Chartres or Rouen?

Jun 15th, 2004, 04:29 AM
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Chartres or Rouen?

I am thinking of a day trip from Paris in July , and wanted to know where to go.Both cities sound wonderful. Any recommendations?
ago is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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no advice on which as Ihave only been to Chartres,which was lovely!
nanb is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 06:50 AM
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Overall there are more things to see in Rouen -- more churches, more old houses, more museums etc. as it is a city. On the other hand there is only one Chartres and the old lower town near the river is worth a wander also. BOTH are worth it. But if you only have time one and want to see the best make it Chartres.
sfowler is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 09:27 AM
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Just returened last week and we went to both. Rouen needs more time so make it Chartres.
tmh is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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I find it a bit simplistic to call one BEST over the other, as such a judgment is entirely dependent on individual preference.
However, I will dig my heels down in favour of Rouen, especially since it hasn't had a vote yet on this post.

I do think the Chartres cathedral is beautiful, but for myself, I much preferred the whole look of a small French town, with museums, narrow streets, parks, etc., in favour of doing a day trip just to see one prominent landmark.

The last time I was in Paris it was my only day trip out and I was so glad I did it.
It's got a very Normandy/Belgian/Germanic look to some of the architecture and even the houses and layout were quite different than Paris.
The things I loved about Rouen:
1. quite close, only a bit over an hour or so on the train
2. the smell of dusty wooden planks and the feel of cold stone as I went up the Joan of Arc tower (where she was kept the last few days of her life)
3. the pastry shops in the old city core, and sitting on a rock in the sun, facing the square where there now stands a statue of Joan
4. finally visiting the Rouen cathedral, which features prominently in a number of Monet paintings (it really did look familiar)
5. enjoying the quiet away from Paris. I did not find it as busy a travel destination as Chartres and Versailles
6. Many of the other historical landmarks
7. visiting the Rouen museum, which, although I went late in the day and was the ONLY visitor (!!), held a few treasures and I enjoyed them all the more in the silence of the empty halls

Anyhow, just my two cents in favour of Rouen. But have a great trip and go for what feels right
isabela is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 11:07 AM
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Chartres would be our #1 if you could only spend one day because of its cathedral. It's a small town, and you can do it all on foot without exhausting yourself, even if it's rainy. Be sure to take the lecture/tour of the cathedral if that wonderful man (my mind has let his name slip...I am getting on) is giving the lecture. He's British, so there's no language problem.

Rouen, unlike Chartres, suffered enormous damage during World War II, and so what you see -- including its main churches -- are largely reconstructions. The old town area around its Grande Orloge (Big Clock) is wonderful, but the spot where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake is all reconstructed. You can see photos taken after the Liberation and those same spots taken recently after the reconstruction. The place must have been nearly a total mess.
USNR is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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one other thing - ROuen is not as large as you'd think it is - ten minutes from the train station and I was in the city core.
It's doable in as little as two hours or less, depending on what places you wish to visit, so I don't think it's size is an issue.

Again, I am not putting down Chartres but I feel Rouen is just about never getting its just deserts.

There are quite a few things that are still originals, and the Joan of Arc tower is one of them (the surrounding area was damaged, but the tower is original)
isabela is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 05:28 PM
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I've been to both and the Chartres Cathedral was lovely, especially if you take Malcolm Miller's tour (makes a big difference and take binoculars for very close up views of the window stories). However, Rouen makes a great day trip - it was my favorite. There are several cathedrals/churches, a very nice old town and just wandering around was great with several interesting museums. I used Steinbicker's Day Trips France walking guide for this city - excellent. I have a trip report of my day in Rouen if you would like to see it - just e-mail me at [email protected].

nancy is offline  

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