The Tour de France 2012 in Rouen.

Wednesday 4th July

Waiting patiently…


Until the caravanne arrives!


With a little bit extra !

Wait here they come….

No surely not….?

Well motor powered – that would explain how they go so fast..

Hurray, here they come…


I km to go…

Blink and we missed them!

and the stragglers…

Down comes the Vittel arch – time to go for a drink to cool down!

Thursday 5th July

Ready for the race…

The caravanne arrives….

Prepare to collect the trinkets missed yesterday…..

Yet again the sweet van misses us – how can that be…..?

Let the velos begin….

and the odd spare bike!

Et le fin de course ….pour nous!

Pit Stops during the Tour de France in Rouen.

Thanks to the request of an English visitor coming to Rouen to enjoy the Tour de France, I am going to pass a few moments – a very few, about great places to eat out or drink at whilst soaking up the atmosphere. It’s not a hugely great idea to ask me, because although I have a few personal favorites – eating out is not a huge pass-time – my ‘husband à l’etranger’ might start to wonder who my new found dining companions were. Here are a few recommendations:


1. The Metropole: This is my favorite place to eat breakfast and one I savor for special occasions. It is not that it’s croissants are home made or that huge variety is the order of the day but it’s the atmosphere that counts for me. If you like people watching, it is situated a few metres from the station, a great example of Art Deco Architecture with an  awning under which you can sit, come rain or shine and watch the world go by. Their croissants and baguettes are deliciously fresh and go down well with their superb coffee (reliably sampled and verified by aforesaid ‘husband à l’etranger’ as being the best of the cafe’s in our Quartier. They serve freshly squeezed orange juice, and I don’t know where they source their oranges – but with a choice of a large or small glass, one would be mad to order anything other than a large based on how delicious it is. I may be slightly biased as I know the proprietor and his wife, and that always contributes to the conviviality of a place.

At 1 Rue Verte, a few paces from the station, a breakfast will cost just under 5€. A Menu du Jour will cost about 9.50€ if you find yourself in the area at lunch time. But remember they are closed on Sundays.

2. Le Couleur Café – Rue Eau de Robec. If several choices of coffee or tea are what you are looking for then head to Rue Eau de Robec. This is not far from the Mairie and the Eglise St Ouen, and the street is pretty with its little brook that gurgles the length of the street. This cafe has a large selection of everything including Vienoisserie and is a great choice for anyone thinking of making their way towards Place St Marc and the huge market which is held on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Again for 5€ you can expect a delicious breakfast. Saturday is an easy day for finding a traditional café. If you find yourself paying 5€ for a vienoisserie, a coffee and an orange juice, you are in the right place. If not – walk on and find somewhere else!


It’s important to remember that the French eat their main meal at lunchtime. On a saturday it is easy to find somewhere  to eat. The Rouen Gare area of town has severalcafé/restaurants all serving a main meal and display the Menu du Jour on a chalkboard outside. Some of the Cafés are more attractive than others but all serve their menu for about 10€ a head which usually includes Entrée, Assiette and Café, or Assiette, Dessert and Café.

If you have already discovered Rue Eau de Robec at Breakfast you will have noticed that the road is pedestrianised and lined with cafés and restaurants. There are a good variety, from Savory Crèpes to authentic French. Look out for the sister Atelier of ‘Fait Le Vous Même’ (where I took my Patisserie classes) where the food produced by students at the Atelier under the guidance of experienced French Chef’s is served in the small café attached. ( Note that Fait le Vous Meme is only open Monday to Friday – but a meal will cost between 7 and 10€). An average Menu du Jour should cost in the region of 10 – 15€ and the price will rise the closer to the cathedral and the Vieux Marché one goes.

3. Rue de l’Ecureuil

A stone’s throw from the Palais de Justice, on the north side, passing by the modern ‘FNAC’ store and it’s associated apartments, one passes into a large square with a fountain in the centre. (The fountain sometimes does not work, but do not confuse it for the preceeding fountainless square that forms part of the modern FNAC building.) There are several restaurants in this square, but my preferred is Le Socrates that sits on the semi-pedestrianised Rue de l’Ecureuil. This is great for a lunchtime serving a huge variety of very large salads. Caesar, Niçoise, Goats cheese to name but a few. At about 10-14€ this in another good place to eat bang in the centre of town and a great favorite with locals.


There are two main areas for eating out in the evening. Restaurants in both areas will need booking in advance.

The most expensive area is the Vieux Marché. There re several great restaurants facing onto the square. One that I have personally tried and loved was:

1. Le Petit Zinc

Le petit zinc is the old french word for the bar (describing the counter top). This restaurant, on the north side of the square is traditional french with a wide menu and a medium sized convivial setting. A couple of large traditional french ‘rooms’ with classic French decoration. The menus are always displayed outside, but last time I went a meal for two including wine was in the region of 70€ depending on the menu choice.


