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John Sergeant and wife Mary celebrate 55th anniversary in Rouen, France

Rouen, France is a hidden gem with rich history, great food, stunning architecture, and Impressionist art. A must-visit destination.

Rouen, once considered a mere stopover on the way to the south of France, turned out to be a charming and fascinating city. My initial visit to the city was marred by an unfortunate incident involving 'smile checks' that soured my impression of Rouen. However, my recent visit in January was a pleasant surprise, with mild weather, open restaurants, and a bustling tourist scene.

To celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary, my wife Mary and I decided to take the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, just like we did on our honeymoon. The four-hour journey, despite strong winds, did not dampen our spirits. Upon arrival in Rouen, a friendly taxi driver swiftly took us to our hotel, the historic Hotel De Bourgtheroulde, which had been beautifully restored after being damaged in World War II.

Exploring the old market square, we found ourselves transported back to medieval times, surrounded by narrow, winding streets and half-timbered houses. The city's rich history became evident when we dined on a street named after William the Conqueror, who died in Rouen. We also learned that Joan of Arc was executed by the English forces in the same square. However, we didn't let history ruin our dining experience, as Rouen is known for its exceptional cuisine.

As avid enthusiasts of local dishes, we indulged in steak tartare, kidneys in mustard sauce, escargots in cream sauce, and garlic butter. Our love for architecture and art led us to the Gothic masterpiece of Rouen Cathedral, as well as the Musee des Beaux Arts, which houses a remarkable collection of Impressionist paintings.

Walking along the Seine River, we couldn't help but marvel at the city's historical significance as the last deep port before Paris. The city's great sailing ships and the Armada festival added to its allure. As we departed, we couldn't help but reflect on our memorable visit to Rouen, a city that had surpassed our expectations and left a lasting impression.

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