Rouen (UK: / /,, US: / /,, French: [ʁwɑ̃] (listen) or [ʁuɑ̃]) is a city on the River Seine in northern France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe,[further explanation needed] Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries.
The population of the metropolitan area (French: agglomération) at the 2011 census was 655,013, with the city proper having an estimated population of 111,557. People from Rouen are known as Rouennais.
Rouen and its metropolitan area of 70 suburban communes form the Métropole Rouen Normandie, with 494,382 inhabitants at the 2010 census. In descending order of population, the largest of these suburbs are Sotteville-lès-Rouen, Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Le Grand-Quevilly, Le Petit-Quevilly, and Mont-Saint-Aignan, each with a population exceeding 20,000.
Rouen was founded by the Gaulish tribe of the Veliocasses, who controlled a large area in the lower Seine valley. They called it Ratumacos; the Romans called it Rotomagus. It was considered the second city of Gallia Lugdunensis after Lugdunum (Lyon) itself. Under the reorganization of Diocletian, Rouen was the chief city of the divided province Gallia Lugdunensis II and reached the apogee of its Roman development, with an amphitheatre and thermae of which foundations remain. In the 5th century, it became the seat of a bishopric and later a capital of Merovingian Neustria.
From their first incursion into the lower valley of the Seine in 841, the Normans overran Rouen. From 912, Rouen was the capital of the Duchy of Normandy and residence of the local dukes, until William the Conqueror moved his residence to Caen. In 1150, Rouen received its founding charter which permitted self-government.
During the 12th century, Rouen was the site of a yeshiva known as La Maison Sublime. Discovered in 1976, it is now a museum. At that time, about 6,000 Jews lived in the town, comprising about 20% of the population.
On 24 June 1204 King Philip II Augustus of France entered Rouen and definitively annexed Normandy to the French Kingdom. He demolished the Norman castle and replaced it with his own, the Château Bouvreuil, built on the site of the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre. A textile industry developed based on wool imported from England, for which the cities of Flanders and Brabant were constantly competitors, and finding its market in the Champagne fairs. Rouen also depended for its prosperity on the river traffic of the Seine, on which it enjoyed a monopoly that reached as far upstream as Paris.
In the 14th century urban strife threatened the city: in 1291, the mayor was assassinated and noble residences in the city were pillaged. Philip IV reimposed order and suppressed the city's charter and the lucrative monopoly on river traffic, but he was quite willing to allow the Rouennais to repurchase their old liberties in 1294. In 1306, he decided to expel the Jewish community of Rouen, then numbering some five or six thousand. In 1389, another urban revolt of the underclass occurred, the Harelle. It was suppressed with the withdrawal of Rouen's charter and river-traffic privileges once more.
During the Hundred Years' War, on 19 January 1419, Rouen surrendered to Henry V of England, who annexed Normandy once again to the Plantagenet domains. But Rouen did not go quietly: Alain Blanchard hanged English prisoners from the walls, for which he was summarily executed; Canon and Vicar General of Rouen Robert de Livet became a hero for excommunicating the English king, resulting in de Livet's imprisonment for five years in England. Joan of Arc, who supported a return to French rule, was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431 in this city, where most inhabitants supported the duke of Burgundy, the French king’s enemy. The king of France, Charles VII, recaptured the town in 1449.
Rouen was staunchly Catholic during the French Wars of Religion, and underwent an unsuccessful five-month siege in 1591/2 by Henry IV and an English force commanded by the Earl of Essex. A brief account by an English participant has survived. See 'Memoirs of Robert Carey', (F.H.Mares (ed.), Oxford, 1972), pp. 18-21.
During the German occupation, the Kriegsmarine had its headquarters located in a chateau on what is now the Rouen Business School. The city was heavily damaged during World War II on D-day, and its famed cathedral was almost destroyed by Allied bombs.
Rouen is known for its Rouen Cathedral, with its Tour de Beurre (butter tower) financed by the sale of indulgences for the consumption of butter during Lent. The cathedral's gothic façade (completed in the 16th century) was the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet, some of which are exhibited in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Other famous structures include Rouen Castle, whose keep is known as the tour Jeanne d'Arc, where Joan of Arc was brought in 1431 to be threatened with torture (contrary to popular belief, she was not imprisoned there but in the since destroyed tour de lady Pucelle); the Church of Saint Ouen (12th–15th century); the Palais de Justice, which was once the seat of the Parlement (French court of law) of Normandy; the Gothic Church of St Maclou (15th century); and the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics which contains a splendid collection of faïence and porcelain for which Rouen was renowned during the 16th to 18th centuries. Rouen is also noted for its surviving half-timbered buildings.
There are many museums in Rouen: the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, an art museum with pictures of well-known painters such as Claude Monet and Géricault; the Musée maritime fluvial et portuaire, a museum on the history of the port of Rouen and navigation; Musée des antiquités, an art and history museum with local works from the Bronze Age through the Renaissance, the Musée de la céramique and the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles.
