Going up the Seine to Rouen September 18-29, 2016


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Europe » France » Upper Normandy » Rouen
September 29th 2016
Published: October 21st 2016
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View of the Left & Right Banks Leaving the LockView of the Left & Right Banks Leaving the LockView of the Left & Right Banks Leaving the Lock

at Rouen & then... going aground with another boat
Our travel from Honfleur to Rouen started out a little “rough” as we cast off our lines at 8:20AM to make the opening of the lock into the Seine at 8:30AM. We locked through with one other sailboat at 8:49AM. They were the first out of the lock and we were following when we saw that they went aground. We quickly changed direction, but we went aground as well! We knew that the recommendation was to lock through at one or two hours after low water, but we had heard from others that it was possible at low water so we tried it, but got “caught”. Fortunately we were able to get off by 9:04AM and on our way with a speed of 6.6 knots with the help of the current. On this section of the river we were helped by the current quite a bit and even got to a high of 10 knots – not bad for a sailboat and that is without any help from sails!

This section of the Seine is a mixture of mud flats, numerous chalk cliffs, a few villages, wooded areas, huge mansions and thatch roofed homes. We met a few freighters, but not too many and even though there should have been quite a few ferries crossing the river many were not working as it was a Sunday. All in all an uneventful trip (except of course our going aground) arriving in Rouen at the marina by 4:30PM. It was great as we were met at the dock by friends, Sally and Al from Artemis who we last saw in London in the winter of 2013/14 and our new friends, Ann and Jean-Paul that we had met recently in Honfleur.

One of the main tasks at hand now that we were in Rouen was to get the boat ready to take down the mast. This is necessary as we need this removed to fit under the numerous bridges that we will encounter on our journey up the Seine to Paris as well as next season when we continue through the French canals. We had not removed the mast on Tsamaya since 2010 when we first left on our travels. It will be good to have a chance to inspect the mast more thoroughly and replace instruments at the top of the mast while it is down. An extra tasks necessary due to the height of the bridges is the removal of our wind generators on the stern of the boat. We have known this would be needed and Bob has plans on how to accomplish this in a way that it will not be too difficult to replace them when we get to the Med. They are not currently set up for easy removal so Bob got his handy sawsall out and cut through the pipes connecting them to our arch. With modifications Bob will make it will make it easier to do this again if it ever becomes necessary. One more job for the list! We believe the journey through the canals will definitely make the work worth it.

The marina in Rouen is not located right in town, but is easy enough to get to by bicycle. We didn’t even attempt to visit the town until we had completed the critical job of removal and storage of the mast – after that we figured we could then start our exploration of the area. Until then the only places we did go were to the grocery store and the DIY store which were conveniently located closer to the marina. Even though going to a DIY store means “work” I could tell Bob definitely felt right at home in a store that seemed all too familiar to us both.

Fortunately the removal of the mast went very well with the only glitch being the removal of one of our spreaders on the mast, but with suggestions from others and the use of numerous tools it was removed and we were then able to “wrap up” the mast and get it stored into the building that will house it until we request that it be shipped to the Med when we need it. After having gone though the Erie Canal with an extra 10’ of mast at the bow and 10’ over the stern we vowed we would never do locks like a battling ram again so being able to store the mast in Rouen sounded like a great idea to us. As Rouen is known for being a good place to remove as well as put up masts it is a common place for sailboat to stop after traveling through the canals. We were able to gain some helpful knowledge from others that had traveled through as well as
Didn't Expect to See Lighthouses But It Makes SenseDidn't Expect to See Lighthouses But It Makes SenseDidn't Expect to See Lighthouses But It Makes Sense

with the fog and the traffic on the river
receive a few gifts that will help on our journey such as guidebooks and fenders.

Our friends Ann and Jean-Paul had kindly offered to take us to get a new propane bottle for our stove – what a big help that was especially with the size of the tank (and of course with French and knowing what store to go to). They drove us around some to get us a little familiar with the town. This was a help when we took our bicycles in to explore on our own.

