I had booked an Ibis Budget Hotel in Rouen for my final stop in France and arrived in late afternoon on what must have been one of the hottest days so far.
I always have a look at Google Street View before I set off just so that I have a rough idea of what my destination looks like. Unfortunately the area around the hotel was undergoing massive redevelopment and there was construction and road works everywhere. I could see the hotel on the opposite side of the road but it wasn’t immediately apparent how I was going to get there. After passing three or four times I could see that it would be possible to enter the car park by crossing a bit of the road construction and this being my only choice, I went for it. I arrived at the reception door with my bags and guitar only to discover that it was one of those unmanned self-entry things and I would need my booking reference to get in. By this time I was getting a wee bit tetchy and just as I was looking up the document on my phone, it rang and it was one of those “I understand you’ve had an accident…” calls. Unfortunately, the caller got the full force of my tetchiness as I ranted down the phone at them, the locals must have wondered what was up. I eventually got in and found my room – basic but fine for a couple of days. I decided to wait a couple of hours for the temperature to cool down before I went out to look for a place to for my tea.
The following day I walked down the hill towards the tram stop and took a tram to the centre of the city. Rouen is a great mixture of modern, Gothic and medieval architecture and I wandered around the city centre stopping off at cafés and soaking up the atmosphere. The city was particularly busy and many artists and musicians were rehearsing for the Fête de la Musique which, unfortunately for me, was taking place the following day. Before I left the Guitar Retreat I had a chat with Jean who had lived in Rouen and he recommended a couple of things I should see. Rouen Cathedral, painted many times by Claude Monet, was impressive and I saw more of Monet in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen.
I walked back toward the hotel, crossing the Seine and wandering through the University part of the city. The previous night I had passed a local bar not far from the hotel and I made my way here for a drink and something to eat. I spent part of the evening with the locals watching the France vs Peru game - they were very happy.