Rouen, often referred to as the “City of a Hundred Spires,” is a historic gem in Normandy, France. Boasting a rich history, stunning Gothic cathedrals, and the famous Gros Horloge clock tower, Rouen attracts millions of tourists every year. And while the city’s attractions are plentiful, finding the perfect place to stay is crucial to make your visit memorable. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the best hotels in Rouen.
Nestled in a serene setting, this château offers guests a taste of royal living. With intricately designed interiors and a vast expanse of lush gardens, it’s an ideal choice for travelers seeking luxury and tranquility.
Located in the heart of Rouen, this 5-star hotel combines historical architecture with modern amenities. With a spa, indoor pool, and gourmet restaurant, it promises a luxurious stay.
A charming 18th-century residence turned hotel, Le Morand offers cozy rooms with traditional Normandy decor. Its proximity to Rouen’s major attractions makes it a popular choice.
Just a stone’s throw from Rouen’s famous cathedral, this boutique hotel provides guests with a blend of contemporary comfort and historical charm.
Known for its consistent quality, the Ibis in Rouen offers clean rooms and modern amenities at an affordable rate. It’s perfect for budget travelers who don’t want to compromise on comfort.
This budget-friendly option in the heart of Rouen ensures guests are close to all major attractions without breaking the bank.
Experience authentic French hospitality at La Maison. With its homey ambiance and delicious breakfast, it’s a favorite among travelers seeking a more personal touch.
Set in a refurbished historic building, L’Esquisse offers guests a blend of traditional charm and modern amenities. The warm hosts and sumptuous breakfast make for a delightful stay.
Overlooking the Seine, this hotel offers spacious suites with modern design. Its location provides easy access to both the city’s historic center and the beautiful riverbanks.
Another excellent riverside option, the Mercure offers well-appointed rooms and a fitness center, ensuring guests have a comfortable and active stay.
Rouen, with its rich history and beautiful architecture, promises an unforgettable visit. And while the city’s attractions will captivate you, choosing the right hotel can elevate your experience. Whether you’re seeking luxury, charm, budget-friendliness, or a mix of all, Rouen’s diverse range of accommodations has something for every traveler.
Located on the right bank of the Seine, the city center of Rouen includes half of the hotel offer. Located in the historic heart of the city, these hotels allow travelers to take full advantage of monuments such as Notre-Dame cathedral or the courthouse and to get lost in the alleys to discover the rue du Gros Horloge or the old market square. The city center offers the possibility of visiting all of Rouen very easily and of strolling along the quays of the Seine in order to admire the view.
Here the 3 best hotels of Rouen City Centre :
The city also has its own airport, which allows you to reach Corsica in 1h50, as well as Portugal, the Balearic Islands and southern Italy.
This location is also particularly advantageous for the economic fabric of Rouen. Large companies have chosen to set up there, particularly in the logistics sector. The Norman capital is also one of the leading export cities in France, thanks in particular to the oil, food and pharmaceutical sectors, the city's leaders in exports. But life in Rouen is also particularly pleasant. Green lung of the Seine valley, it seduces with its charm, its art of living and its natural beauty. City of art and history since 2002, it will delight culture enthusiasts, but also sports enthusiasts and professionals alike. A city that has it all!
The architectural heritage of Rouen
Rouen has a particularly rich history. Its architectural heritage stems mainly from medieval times. Thus, there are both old housing from the 13th century and new housing! Rouen is one of the most heterogeneous cities in France, whether in terms of buildings or materials: half-timbered, stone, brick, concrete houses...various shapes and colors...The Second World War left scars, and reconstruction works are visible in many places.
Visit Rouen in 1 day: which must-see places?
If you only have one day to visit Rouen, you have to focus on the essentials. Here are the main places to see in Rouen.
1.1 Cathedral of Our Lady of Rouen
Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral is the tallest cathedral in France. It was also the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1876. Today, it is the 3rd tallest cathedral in the world. If you only have to visit one place in Rouen, this place is clearly the Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral. Is it prettier than that of Reims, what do you think?
