15 Things To Do In Rouen, France

things to do in rouen france

The historic capital of Normandy, Rouen is a famous old French city commonly known as the “city with a hundred bells chiming in the air”. With numerous cathedrals, this beautiful city exudes the charms of traditional French culture. Situated north of France on the River Seine, the capital city of Normandy is well known for its Notre Dame Cathedral and the city where Joan of Arc was trialled. Today, the city of Rouen is a vibrant city with old and new attractions to welcome its visitors.

Book the top places to stay, and read on to check out the top 15 things to do in Rouen, France.

1. Jardin des Plantes de Rouen - Botanical Garden

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A trip to Rouen will never be complete without a refreshing and relaxing stroll by the blooming flowers and vibrant foliage of the renowned Jardin des Plantes de Rouen, a municipal botanical garden in Upper Normandy. It has been enjoyed by locals and tourists for almost three centuries. The garden features a wide variety of extraordinary plants that are all well-kept and beautifully presented. There are also strategic areas dedicated to family recreation, arts, education, and other outdoor activities. This Rouen tourist attraction is open daily and is free of charge.

Jardin des Plantes de Rouen

Address:114B Avenue des Martyrs de la Résistance, 76100 Rouen, France

Website: Jardin des Plantes de Rouen

2. The National Museum of Education

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Step back in time and catch a glimpse of the history of children’s education in France from the 16th century up to the present. This is represented by a series of impressive educational equipment, furniture, paintings, and etchings. One of the most notable exhibits is the reconstructed 1900s schoolroom in a timber-frame house that looks very real and authentic. Guests also love the exhibit on the use of the audio-visual equipment used in education back then. There is also a collection of magic lanterns including one that works. The staff is welcoming and informative.

The National Museum of Education

Address: 185 Rue Eau de Robec, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: The National Museum of Education

Opening hours: Mon, Wed - Fri: 1:30pm - 6:15pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 12:30pm, 1:30pm - 6:15pm (closed on Tue)

3. Old Market Square of Rouen

Rouen Place du Vieux-Marché 05
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Zairon used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you don’t know what to do in Rouen, you can’t go wrong with this one. If you like to steep yourself in history and architectural wonders without going far from shops and restaurants, Old Market Square of Rouen is the right place for you. It is the same square where Joan of Arc was burned alive during the Hundred Years’ War. However, the square has drastically changed in appearance throughout the centuries. Today, most of its space is occupied by two churches: Saint-Sauveur Church and Saint-Michel Church, and a large market hall. It is also surrounded by restaurants and many spots where you can relax and enjoy refreshments.

Old Market Square of Rouen

Address: Place du Vieux Marché, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: Old Market Square of Rouen

Opening hours: 11am - 11pm (daily)

4. Social Perk

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Just two minutes of walking from Rouen Cathedral will take you to Social Perk, a cafe and restaurant serving lunch, snacks, coffee, and cakes. Customers rave about their good food, especially the bagels - which you can personalize and are served in big portions. Aside from the food and ambiance, you’ll be delighted to know that this food establishment is slightly away from most tourist spots, so a peaceful afternoon sitting in one of their cozy chairs while reading a book over a cup of coffee is possible.

Social Perk

Address: 43 Rue de la Tour de Beurre, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: Social Perk

Opening hours: Mon: 9am - 8pm; Tue - Sat: 10am - 7pm (closed on Sun)

5. Discover the secrets of Rouen (from USD 52.0)

Are you the type of tourist who easily gets bored with the usual and predictable tours of historic destinations? How about discovering the secrets and controversies of Rouen’s past in an unusual yet refreshing way? In this experience, you will be guided by your host, Julien, who will be in character as a sailor who was abandoned by his captain and armada. Together, you will embark on a two-hour expedition to Normandy. Learn about Jeanne D'Arc and explore Rouen - the gourmet snacks and humorous tour guide are just a bonus!

Discover the authentic and hidden Rouen

Duration: 2 hours

65 reviews

6. Cathédrale Notre-Dame

The key attraction for Rouen, Cathédrale Notre-Dame is the important icon for Rouen with its majestic and grand architecture. This cathedral has actually been destroyed and rebuilt several times before. The cathedral houses the tomb of Richard the Lionheart, who was the King of England. Located in the center of the city, it is one of the most visited attractions in Rouen. Magnificent light shows illuminate this Rouen attraction at night, a definite must see for the city.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame

Address: Place de la Cathedrale, Rouen, France

Website: Cathédrale Notre-Dame

7. Aître Saint-Maclou - ancient burial ground

Aître Saint-Maclou is a medieval building; it was a plague burial ground decorated with macabre death carvings and ‘Dance of Death’ statues. This place had been used as burial ground since the Roman times. The wooden frames of the buildings were ornamented with macabre details like skulls, bones, and cult objects, reminding visitors its burial purposes. It currently houses the regional school of fine arts. Visit here for its interesting past and unique architecture.

Aître Saint-Maclou

Address: 186 Rue Martainville, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: Aître Saint-Maclou

8. Tour du Gros-Horloge - The Great Clock Tower

A lovely quaint place, the beautiful clock tower is near to the shopping area, making it a convenient place to be. The whole ensemble includes the Gothic belfry, an arcade area, a Renaissance dial and a fountain. Hear the city’s bells, which still operate with the oldest watchmaking mechanisms in Europe and still chime today. Climbing up the tower offers the visitors a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the city.

