Bulotamy and La guide Touristique.

For some years I’ve had a little soft spot for the word ‘bulot’. It’s come about after a little incident with the word two years ago when I decided to ‘demission’ from my first job in France.

‘Monsieur’, I wrote ‘Je veux arrêter mon boulot au fin du mois’

I can assure you that, as kind as my French  spell check has been today the ‘arrêter’ did not have a cap on the ‘e’ in the original letter, nor did ‘boulot’ mean job!

For those of you who cannot read French, what I inadvertantly wrote was..

‘Monsieur, I want to finish my snail at the end of the month’.

The letter is quite possibly still on the wall of the directors office to this day, exactly where he pinned it two years ago, having gathered the rest of his staff to watch the event in a state of hysteria.

Two years on, I am as keen to find my way in the French job market as I was then, and so I have invented this new word, ‘bulotomist’ in honour of the ‘linguistically challenged seeker in search of the perfect job’.

rouen tourist info 001Bureau de Tourisme,Rouen

Just before christmas, on my way back from the Ecole de Beaux Arts, where I am now studying to become Monet II, I spotted a glut of American tourists; and where there were tourists, there were guides. It occurred to me that one thing that I did have going my way was fluency in English and knowledge of the city, and this was surely a ‘sure thing’ where such employment was concerned.

After all, when one is obsessed by architecture, fine art and patisserie, is there such a thing as having a finger in too many pies? Not letting the sun set on a good idea, I dropped off my CV at the Bureau de Tourisme with all the panache of a serial bulotomist.

During my ski adventure in Switzerland I received word that i’d been accepted onto the ‘Formation de Guide Accompagnateur’, and today I arrived at the venue to be formed ,reformed or transformed, depending upon how one likes to look at it! To add to the authentic French atmosphere, a street musician serenaded my arrival with his accordian.

rouen tourist info 002

This morning’s lecture was two hours on the History of France with special reference to Rouen. A title worthy of  ‘Mastermind’.  My pride in my quasi-bilingualism was quickly devastated by my new found colleagues introductions. They were for the most part trilingual French and Spanish, a potential quadlingual Japanese, along side which my skills looked somewhat pathetic; there were unformed guides and several preformed guides from other regions… but only one architect. Ha!  The thought of glamourising my attributes in ropey French having heard the introductions of my counterparts set my heart racing. Thankfully, the effort of concentrating on the French wiped away all traces of nerves and if there is one thing I have learnt since living here is not to take myself too seriously. I delivered the potted me!

In four months this little oral introduction will have been transformed into a 15 minute oral exam on an aspect of the history of Rouen or its monuments, a suprise topic selected by the tutors.

‘If you pass the French oral, you get to do it in your native language’. they said.

And that’s where the fun begins!

For now we have an intensive study period from Charlemagne, and the Vikings, to Colombage, and the Renaissance. In June the Armada tall ships arrive to dock in Rouen bringing with them thousands of tourists, in July and August the Japanese arrive in their groups requiring city tours and accompanied exclusive shopping, and the summer sees a return of ‘The City of Impressionism’ and the celebration of Monet and his ‘friends’.

If all goes well, I’ll be in the thick of it…

…if not, it’ll be ‘escargots’ for me till next time!

boulotimage thanks to parispainter.blogspot

Introducing Atelier M.

Some of you may have noticed that a new menu button has appeared at the top of the page.

For a while now it has been clearly necessary to modernise myself and get all my projects and artwork digitised and on-line . If there has been a certain level of silence for a while it is because I have been sweating away with an uphill battle to do exactly that.

All architects in France have an online ‘book’ as a graphic representation of their work, so without any further delay I am presenting mine.

Last night at at a little after midnight  – or was that this morning in the early hours…whichever, I was tired when I finally hit – GO LIVE.



Please take a look! Click on the name!

A trip about Rouen – in English.

