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We arrived early afternoon to Rouen, a charming town and the historic capital of target=newwindowNormandy.  Our hosts were Joyce and his girlfriend Swan from Paris.  Their bohemian pad on the fourth floor overlooked the Eglise St Ouen, one of the many beautiful churches and grounds in the historic centre - especially beautiful when snow dusted the towers and trees. 

Joyce loves to cook, and sticks to authentic local-grown organic produce where he can.  He made us a drool-inducing dinner of roast chicken for our first night, and a corn pate with salsa for the CS party we went to the second night.

Joyce took us on a walking tour of the historic downtown.  Some buildings were spruced up nicely, others still had the collective grime of centuries of industrialization.  Many homes had precarious leans, and the leaning structures have stayed through alterations and structural improvements.

The highhlights of our tour included the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, the town's former graveyard Aitre St-Maclou, which was dug up every 200 years for new bodies and the bones stored in the surrounding buildings, and the town's cathedral

The small alleyways and stores were very charming, and the leaning architecture very distinctive.  We also passed by the Palais de Justice, which still has the bullet holes from the Allied fighting after D-Day in World War II. 

Despite the sun in the afternoon, the evening was bitterly cold.  But we were rewarded for our suffering by a snowfall both nights.  Very pretty.  We also got to wear slippers in the form of oversized Bambis.  Cozy, but we'd often trip over Bambi's feet.

The second night Andrew went to a CouchSurfing party, and met many interesting people from Rouen and elsewhere.  These guys meet every fortnight or so for wine, food and a good time. 

All in all, we quite liked Rouen.  It was a nice respite from crowded, cosmopolitan Paris, and had a "ye-olde" charm that felt authentic, like it's still an important, viable French centre, unlike Brugge which we visited later on and which relies heavily on tourism.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Rhine River area of Germany

Lucerne, Switzerland

the Swiss Alps at Murren, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland

the French Alps

Geneva, Switzerland

Lyon, France

Paris, France

Rouen, France

Normandy Beaches of France

Brugge, Belgium



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