1.2 Gros-Horloge and Rue du Gros-Horloge
The Gros-Horloge is clearly one of the most emblematic monuments of Rouen. It was built in 1389. The clock is also functional. Rue du Gros-Horloge is the most central street in Rouen. It is pedestrian, like a large part of the city center.
1.3 Place du Vieux-Marché and its cathedral
If you come to visit Rouen in 1 day, you must come and see this place. Here, of course, we find the half-timbered houses, but also the place where Joan of Arc was burned in 1431.
1.4 Place de la Maid
A pretty little square, which is just a few steps from the Place du Vieux-Marché. So, as it is really right next door, you can take the opportunity to take a look at it and get away from the classic tourist route a little bit.
1.5 Palace of Justice
You will not miss it, it is a large building in the heart of Rouen. Although the palace was rebuilt after the Second World War, you can still see traces of shells on its walls. They were left to remember the war, which marked the 20th century so much…
2. Visit Rouen in 2 days
If you go to Rouen and stay there for more than a day, you have time to discover many other places and neighborhoods that are less touristy. And get lost in the alleys of Rouen to make the most of its atmosphere!
2.1 Antiques district, a place to visit in Rouen
I really advise you to get out of the main streets, and go to the eastern part of the city center instead. Here, Rouen is less touristy, but still quite charming. The architecture of the buildings is exceptional: we are immersed in the Middle Ages! Discover the streets behind the Saint-Maclou Catholic Church, rue Damiette, rue Martainville, eu Eau de Robec, but also Passage de la Grande Mesure, rue de Ruissel…
2.2 Saint-Ouen Abbey, a place to see if you come to visit Rouen in 2 days
Another example of Gothic architecture! In order to appreciate the visit even more, we advise you to go behind the Abbey, in the park. In the area, there is also the Saint-Vivien de Rouen Church, the Corneille Chapel and the Benedictine Monastery.
What to do in Rouen: unmissable activities
Whenever someone asks me if it's worth visiting Rouen, I answer with a big YES! This is one of the best day trips from Paris. Whether you're in Paris for a few days and looking to explore a different city, or you live in Paris and are looking for a fun getaway, a day trip to Rouen is a great option. Rouen was built in the meanders of the Seine and was a very important city in Roman times and in the Middle Ages. You can feel history wandering the cobbled streets of Rouen right in the heart of the city. You will see beautiful Norman-style medieval houses and imposing monuments from different eras.
I lived there on and off for about three years when I was a student. The first time I walked around the unique city center, I fell in love in just a few minutes. My family and friends sometimes came to visit me, and I absolutely loved showing them the best places in Rouen.
I only have good news to help you organize your day in Rouen from Paris: you don't actually have much to do. My tips and itinerary below may even be enough.
Rouen is the capital of the Normandy region, 130km north of Paris. It takes less than two hours to get there from Paris by car and an hour and a half on average by train.
Don't feel like driving or taking the train? It is also possible to join a group excursion from Paris*.
Rouen is one of the best day trips by train from Paris. It's perfect to visit Rouen on foot, so it's convenient to take the train from Paris Saint Lazare station directly into Rouen city center (Rouen Rive Droite). You won't be tired from the road and won't have to worry about parking your car.
It is not necessary to book in advance, and I have always managed to find round trips for less than 25€ (and more often around 20€). However, you will surely find better prices by booking online, and you will have access to the express train (Train Nomad) which will take you from Paris to Rouen in just 1h15. It is also often faster to buy tickets online rather than at the station.
The first train from Paris Saint Lazare usually leaves at 5.46am, and the last train from Rouen to Paris is usually at 9.01pm. So you can spend a long day in Rouen. You can see train times and fares on the SNCF website.