If you don’t remember the details of the history of Joan of Arc you soon find out when you are in Rouen. Rouen had been under English domination since 1419 and was where Joan of Arc was put on trial in 1431 and burnt at the stake. It was also where the 2nd posthumous trial was held in 1456 which exonerated her. We learned this and more at the well documented Joan of Arc museum. The history is told to you through a multi-media presentation with various documentations available for view near the end. It is housed in the Archbishop Palace and takes you through the life and death of Joan of Arc. To try to give a short synopsis of what happened you must remember that the Hundred Years War (which was over 100 years long from 1337-1453) was a fight between France and England over the succession rights to the French throne. England felt that they had control of this area, but the French still saw the English as invaders who needed to be fought. Joan, born in 1412, stated that in 1424 she started to hear voices that told her to help the son of Charles VI regain his right to the throne. Joan of Arc in the matter of one year of fighting contributed immensely to the French final victory. She liberated the city of Orleans in 1429 which was under siege by the English and soon after Charles VII was crowned King and became the legitimate monarch of France. Joan then tried to retake Paris, but was not successful. She was taken prisoner by the Burgundians, allies to the English. She was sold to the English and brought to Rouen for trial. She was charged by the Church as a heretic, but was held in a civil prison guarded by English guards. Joan denied the charges, but she was found guilty of heresy, blasphemy and schism. A few months later she was charged with relapsed heresy, this time by an ecclesiastical court and was sentenced to death by burning at the stake. This was carried out here in Rouen at the Market Square for all to see.

Years later when Charles VIII liberated Rouen in 1449 he wanted the trial of Joan of Arc re-examined. The reason for this was the fact that he did not want others to think that he owed his crown to a heretic. Fortunately the first trial in 1431 was well documented and is known to be the first French political trial to have written proceedings. This trial in1456 was held in the Archbishop’s Palace. With the help of the documents from the first trial and the interviews of numerous people, it was determined that Joan of Arc should be exonerated posthumously. The judges also proclaimed that a cross needed to be erected on the site of Joan’s suffering. In 1920 Joan of Arc was canonized.

Near the end of the exhibit in the museum they show how Joan of Arc and her actions have been
White Chalk Cliffs, Plenty of Current in the RiverWhite Chalk Cliffs, Plenty of Current in the RiverWhite Chalk Cliffs, Plenty of Current in the River

freighters being loaded and stone bridges on the way
used in many ways - by the military for recruiting during WWI, for the selling of numerous products and even referred to in speeches by General De Gaulle. Even Nazi Germany used her in posters while Hollywood has made numerous films about her. The presentations were well done and with excellent documentation provided the details of how this woman was able to accomplish so much for France.

Even though the site of the burning of Joan of Arc is marked by a sign and cross, the site is also the location of a very modern church that was quite beautiful inside and was very welcoming. The shape of the roof is said to represent the flames at the stake. The stained glass windows that you can see inside had been installed from a former church dating from the Renaissance. This is a church but also serves as the civil memorial to honor St. Joan of Arc every May.

The irony is that the Joan of Arc Museum is housed in the Archbishop Palace, the site of the sentencing of death by burning. The Palace itself is still occupied by the Archbishop, but a small portion of the building houses the museum and the inner chapel was open for viewing. It is hard to give an idea of the size of this Palace as it adjoins the Cathedral and runs the whole length of a narrow street.

Sorry for the long history lesson on Joan of Arc, but we found it quite fascinating to learn the background of this young person and what she accomplished for France.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rouen is in the heart of the city. Construction started in the 12th century on the foundations of a 4th C. basilica and a 11th C. Romanesque edifice. Over the centuries it has seen much destruction, most recently by allied bomb attacks in WWII. This has resulted in numerous modifications over the years and it now has a 19th century cast iron spire that is 495 feet tall (the highest in France). It is very impressive due to its central location in the town.

