Local traditions and culture in Rouen

  • the beach by the Seine river looking at old Rouen
    the beach by the Seine river looking at...
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  • the beach on the seine river to new Rouen
    the beach on the seine river to new...
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  • A large fountain with magnificent statues around
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Most Viewed Local Customs in Rouen

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    Joan of Arc

    by sue_stone Written Jul 31, 2006

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    Most people have heard of Joan of Arc. Even me, who is useless with historical events knew who she was. Nowhere in France is Joan of Arc more honoured than in Rouen. It is here that she was very publicly burnt to death on a stake in the middle of the main square.

    Joan was born in the village of Domremyin 1412, during the 100 years war, when France was being governed by an English king. At the age of 12 she started to receive visions from three saints, telling her that she was the one that had to save France, and return the throne to a French king.

    When she was 17, she approached the man who was to eventually become king, telling him her story and by some sort of miracle he believed her and gave her command of the French Army!

    She led 4000 or so men to attack the English and over throw the throne. With a French king in place, Joan was so pleased that she wanted to defeat more and more of the English and this led to her capture.

    The English took her to Rouen as they had a stronghold on the city, and she was tried for several wrong doings, the most serious one being heresy, based on her communication with God directly, rather than through the church.

    She was found guilty, and on 30 May 1431, at the age of 19, she was tied to a stake and burned alive.

    Joan of Arc is remembered throughout Rouen as a heroine and an important part of France's history.

    the cross marking the place of her death
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    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, now for fine arts

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    Once you enter the "Aître Saint Maclou", you find a large and peaceful square, surrounded by two levels old half-timbered houses that host now the School for fine arts. The students in fine arts are living there and are working there. They are really lucky as it is so peaceful.

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    Entrance to Aître Saint-Maclou

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    A small sign read "Aître Saint Maclou" and an arrow lead under a dark wooden passage. If you know nothing about the Aître Saint Maclou, this does not call you strongly for a visit. Then, I must show you what it is about. The entrance into the Aître Saint Maclou is at the bottom of the passage, where on the picture you see a beam of sun.

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, Aître, what is that ?

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    An aître, from the Latin atrium, was in the Middle ages a charnel, not a cemetery, but a place where the bodies of the plague victims were temporarily kept, awaiting for them to be buried. These places were very common in Europe in the Middle Ages but the "Aître Saint Maclou" is one of the few that has been kept until nowadays.

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, a charnel !

    by JLBG Updated Nov 8, 2004

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    That means that Aîtres, such as Aître Saint Maclou were the kingdom of gravediggers. Gravediggers, as any other professionals love what they are doing and as any other professional, they carve it everywhere so that everybody knows what it is all about !

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, what to show ?

    by JLBG Updated Nov 8, 2004

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    What they might show ? Well that is very easy, what are the tools that they use ? The most important are the shovel and the pickaxe. If you click to enlarge this picture and some of the previous and of the following ones, you will see plenty of shovels and pickaxes. There does not seem to be any ice axes, which were used much later in Hollywood.

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, showing what ?

    by JLBG Updated Nov 8, 2004

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    If you were to show out your job, you would certainly first think to show the tools you are using. The butcher shows his knife, the tailor his needle, the restaurant its forks, the wore … nothing (please don't consider, not a good example), then, what would the gravediggers might show !

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    Aître Saint-Maclou : what are you working upon ?

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    But would you feel that showing the tools you are using will be enough to represent your job ? I bet no, and that you will certainly be tempted to show on what you are working. Hu, hu "on what you are working" !!?? Actually, why not… The only thing is that you have to fit it with wood carving capabilities and to the space remaining free for carving !

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    Aître Saint-Maclou ...

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    Then go back to the previous pictures, enlarge them and you will see, skulls, jaws, rib bones, collarbones, humerus, radius, cubitus, femurs, etc… Is there anything missing to build a whole skeleton ? By the way, guess why dogs are not allowed to enter the "Aître Saint Maclou". Those who will find the correct answer will be rewarded a T-bone.

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    The joiners workshop

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    Amazingly, after you have toured the Aître Saint Maclou, when you go out, through a little, half covered passage, you find again a beam, of sun, your leader ! Would it be possible hat this the very shop where were carved all these figures ? It is impossible to say but this joiners workshop is in perfect condition, till working (and I suppose, fulfilling the laws about security at work !)

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, a capital

    by JLBG Updated Dec 23, 2004

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    The columns of "Aître Saint Maclou" are topped with capitals. Most of them are in poor condition but it is not always s easy to guess what they represent, even if they are in relatively good condition, such as this one. I have tried to figure out what this guy (girl ?) was doing among gravediggers but without any success…???

    Nettie (Tapis_Volant) suggests that it might be an angel. This is not an usual position for an angel representation but looking carefully, it (grammatically speaking is it "it" for an angel ?) seems to have vestigial wings (as Drosophilae in heredity experiments, haha !) that are so small that at first I had not noticed them. I will try to find more clues but thank you Nettie for that idea !

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    Leaving Aître Saint-Maclou

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    At first, "Aître Saint Maclou" looked avery peaceful and quiet place. As a matter of fact, it IS a quiet and peaceful, it is the calm of Death. If this kind of place gives you the shivers, then don't visit. Otherwise, this is a great place, untouristy and really worth the visit.

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    Barrel organ

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    Barrel organs were very popular in France until the middle of the 50th century. They gave music out of a cardboard card with holes that flow a specific instrument to blow. Modern way of broadcasting music have pushed barrel organs into the past but, there are sometimes a few individuals that it feels it will be possible to come back nest year.

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    Country ? Country !

    by JLBG Updated Oct 10, 2004

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    When we were having dinner at the Restaurant "les Maraîchers", this guy arrived and began to sing Country and among them, a Johnny Cash. We assumed he was American and asked him in English if he could sing another one, which he did.

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    Aître Saint-Maclou, dancers

    by JLBG Updated Nov 8, 2004

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    On this column, another capital. It is in relatively good condition, and I have tried to figure out what this dancers were doing among gravediggers but without any success neither…??? Witches dancing at night among the graves ??

    Related to:
    • Architecture

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