Gare Saint Lazare is the second busiest station in Paris. Trains to Rouen are on Level 1. There are 27 platforms, so be sure to arrive early to find your train's departure point.
If you come by car, I advise you to find a place to park your car for the day and then walk. Driving in Rouen is not that easy. There are many narrow streets and one-way streets. It is often faster to walk from place to place. And it is also much better to admire all the beautiful buildings of the old town.
Responsible travel tip: Traveling by train has a lower impact on the environment than driving.
Rouen, attacked again by the Nortmanni in 843, became the capital of the Duchy of Normandy. Rollo, a Viking leader, received from the King of France Charles III, by the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, in 911, a region comparable in size to present-day Upper Normandy.
The Dukes of Normandy often reside in Rouen, except William the Conqueror who prefers to develop Caen as their capital. In the 12th century, Rouen was an important center of commerce, exporting salt and fish to Paris, as well as wine to England. In 1200, Rouen Cathedral was rebuilt following a fire. The construction lasted several centuries.
The King of France Philippe Auguste took the city in 1203 and attached Normandy to the Kingdom of France the following year. He built the castle of Rouen, of which only the keep remains, known as the Tour Jeanne d’Arc.
Rouen merchants shipped wine and wheat to England and imported wool and tin. Textile factories are developing in Rouen and throughout its region: the sheets are resold at the Champagne fairs.
On January 19, 1419, during the Hundred Years War, King Henry V of England took the city of Rouen and attached Normandy to the British crown. It was in this city, capital of English power in the kingdom of France, that Joan of Arc was tried and burned on May 30, 1431. The same year the young Henry VI was crowned King of France and England in Paris, before going to Rouen where he is cheered by the crowd. The King of France took over the city in 1449, after 30 years of English occupation.
The Hundred Years War over, major construction sites resumed in the Norman capital. At the start of the Renaissance, Rouen was the fifth most populated city in the kingdom after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux. The churches are completed in the flamboyant style. The famous sculptor Jean Goujon is credited with the leaves of the Saint-Maclou church.
The city’s economic boom at the end of the 15th century was due to draperies, but also to silk and metallurgy. Fishermen from Rouen go as far as Newfoundland to fish for cod and to the Baltic to fish for herring. The salt is transported from Portugal and Guérande. The sheets are sold in Spain, which now supplies the wool.
The 17th and 18th centuries were a period of prosperity and strong economic development for Rouen, particularly with the textile trade and the development of the river port.
During the Franco-German war of 1870, Rouen was occupied by the Prussian army. During the First World War, it served as a base for the British army.
The city is occupied by the German army during the Second World War. In 1944, it was subjected to violent Allied bombardments aimed in particular at the bridges over the Seine and the marshalling yard of Sotteville-lès-Rouen. The cathedral, the Palace of Justice were severely affected. Then, during the American bombardment of “Red Week”, from May 30 to June 5, 1944, the whole cathedral district was once again engulfed in flames. After the war, the city center was rebuilt according to a large urban plan but the Rouen courthouse still bears the traces of its bombardments with holes in the walls.
The huge towers of the cathedral, very ornate, above the facade and the transept, announce the city from afar. They are visible from the river as well as from the surrounding hills.
The north tower, 77m high, is the Saint-Romain tower, named after a 7th century archbishop of Rouen who, according to legend, defeated the “gargoyle”, a dragon living in the swamps of the Seine. It is in the primitive Gothic style of the 12th century for the first floors and in the Flamboyant Gothic style for the last, crowned with its famous “axe roof”.
The south tower is the Beurre tower, a flamboyant Gothic masterpiece which particularly inspired Claude Monet.
The third tower is the “lantern tower”, at the crossroads of the transept, surmounted by a cast iron spire which culminates at 151 m.
The facade is very richly decorated with 70 figures, sculpted between 1362 and 1421.
We share with you the 8 reasons to come and visit Rouen’s Cathedral which is a must if you come to Rouen or Normandy.