While in the Joan of Arc museum looking out the window we could see the Abbey of Saint-Ouen so decided to wander over to visit. It seemed to be tucked in to a smaller courtyard, but we found it more impressive in some ways than the Notre-Dame Cathedral as it was empty of pews and made a more powerful statement of its size. The edifice is 137 meters (449’) long and it is 33 meters (108’) up to the vaulted ceiling. It had been the church of the Saint-Ouen Abbey, one of the most powerful Benedictine monasteries in Normandy between the 14th & 15th centuries. It has 80 stained glass windows which filter in the sunshine to this magnificent structure making much more of a statement when you enter.

While walking around Rouen we came across another church, Saint-Maclou. As described in the brochures, it is one of the most beautiful examples of what is called the “flamboyant” Gothic style, however, its magnificent sculptured doors is from the Renaissance period. Shortly after leaving the church we saw people coming out of an alleyway and were told “you need to go in” so of course we did. We found out that it was in fact the entrance to the Aitre Saint-Maclou which appears as a beautiful central courtyard. In reading the documents telling of its history we found out that it in fact was a cemetery in the Middle Ages. It
Finally Got a Photo of the Irises Planted on the RoofsFinally Got a Photo of the Irises Planted on the RoofsFinally Got a Photo of the Irises Planted on the Roofs

and a couple of other scenes along the way
is one of the last medieval necropolises in Europe remaining. It originated during the time of the Black Plague of 1348 and was located in the center of the largest parish in Rouen, that of Saint-Maclou. When a second plague hit in 1521-1522 the cemetery needed to be expanded so the parish built three wings around the yard with attics to function as an ossuary (a building where human bones are kept) Work on these buildings started in 1526 but were not completed until about 1531. In looking closely at the buildings you can see many of the symbols of death – gravediggers tools, coffins and various bones obviously from hips, legs and of course the most common one seen in relation to death – the skull. With the epidemics that occurred during this time funeral procedures had to be changed. Corpses were wrapped in shrouds and piled into pits in the center of the yard. Once the ossuary was completed the gravediggers took the bones and placed them in the attic between the roof and ceiling. In the 17th century a building was constructed on the 4th side of the cemetery to be used a school run by the
A Popular Route Along the Seine A Popular Route Along the Seine A Popular Route Along the Seine

we used it regularly from the marina to town
church for poor boys. In the 18th century the Christian Brothers took over the school which continued until 1907. The area then was used for a number of purposes – cotton spinning mill and a gun manufacturer. A royal decree by Parliament in 1779 demanded the closure of all graveyards within the center of the city and this resulted in this cemetery closing in 1781. In 1862 these buildings and area were put on the list of historic monuments to recognize its significance. The Christian Brothers closed the boy’s school in 1911 when it was then turned over to being a boarding girl’s school. When that school closed the area was left and went into disrepair. The City of Rouen purchased the property in 1927 with the intention of starting a museum here. Renovations started in 1930, but the buildings were not actually used until 1940 when the School of Fine Arts started offering classes here. To this day this school is still located here and has a gallery providing a place to display their work as well as that of guest artist. We found this quite a peaceful place to stumble into with quite a varied history over the centuries.