Last month I took you all on a tour of Rouen gare, to show you my own neighbourhood. Today I’m heading into the ‘Centre Ville’ to shop you what a fantastic city Rouen is.

This tour starts at the ‘Gare’ or central station, only five minutes walk from the hyper centre.

The first notable point of interest is the Tour Jean d’Arc less than a minute into our walk, the tower (of which there were several) made part of the Chateau of Rouen in 1204.


 This tower, or Le Donjon as it is often referred to, is said to have been the place of imprisonmant of Joan of Arc. In reality she was actually imprisoned in one of the other slightly smaller towers, now not in existance, but of the same chateau. For a small fee it is possible to visit the interior.

Jean of Arc features strongly in Rouen with squares, and roads named after her. But before we head to the Eglise Jean D’Arc, pause and admire the intricate stonework of the Palais de Justice, before giving a few moments thought, provoked by the many signs of artillary damage, to the effects of the war on this vibrant city and its historic buildings and its people.

The Vieux marché is another site profoundly affected by the war. Stop and take in the ruins of the old Eglise St Vincent in the centre of the square.

Admire the oldest auberge in France decked in flags and geraniums, before visiting the new Eglise St Jean D’Arc which spans the square.

 The Vieux marché houses its own small market of meat, fish, vegetables and regional produce under the shadow of the Eglise St Jean d’Arc. This recent church, which was built in 1979 houses the amazing stained glass safely removed  from the existing  Eglise St Vincent formerly on the same site, and which was stored before the the church was completely destroyed by a direct bomb blast in the second world war.

A short amble through the cobbled streets takes us past excellent shops and boutiques to the Gros Horloge, a small tower with its one-armed clock which is open to visitors.


The  Rue du Gros Horloge ends at the cathedral  square where the Cathedrale de  Notre Dame de Rouen dominates, and the first stones of which were laid in the middle ages. It is considered a legacy of the gothic style. Monet obsessed over this edifice and painted it no less than 30 times in a six year period. To celebrate his genius, the city projects each of his wonderful renderings of the cathedral onto its facade from 10pm every summer evening. An event worth watching!

Image illustrative de l'article Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen

Another short stroll takes us to the river Seine which passes through the centre of the city. During the “summer of impressionists” the Pont Boieldieu hosted it’s wonderful sculpture by artist Arne Quinze.

 Every five years the city hosts the Armada, the next being in 2013 when the Pont Flaubert, the highest lift bridge in the World, raises the road to allow the Tall Ships to moor on the Quayside in the city centre.

armada 024

But for now we must stop wistfully thinking about the events of the summer and return to our tour, where we move on to the Rouen historic quarter.

marrou cafe

I suggest a stop at this wonderful Salon de Thé, just in the Rue de la Cathedrale, on the north  wall of the cathedral for a cake or two!

rue damiette

And now refreshed, let’s visit the antiques quarter with its quirky and lopsided colombage architecture.aitre st maclouTrapped behind a glass screen in the walls of the courtyard of the Ecole de Beaux Arts is a mumified cat.  Take a minute to absorbe the quirky angles and leaning aspect of the buildings that surround it; look at the fabulous french antiques in the surrounding boutiques; and visit Les Halles, the large market just a stones throw from Eglise St Maclou.


Then refresh with a glass of Kir at the Cafe les Espiguettes in its cobbled square. There is time still to take in a few more boutiques as we head back through the main shopping thoroughfare and on to the Musee de Beaux Arts. This majestic building dominates the small Square Verdrel with its pond, trees and grassy lawn. Take time to enjoy the museum’s temporary collection, which changes month by month, or enjoy one of their mid-day lecture series and mini tours (in French). The museum holds many works that the Louvre has no room for, including some delights by Monet and manyof the  other Impressionists.

But now my feet are tired and its time to head home. Lucky then that I can already see the copper clad tower of the station building a few hundred metres further up the hill!

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Rouen – Guartier Gare