Capital of Normandy, Rouen elegantly mixes modernity and history. Victor Hugo named it "city of 100 steeples" in reference to its large number of religious buildings, of different styles and eras. Recognized worldwide for its medieval heritage, the city will also surprise you with the diversity and richness of its museums, its streets, and its squares. Impossible to visit Rouen without going through the Saint-Ouen abbey church, the Museum of Fine Arts, the docks of the Seine or even the Gros-Horloge, a must-see monument that houses the city's bells. Notre Dame Cathedral, a jewel of Gothic art, painted many times by Claude Monet at the end of the 19th century, impresses with its spire, which rises to 151m high. Its choir houses the tombs of the Dukes of Normandy and the heart of the King of England, Richard the Lionheart. The discovery of the city continues through the historic district which has no less than 2000 half-timbered houses and the district of Antiquaries, and its astonishing aître Saint-Maclou.
The port city of Le Havre, founded in 1517 by François Ier, occupies a strategic location on the Seine estuary. Everywhere in this city open to the sea, you can breathe the sea air. Water, sky, light ... This is what attracted painters to Le Havre, and especially Claude Monet who painted his famous Impression, rising sun in 1872: the masterpiece that gave birth to the Impressionism. The Malraux museum also has the most beautiful impressionist collection in France after the Orsay museum in Paris. Le Havre is also an extraordinary city, 85% destroyed during the bombing of 1944 and rebuilt under the leadership of a visionary architect: Auguste Perret who gave concrete its letters of nobility. His internationally recognized work was listed in 2005 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This architectural impulse, continued by the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer (The Volcano) and Jean Nouvel (Bains des Docks) makes Le Havre a spectacular laboratory for contemporary architecture.
Caen became a strategic city in the Middle Ages, under the leadership of William the Conqueror. This glorious past remains today, in the heart of the city, a huge castle and two superb abbeys. From the top of the ramparts of the castle, the panorama of the city, the marina, and the Saint-Pierre church is magnificent. The Normandy Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, both located within the castle grounds, are worth a detour. The Abbaye-aux-Hommes and the Abbaye-aux-Dames, founded by William the Conqueror and his wife, Mathilda of Flanders, are among the most remarkable monuments of Caen. Between these monuments stretches the historic center, its medieval streets, its dormant cemeteries, the Saint-Sauveur square lined with superb private mansions. Places not to be missed! A little further from the city center is the Memorial, a museum that traces the history of the Second World War and also pays a vibrant tribute to peace.