Wednesday 3 October 2012

Paris by night?

What? Did we abandon ship and continue by train…?
Far from it. But as soon as we make fast in Rouen this afternoon we are actually around the corner from France's capital, the city of Lovers. Only we cannot travel further up the river Seine, low bridges and the forces of the tide here, in the Normandy, where we have some of the strongest tidal differences on the planet, creating midlands here and salt marshes there. So the scent of ocean and meadows mix up with the smell of cows and forests and fields. A rural scene with a marine touch to it. Already in the morning it is warm enough to go out in only a shirt. Well, almost, the winds carry a slight chill; let's not be fooled by the sun, this is the autumn voyage.
Little by little the charming landscape makes way for industrial complexes; mainly reloading sites for grain, covering the surroundings with a fine layer of cereal dust.
After half a day of surfing the tidal wave toward Rouen (it really reaches that far), we arrive at the pier even a bit early. So there is time to choose the right clothing for the excursions that start a little later, one to the scenic little pirate-and-cider town of Honfleur - and the other to Paris! From that trip you will hear by tomorrow, as it comes back only in the night. Sure you will get an enthusiastic report.
But why not take a simple stroll? Speaking of enthusiasm, the walk through the narrow alleys and along the numerous huge cathedrals and churches of Rouen will not fail to enchant you, the houses with their intricate woodworks are so charmingly bent by age that they have almost personality, you can imagine them exchanging gossip when nobody's looking. The ecclesiastical architecture is a stark contrast to this, gargantuan towers loom over squares and backstreets, high walls are witnesses to the unrivalled power of the church during the long period of the (un)holy inquisition. But these times are over, today the old town centre is a wonderful collection of excellent art, antiques and handicraft shops. From handmade soap to ancient tools to violins, made like in old times - here you will find it. And every corner without a store features a café or a brasserie. You want to spent days here!
Well, at least we have one overnight, so time aplenty!