2. Rue de Vieux Palais

Not far away on the other side of the square, this small road runs southwards toward the river. This road houses two excellent pizza restaurants and also a delightful small ‘Kebab’ restaurant. I do not mean the ubiquitous ‘end of a night out’ style kebab. These are barbequed squewered meats of the customers choice served with potatoes, couscous and vegetables in an authentic french restaurant. The prices were significantly lower than the Vieux Marché whilst being only a few paces away.

The other side of the Cathedral:

3. Rue de Martainville/ Eglise St Maclou

Passing the cathedral on the left hand side (walking away from the Gros Horlodge) and passing through the narrow Rue St Romain, and crossing Rue de la Republique one comes to the Eglise St Maclou Square (sadly covered in scaffolding). Taking the lane on the left side of the church there are several restaurants with outside seating jumbled together in traditional colombage timber framed buildings. The architecture is delightful, the restaurants engaging but I cannot comment on the prices. The menu du jour comes in at about 17€.

Get the Tourist information office in the Cathedral square to mark the four prime areas on a map:

1. Rouen Gare

2. FNAC and Rue de l’Ecureuil

3. Rue Eau de Robec and Eglise St Maclou

4. Vieux Marché

As for drinks, most of the cafe’s in the the region about FNAC, and also Rouen gare serve drinks independently of food. One can expect to pay in the region of 1.50€ for a coffee, 2-4€ for a glass of wine depending on the decorative level of the café, and around 4€50 for a beer depending on the brand. Soft drinks , coke, lemonade etc will always be in the region of 2.5€


The Tour de France

Tour de France at Rouen

On the way to work this morning there were groups of fit looking cyclists on many road junctions, gathering  to set off for some daily training. Let’s not mix words, these guys were looking seriously fit.

Rouen is pretty good for hills, many of the major arterial routes and smaller side roads take a serious climb up out of the Seine valley to the plateaux beyond – and I should know, since I regularly join a group of french mamans for a circuit of the Forêt Verte, north of Rouen and being the most (city) centrally located maman of the group, I have the furthest  and therefore longest and hardest climb. I have been known to take my bike in the car to miss out the steep city centre roads since there are plenty more hills once we reach the forest – and the french maman’s are correct in their assertion that I miss out on the downhill race at the end of our sortie when I do so – but sometime’s being an exhausted heap of sweat with legs like jelly is not the ideal starting point for meeting the french maman’s who are looking chic and cool at our rendez-vous to begin the ‘pretty bit’ of the cycle ride.

I am therefore in awe of these fit men, though I do sometimes stop to wonder quite how they happen not to be in the office at 9am on a weekday morning. I wonder if there is special dispensation for cycle leave – Congé de Velo, as we are of course approaching the sporting phenomenon – equal of course to Wimbledon in national importance – The Tour de France.

This year I am very excited, having lost out on the purchase of a house on the Tour de France route in the Pyrenees some years ago, because the Tour de France is coming right past my door (or within a couple of hundred metres of it anyway!)

The Tour de France passes through Rouen twice,  on two consecutive days, and I shall be there to watch not just one fit looking cyclist but hundreds of extreme atheletes thundering past, even if the whole process takes mere minutes, at least I can get a second ‘take’ the following day.

The last time the ‘Tour’ came through Rouen was in 1997. This is the 99th Tour and approximately 500 000 spectators are expected to be lining the two routes.

The first route on the 4th July runs between Abbeville in the North and Rouen and covers 214km. The cyclists will run a coastal route which passes Eu, Dieppe, St Valery en Caux and Fecamp before descending into the Seine valley.

The second route on the 5th July runs from Rouen to St Quentin in L’Ainse and covers 197km and will follow the Boucles de la Seine (the twists of the Seine).

The arrival point on the 4th July will be at Quay Jean Moulin where a giant screen will be erected so that the spectators will ‘ne pas perdre une miette de ce grand moment sportif’, or otherwise said…not miss a crumb of this great event! The arrival of the ‘caravan’ will be approxiamtely 15.54 with the hind- runners arriving about 17.11.

On the 5th July, the depart of the ‘caravan’ will be 10.45 with the runners leaving about 12.30. A full itinerary of times of ‘passage’ throughout Normandie can be found on or in the June 2012 (No 178) Seine maritime Magazine.

To coincide with this great sporting moment two of the great Armada ships are mooring on the Seine quayside at Rouen, and will give us a little glimpse of next years great event – The 2013 Armada Celebration at Rouen where the Seine will be bulging at the seams with Armada tall ships.

But for those like me who, if on a bike, would have lost sight of the Tour de France stragglers after a mere nanosecond, the opportunity to take a spin on the hallowed cycling ‘turf’  has been made possible by the Department Haute Normandie. ‘A Chacun son Tour’ (To everyone his turn) is an offer to amateur cyclists to cycle some or all of the route, Eu to Rouen, on sunday 1st July.

If even that seems too daunting there are always the electric velos for hire, parked at various points about the city!

Sadly the only ‘Maillot Jaune’ that we will be likely to wear will be the ones we found lurking in the bottom of the drawer earlier the same morning !

For more info

Pitstops in Rouen – The Tour de France