The Jardin des Plantes de Rouen is a notable botanical garden once owned by Scottish banker John Law dated from 1840 in its present form. It was the site of Élisa Garnerin's parachute jump from a balloon in 1817.
In the centre of the Place du Vieux Marché (the site of Joan of Arc's pyre) is the modern church of St Joan of Arc. This is a large, modern structure which dominates the square. The form of the building represents an upturned viking boat and a fish shape.
Rouen was also home to the French Grand Prix, hosting the race at the nearby Rouen-Les-Essarts track sporadically between 1952 and 1968. In 1999 Rouen authorities demolished the grandstands and other remnants of Rouen's racing past. Today, little remains beyond the public roads that formed the circuit.
Rouen has its own palace of Rouen Opera House, whose formal name is Rouen Normandy Opera House – Theatre of Arts (in French: Opéra de Rouen Normandie – Théâtre des arts).
Rouen has an oceanic climate (Cfb in the Koeppen climate classification).
Mainline trains operate from Gare de Rouen-Rive-Droite to Le Havre and Paris, and regional trains to Caen, Dieppe and other local destinations in Normandy. Daily direct trains operate to Amiens and Lille, and direct TGVs (high-speed trains) connect daily with Lyon and Marseille.
City transportation in Rouen consists of a tram and a bus system. The tramway branches into two lines out of a tunnel under the city centre. Rouen is also served by TEOR (Transport Est-Ouest Rouennais) and by buses run in conjunction with the tramway by TCAR (Transports en commun de l'agglomération rouennaise), a subsidiary of Veolia Transport.
Rouen has its own airport, serving major domestic destinations as well as international destinations in Europe.
The Seine is a major axis for maritime cargo links in the Port of Rouen. The Cross-Channel ferry ports of Caen, Le Havre, Dieppe (50 minutes) and Calais, and the Channel Tunnel are within easy driving distance (two and a half hours or less).
The main schools of higher education are the University of Rouen and NEOMA Business School (former École Supérieure de Commerce de Rouen), ésitpa (agronomy and agriculture), both located at nearby Mont-Saint-Aignan, and the INSA Rouen, ESIGELEC and the CESI, both at nearby Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
The main opera company in Rouen is the Opéra de Rouen – Normandie. The company performs in the Théâtre des Arts, 7 rue du Docteur Rambert. The company presents opera, classical and other types of music, both vocal and instrumental, as well as dance performances. Every five years, the city hosts the large maritime exposition, L'Armada.
Rouen was the birthplace of:
- Edward IV (1442–1483), King of England
- Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk (1444-c1503), sister of Edward IV, married John de la Pole, Plantagenet.
- Thomas Aubert (b. 1500s), explorer
- Guillaume Guéroult (1507–1569), poet
- François de Civille (1537–1610), military commander
- Isaac Oliver (1556–1617), French-born English painter
- Guy de la Brosse (1586–1641), botanist and pharmacist
- Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant (1594–1661), poet
- François Raguenet (1660–1722), historian, biographer and musicologist
- Jean-Laurent Le Cerf de La Viéville (1674–1707), musicographer
- Louise Levesque (1703–1745), playwright, poet
- Alphonse Maille (1813–1865) botanist
- Samuel Bochart (1599–1667), Protestant theologian
- Pierre Corneille (1606–1684), tragedian
- Guillaume Couture (1617–1701), lay missionary and diplomat
- Adrien Auzout (1622–1691), astronomer
- Thomas Corneille (1625–1709), dramatist, brother of Pierre Corneille
- Noel Alexandre (1630–1724), theologian and ecclesiastical historian
- Marie Champmeslé (1642–1698), actress
- René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643–1687), explorer
- Gabriel Daniel (1649–1728), Jesuit historian
- Nicolas Lemery (1645–1715), chemist
- Anne Mauduit de Fatouville (17th–1715), playwright
- Jean Jouvenet (1647–1717), painter
- Nicolas Gueudeville (1652–1721), Catholic writer
- Jacques Basnages (1653–1723), Protestant theologian
- Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657–1757), author, nephew of Pierre Corneille
- Pierre Antoine Motteux (1663–1718), French-born English dramatist
- Pierre Dangicourt (1664–1727), mathematician
- François Blouet de Camilly (1664–1723), Catholic Archbishop
- Pierre François le Courayer (1681–1776), theologian
- François d'Agincourt (1684–1758), composer
- Jean II Restout (1692–1768), painter
- Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711–1780), novelist
- Jacques-François Blondel (1705–1774), architect
- Marie-Madeleine Hachard (1708–1760), nun and abbess
- Jacques Duphly (1715–1789), composer
- Pierre-Antoine Guéroult (1749–1816), scholar
- François-Adrien Boïeldieu (1775–1834), composer
- Pierre Louis Dulong (1785–1838), physicist and chemist
- Théodore Géricault (1791–1824), painter
- Armand Carrel (1800–1836), writer
- Pierre Adolphe Chéruel (1809–1891), historian
- Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880), novelist
- Joseph-Henri Altès (1826–1895), flautist and pedagog
- Eugène Ketterer (1831–1870), composer
- Eugène Caron (1834–1903), opera singer
- Maurice Leblanc (1864–1941), novelist