Our friends Ann and Jean-Paul were kind enough to invite us to dinner at their home one evening. They had told us they lived near Rouen, but until we took the drive with them we didn’t realize that it was farther than we thought – we really appreciate how much they went out of their way to come to the marina to pick us up and then of course return us there at the end of the evening. On the way to their house Jean-Paul stopped at a viewing point high on the hill behind Rouen so we could take in the city from on high. The city is spread out along the Seine and we could see clearly the Cathedral with its high spire, the industrial area which is located closer to the marina we are staying at and a glance of the Seine that we will be traveling on when we leave this area. He also kindly stopped at a DYI store for us as we were looking for a regulator for the new propane tank that we had recently gotten. Those that have cruised in other countries understand that it is necessary to get new regulators in each country as they are all different! It sure would be nice if there was a standard connection for propane bottles, but this is not the case and always necessitates a search in each country. Fortunately the store Jean-Paul took us to had one so another mission accomplished. We had a lovely evening at Jean-Paul and Ann’s home starting with lovely appetizers and a glass of champagne to a dinner of raclette served with ham, vegetables and a variety of cheeses. I had asked Ann earlier about various French cheeses as we are trying to learn about the various offerings we see at the markets and she picked up on the fact that we like cheese so made a dinner to introduce us to more. The dinner was topped off with fresh raspberries from their own garden – what a treat! We enjoy their company and hope that we continue to see them as we continue our travels. One thing we had to really laugh at was when we were asking how to say different words in French – they were letting us know how to order a carafe of water at a restaurant as beverages are quite
This Group Was Having Lots of Fun PlayingThis Group Was Having Lots of Fun PlayingThis Group Was Having Lots of Fun Playing

and the crowd was enjoying it as well
expensive and add quite a bit to your bill. When Bob was clarifying how to say ‘water’ correctly, Jean-Paul quickly chimed in that the French call it ‘wine’!! We like his type of water for sure and his sense of humor.

One thing that I had failed to mention in the previous blog entry from Honfleur was the fact that Ann helped us immensely in working on the ordering of a new battery for the boat. The saga of our batteries continues in that we needed to purchase a battery that was the correct size to work with the other 2 new ones that we had purchased. With Ann’s fluent language skills in both English and French she offered to make calls while in Honfleur on our behalf to place an order for the correct battery so that it would be ready for pick up and installation when we arrived in Rouen. This indeed worked out very well and the battery was delivered and installed. Success – now we have a 270 Ah battery on deck that we need to try to get rid of – any of you interested??? We of course checked here at the marina as
Joan of Arc Shows Up on Posters for numerous PurposesJoan of Arc Shows Up on Posters for numerous PurposesJoan of Arc Shows Up on Posters for numerous Purposes

and even for selling biscuits and matches
well as at the place we are storing the mast, but didn’t have any takers. For now it will be our “hood ornament” as we will try later to find a buyer for it.

We had originally hoped to be in Rouen only a few days after completing the removal and storage of our mast, but we started to have problems with our refrigeration. We had problems early this season when we were in the Netherlands and thought we had it fixed with the ordering of a drier for the freezer which Bob had installed. It appeared to have been working for some time, but Bob had been noticing recently that the freezer wasn’t keeping temperature and was running longer than normal. In thinking it over of where we were headed we decided that Rouen may be a better place to deal with the refrigeration problem than in the middle of Paris. Ann and Jean-Paul were leaving on vacation and we definitely did not want to disturb them, but did ask if they knew of anyone that did that kind of work. They didn’t so we did searches ourselves and then the marina staff came to the rescue for us. We had made plans to leave on Tuesday but when the call was made we found out that they could come to the boat on Thursday morning. We decided it was worth a few more days here to get this sorted out. As there is plenty to do and see in Rouen we figured it was not a real hardship. Thursday morning came and went, then the afternoon came and went. Now what do we do? Fortunately for us one of the staff members at the marina heard of our problem when we stopped by to pick up our daily load of ice from them. She got on the phone and let them know that they needed to come and fulfill their promise. It was agreed they would come on Friday morning at 8:30. Whatever she said definitely worked as they showed up on time with an apology for not being there on Thursday. Fortunately it was quite an easy fix as they needed to fill the system up with refrigerant. Of course we are still concerned about why it was losing refrigerant, but for now it meant we could be on our way.



At 11:37
Bob Said I Had to Take a Photo - WonderedBob Said I Had to Take a Photo - WonderedBob Said I Had to Take a Photo - Wondered

if the pillow was for anyone that fell in the hole?
AM that same day we left the dock at Rouen and headed up the Seine toward our goal for this year – Paris. It will take us a few days to get there but it is getting closer and closer!


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