It occurred to me that I have rambled on for months but never given you the opportunity to see what Rouen is like for yourselves. I live in the fabulous Quartier Gare, otherwise known as the region around Rouen Station. Now whilst the area around most city stations is dirty and smelly, Rouen is very chic. It is the edge of the most chic quartier of all – St André, where all the Parisien commuters and Rouen professionals live, and so we qualify for beautiful architecture, specialist shops and walking distance to the hypercenter of Rouen.
I live in an old ‘turn of the century’ immeuble, a couple of hundred metres from the station building, and this is a photo-montage of my trip about Rouen Gare!
Having left my building:
I pass along the street to the end where I find the Station.
This Fabulous Art Nouveau building is Gare Rouen Rive Droite. It was designed by Adolphe Dervaux and construction was completed in 1928 with the Station being inaugurated by the then president Gaston Doumergue on the 4th July. It provides direct TGV services to Paris and Strasbourg, Le Havre and Marseilles. Handy then for shopping and the beach – what more could a girl want!
Passing on, we have the most delectable of Boulangeries, Yvonne, with her ‘to die for’viennoiseries’ but also voted ‘best baguette maker’ by my four children – and they should know, having tested all the baguettes in the region.
Next we pass our florist, and it’s not really possible to pass by either without admiring the display of flowers, nor without saying hello to the goldfish, who must have one of the prettiest homes on the planet!
The trouble is that when you stop and chat to all these wonderful people in their shops, the tasks that you set yourself somehow get sidetracked. Fully meaning to give you a tour of Rouen itself, I find that the florist (who is the one who gives me flowers for free every now and then when they are past their prime) has been chatting to the owner of the Metropole, (and we shall visit there in a second) and worked out that I give English lessons. So instead of a tour of Rouen for you, I am drawn into discussing a new potential pupil, and am now running late!
Anyway, there is always time for the Café Metropole. It is the chic’est café of the quartier. But not only that, but the son of the owner is in Theo’s class, and the owner likes to speak a little English to me when he can, by way of practice. And I should say he is pretty good, and gets the odd verb in the wrong tense – just like me in fact, which makes for a pretty comfortable converation. When my parents visited last weekend, we stopped for a drink, and he came up to chat. Well, having introduced my parents to quite a crowd of French speakers, my mum breathed a sigh of relief when he disappeared off to get our order and said “Its all starting to fall into place, I really felt I understood what he was saying”. “Sadly, mum” I replied, “he was speaking in English, only with a French accent!”
After all that indulgence, It is time for a few healthy vegetables for the lunch table, so we’ll make a quick stop at the Vegetable shop. When I first arrived in the Quartier, the two ladies who run this shop were very ‘Parisien’. In other words they didn’t have much time for the average tourist. It was all very perfunctory and down to business. After a few weeks of visits, I think they were slightly suprised that I ‘hadn’t gone home yet’! Since then I have probably been their best ‘tomato’ customer, the boys have explained the workings of the ‘Beyblade’, and we swap on a regular basis the English/French cooking methods for the humble vegetable.
Our final visit will be to the Bucher next door. Our butcher is a jovial man, and the first time I crossed his path was in the search of sausages on a tempestuous december day. By the time I reached his counter I was soaked to the skin, and muttered something along the lines of ‘raining cats and dogs’ in fairly basic french, to which he roared uproariously since they don’t have that expression inFrance. Since then we have made a point of swapping French and English colloquial expressions which always makes for an amusing encounter. But may I say that his home-made sausages are fantastic!
Before we head back to the apartment with our sack-load of goodies, I have just to show you one more little jewel in our neighbourhood. The Eglise St Romain.
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