Thursday, November 19, 2009

monday: rouen

i left caen and arrived in rouen by train about noon. my couchsurfers here were a couple about thirty; claire works in paris (4 hour commute, every day!) and juri was working in the car industry. i learned that every french person is guranteed 1 year full salary after being laid off, and then a second year of half salary, by the government, no exceptions. since juri has a lot of time on his hands, he showed me around the old city a couple hours.
vieux rouen is lovely and large, with great shopping and eating at prices a little lower than other places in normandy and le mans also. i saw the place where jeanne (joan for english speakers) d'arc was burnt on the stake, pretty much the same age as me. in 19 years, she went from small town farm girl to military commander kicking the english out of french land to being captured and killed by them as a heretic (the catholic church later said "my bad," pardonned her, and she became a saint). in the last couple decades, a super modern church was built and dedicated to her; weird looking, kinda ugly kinda cool. rouen is named "the city of 100 spires," and monet actually has a series of paintings of some of its cathedrals. i visited notre dame, which is the tallest in either france or europe, and then two others just as lovely.
i saw a place used in medieval times during the plague: people sick with it were housed in this specific hospital for the dying, in the middle of its courtyards people could watch corpses being burned to prevent "la peste" from spreading. if that wasn't morbid enough, skulls and bones are carved into the wooden sides of the building, which is now used as a fine arts academy.
i hit up the fine arts museum and a ceramics museum (this type of art is apaprently world renown in the city). the wrought iron museum, housed inside an ancient tower, sounded lame to me but was really cool! i saw the tower where jeanne was kept hostage during her couple months-long sham trial.
then i spent the evening with the couple and their cat sushi, eating dinner (again, free, yummy, complete guest) and watching "les bronzes font du ski." it's a cult classic comedy from the 70's, with the same beegee's song playing in the background the entire time; it was entertaining and funny, and i understood without any subtitles or language dubbing!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome that you have come so far on your French language skills! I'm very impressed (and utterly jealous at the same time!) haha!

    Love your story telling of jeanne d'arc -- I'm imagining how great of a story teller you will be to your future children. ;) Lol!

    fantastic that you've had such amazing hosts! Praise the Lord for that!