Our tour gave us a half day off from following the lollipop stick and left us to look around Rouen on our own. It’s not necessary to go far to find the main attractions, and there were bikes for hire – for a mere one euro per day.
It took some poring over the instructions (though they were in English as well as French) to work out the system.
You punch in ‘day pass’, take a deep breath and insert your credit card. You are issued with a secret code, you are charged one euro, and you have 60 seconds to free your bike from the rack. A refundable deposit of EUR150 is taken from your card, in case you should decide to keep the bike for yourself.
I think they look good, and EUR150 would be a modest price to pay for a comfortable city runabout. But when the Tour de France comes through the town in July, don’t expect to see many of the teams using Rouen Cy’clics.
Cheapskate that I am, I then needed to find another rack within half an hour. If I clic’ed my bike back before then, there would be no further charges.
On the map I found a bike rack by the square where the unfortunate Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for hearing voices. Serious scholars who considered themselves intelligent debated long and hard (and probably some still do) about whether the voices in her head came from God or the Devil.
She was burned, before a change of political climate led other serious scholars to decide she was a saint after all. Sorry for the inconvenience, Joan.
Rouen was heavily bombed during the WWII Battle of Normandy, and a new church stands in the marketplace.
I clic’ed another bike from the rack and pedalled on over the cobbled Rouen streets.
I took a little break at the Notre Dame Cathedral.
It too has a chapel dedicated to St Jeanne, and has some famous dead residents in Richard I and William I.
There’s no reason to believe the good-looking, pious chaps depicted in the statues look anything like the real Dick and Bill. Probably the sculptor never saw his subjects.
I’d had enough of churches for the day, so I just spent a pleasant hour tootling from rack to rack.
The system worked well, the bikes were comfortable and more people should take advantage of the system.
Note too that helmets are not required in Rouen, or anywhere in France.
The writer was the guest of Viking River Cruises.