a feature and less of a bug when one considers that the religion prompting the construction of said cathedral was fond of hair shirts), the inside seemed to go on forever while simultaneously looking like the inside of every other massive stone church we’ve seen thus far, with the exception of the heat lamps (from what I hear, they’ve recently moved away from the hair shirts). One unique feature, however, was the presence of multiple small tombs, one of which contains the heart of Richard the Lionhearted. While I’d heard of the monarch-heart-removal thing before (the French were periodic practitioners as well), wikipedia claims that various parts of Richard are buried in multiple places, with his entrails being buried in the castle he was besieging when he was killed, his body (the shell, I suppose) being buried near that of his father, and his heart, as mentioned, in Rouen.
I understand not particularly liking one’s guts (and mine continue to provide us further experience with the [mercifully superior] French healthcare system), but burying them somewhere else, even if that somewhere is the place where some giggling jackass fatally shot you with a crossbow, seems, perhaps, a touch extreme. Then again, I’m a yokel from several thousand miles away, so maybe this is really A Thing.
Upon exiting the cathedral we found ourselves facing a game store, so we went in. Despite having a copy that we brought from the US sitting on one of our bookshelves (it’s been stripped to just the game pieces and the scoring manual, so stop looking at me like that), we bought a copy of Carcassonne, which I rationalized by pointing out that
- it’s the winter tileset and
- it’s in French, so yo dawg I heard you like Carcassonne so I put Carcassonne in your Carcassonne so you can Carcassonne while in Carcassonne, but in French. (If we go to Carcassonne)
Oh, and the sheep expansion set.
Newly encumbered by our surprisingly inexpensive treasure (prime lesson from this trip: holy shit is everything so much less expensive outside of Paris), we proceeded to cathedral hop, which consists largely of looking up, spotting a spire, and responding to the question “Do you want to see what that one looks like?” affirmatively. Along the way we marveled at the streets, observed that Haussmann was probably wise to grenade the, um, pre-Haussmannian quarters of Paris, and stumbled on and endless number of random (Bob Marley head shop, violin shop, ugly furniture shop) stores. A couple of hours later,we returned to the hotel to drop our games and, after lunch, went and saw the Gros Horloge, which is a 16th century clock whose mechanism dates to the late 14th century.
An at-times-uncomfortable jaunt through a high-end jewelry store and a browse through Printemps later brought us to the conclusion of our day; we had not fully paid attention to the room service menu (who, exactly, decided it was a good idea to refrain from offering room service on Saturdays, Sundays, and bank holidays?), so I was unable to get my much-anticipated Mediterranean vegetable lasagna (and the foie gras starter). Defeated, we ended up grabbing food from a Monoprix and an unfortunately-sub-par boulangerie. The local bottle of cider (opened with the tire bouchon [not going to forget that one] we’d had to ask for from the non-English-speaking proprietress of Nicholas on Friday evening, and which will now live in my shaving kit because hey, we’re the kind of people that need corkscrews when we travel) was good, and the macaroons decent, so not all was lost.
Sunday morning, unsurprisingly, marked the return of our enthusiastic pigeon.