- Charles Nicolle (1866–1936), bacteriologist
- Léon de Saint-Réquier (1872–1964), organist and composer
- Georges Guillain (1876–1961), neurologist
- Robert Antoine Pinchon (1886–1943), painter
- Marcel Dupré (1886–1971), composer
- Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), artist
- Philippe Étancelin (1896–1981), race car driver
- Armand Salacrou (1899–1989), dramatist
- Roger Apéry (1916–1994), mathematician
- Jacques Rivette (1928–2016), film director
- Jean-Yves Lechevallier (b. 1946), sculptor
- Anny Duperey (b. 1947), actress and novelist
- Dominique Lokoli (b. 1952), footballer
- François Hollande (b. 1954), 24th President of the French Republic
- Élise Lucet (b. 1963), journalist
- Stéphan Caron (b. 1966), swimmer
- Karin Viard (b. 1966), actress
- Céline Minard (b.1969), writer
- Christophe Mendy (b. 1971), boxer
- David Trezeguet (b. 1977), footballer
- Nathalie Péchalat (b. 1983), ice dancer
- Ian Mahinmi (b. 1986), basketball player
- Mourad Badra (b.1987), footballer
- Fayçal Fajr (b. 1988), footballer
- Amaury Vassili (b. 1989), singer
- Alexis Gougeard (b. 1993), cyclist
- Pierre Gasly (b. 1996), Formula One driver
Twin towns – Sister cities
Rouen is twinned with:
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, since 1963
- Cleveland, Ohio, United States, since 2008
- Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, since 1992
- Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany, since 1966
- Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, since 1990
- Norwich, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom, since 1959
- Salerno, Salerno, Campania, Italy, since 2002
In fiction and popular culture
Rouen Cathedral is the subject of a series of paintings by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet, who painted the same scene at different times of the day. Two paintings are in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; two are in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow; one is in the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade. The estimated value of one painting is over $40 million.
During the second half of the 20th century, several sculptures by Jean-Yves Lechevallier were erected in the city.
Inaugurated in 2010, the Rouen Impressionnée hosted the contemporary urban (re)development installation sculpture 'Camille' by Belgian artist Arne Quinze. Quinze's use of interlocking systems in sculpture employ wood, concrete, paint and metal. The Quasi-Quinze method of sculpture utilizes structural integrity and randomness as key elements for 'Camille'. Located on the Boieldieu Bridge in the center of Rouen, this intentional location was chosen by the artist to magnify the historical separation of its city's citizens.
- The character Erik, The Opera Ghost of Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera, was supposedly born "in a small town not far from Rouen".
- Rouen plays a major part in the Flaubert novel Madame Bovary.
- Maupassant, a student of Flaubert, wrote a number of short stories based in and around Rouen.
- In book two of The Strongbow Saga, the Vikings invade and conquer Ruda, also known as Rouen, and make it their base in Frankia.
The Rouen area is an integral part of the work of French writer Annie Ernaux.
- May Wedderburn Cannan wrote of Rouen in her 1915 poem on World War I "Rouen".
- Referenced to in Puccini's one-act opera, Il tabarro. In the opera, Luigi asks his boss, the barge owner Michele, to drop him off in Rouen because he is secretly in love with Michele's wife, Giorgetta and cannot stand to share her with him.
- The British rock band Supergrass named their fifth studio album Road to Rouen, punning on an Anglicised pronunciation of the city's name.
- French band Les Dogs formed in Rouen in 1973.
- English rock band Arcane Roots named a song on their EP Left Fire 'Rouen'.
- The 2000 film The Taste of Others was filmed and set in Rouen.
- In the 2001 movie A Knight's Tale, the protagonist William Thatcher (played by Heath Ledger) poses as a noble and competes in his first jousting tournament at Rouen.
- The 1952 film "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" references the memoirs of Harry Street titled "The Road to Rouen" in the scene with Harry and Uncle Bill.
- The game Call of Duty 3 features a map set in Rouen.
- In the Soul Calibur series of fighting games, Raphael, a playable character, is explained as being born in Rouen.
- Rouen appears as an important location to protagonist Alice Elliot in the game Shadow Hearts.
- The Rouen-Les-Essarts Grand Prix circuit is featured in Grand Prix Legends, Project CARS, and RFactor.
- The PC adventure game Touché: The Adventures of the Fifth Musketeer starts in Rouen.
- Evan Bernard, a playable character from Time Crisis 4, is said to come from Rouen.
- Archbishopric of Rouen
- Saint Ouen (catholic saint)
- The works of Maxime Real del Sarte
- Two of the statues on the Pont Boieldieu in Rouen were sculpted by Jean-Marie Baumel
- Official website (in French)
- Rouen Tourist Board (in French)
- Objectif Rouen: Pictures and descriptions of the most famous monuments (in French)
- The Catholic Encyclopedia 1908 detailed ecclesiastical history (in English)
- Rouen, Its History and Monuments, by Théodore Licquet, 1840, from Project Gutenberg (in English)