Tour du Gros-Horloge - The Great Clock Tower

Address: Rue du Gros Horloge, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: Tour du Gros-Horloge

9. Eglise Jeanne d'Arc - Joan of Arc Church

A cathedral dedicated to Joan of Arc and also a museum displaying her story. The Church of Saint Joan of Arc is a Catholic church in the city center of Rouen. Completed in 1979, this was the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. The stained glass window in the church came from the Church of Saint Vincent nearby, which has been now reduced to ruins. The church loans guide headphones to introduce visitors to the various exhibits in the church.

Eglise Jeanne d'Arc

Address: Place du Vieux Marché, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: Joan of Arc Church

10. Tour Jeanne d'Arc - The Joan of Arc Tower

Rouen - Tour Jeanne d'Arc 01
Source: Photo by user Pierre-Yves Beaud... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The tower is the only remaining part of the Castle of Rouen built by the French king Philip Augustus. About 30 meters tall (98 feet), the distinctive sharp pointed roof is the icon for the tower. This was the place where Joan of Arc was brought to trial. During World War II, the tower was turned into a bunker by the Germans. Visitors can climb up the tower to catch a bird’s eye view of the city.

The Joan of Arc Tower

Address: Rue Bouvreuil, 76000, Rouen, France

Website: Joan of Arc Tower

11. Musée de la Ceramique - Museum of Ceramics

Table dressée en faïence de Rouen
Source: Photo by user Frédéric BISSON used under CC BY 2.0

A ceramic museum with a wide collection of utensils and artworks made from ceramics, located in the city center. With about five thousand pieces from the past till now, this museum is dedicated to the art of ceramic works and promotion. The building with neoclassical interiors was constructed in the 17th-century. Worth the visit to see some of the impressive works from French artists.

Musée de la Ceramique

Address: 1 Rue Faucon, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: Museum of Ceramics

12. Vieux Rouen

Rouen’s old city centre, with many timbered houses. Paved with cobblestone ground, this place is picturesque and easily accessible, and very good for photo taking and also shopping and relaxing. All the main sights are within reach. It is amazing how most of the buildings here are well preserved and still reflect the past. There are also cafes and restaurants around with shops selling souvenirs and local produce. Sometimes the town events and activities are held here during the weekend, making it a vibrant and lively place to visit.

13. La Galerie Restaurant Rouen

Restaurant French Cuisine
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A nice restaurant featuring local cuisine, highly recommended by locals and tourists. Local cuisine at its best featuring seafood dishes is the main highlight for this restaurant. With a contemporary environment, good service and fine dining setting, its reasonable price is definitely worth a meal. Featuring degustation menu, the restaurant aims to bring the best of French cuisine to your table. The restaurant welcomes guests for meals or just for drinks, and is located in the city centre, making it easy for guests to access. Best to make a reservation as the restaurant is very popular.

La Galerie Restaurant Rouen

Address: 4 Rue Sainte Croix des Pelletiers, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: La Galerie Restaurant Rouen

14. La Petite Auberge - taste of Normandy

Normandy '10- Port-en-Bessin-Huppain (4826326884)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Archangel12 used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

La Petite Auberge is a quaint eatery serving authentic Normandy cuisine. Their seafood stews and their famous escargots are the main signature dishes. The dishes are reasonably priced with good service. Providing both in house and outdoor dining, the impeccable and friendly staff will assist you with your orders and ensure a good meal. The restaurant is small so it gets rather crowded during meal times.

La Petite Auberge

Address: 164 Rue Martainville, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: La Petite Auberge

15. P'tit Gars - local taste great service

Restaurant Cuisine Food French
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A small, quaint restaurant serving common French dishes. Good service and great taste is what this restaurant provides for its guests. Most of the guests are locals and the restaurant atmosphere is cosy and friendly. Exceptional meals with a great price, near to the Rouen Cathedral, P'tit Gars is a must visit.

P'tit Gars

Address: 37 Rue Aux Ours, 76000 Rouen, France

Website: P'tit Gars

Joan of Arc city

Rouen has much more to offer besides the history of Joan of Arc, the quaint streets and majestic cathedrals. Don’t forget the good restaurants serving delicious Normandy cuisine. These excellent places to visit in Rouen will complete your holiday in Northern France!

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Rouen, France

1. What are the best outdoor activities in Rouen?

Rouen is a truly enchanting city. Some of the best outdoor activities you can do are strolling at Jardin des Plantes de Rouen, exploring Old Market Square, and discovering the secrets of Rouen!

2. What are the top attractions to visit in Rouen?

Rouen is a captivating city with a rich culture and a layered past. The top attractions that you must visit are National Museum of Education, Old Market Square, Joan of Arc Tower, and Vieux Rouen.

3. What are the most popular things to do in Rouen with kids and family?

Visiting Rouen is a great introduction to France. Take your family to see the Great Clock Tower, explore the beautiful Jardin des Plantes de Rouen, and visit the National Museum of Education.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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