( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The historic old City of Rouen--Its celebrated Churches — Havre, the Seaport of Paris—Its Commerce —Embarking for Home on the Steamer Normandie.
HAVING passed a summer that has been quite unusual as to unwelcome climatic conditions, the atmosphere having been exceptionally damp and chilly, everywhere except in Italy, and having made our tourist notes of men and things" encountered, we draw towards the close of the Glances and Glimpses of the scenes and events herewith presented to those who may feel such an interest in our record as to follow us in our wanderings ; we turn our faces homeward, pausing long enough in the gay French capital to catch such views of the unending panorama as may enable us to note the changes that have transpired since our previous visit.
Paris is, at all times, a city of especial interest to the traveller, and it always includes within its limits a large number of people be-sides its own citizens. There is a constant succession of " transients," who tarry here for a brief visit as they go and come in their continental wanderings, besides quite a foreign contingent or colony who makes its permanent residence here.
But there seems to be a growing indisposition on the part of wealthy foreigners to settle here, and on the part of tourists to make as frequent and extended visits as formerly, arising no doubt from the fact that the authorities, under Republican rule, are less lavish in their outlay for promoting the enjoyment of the people and for stimulating trade than was the case under the Empire.
Much of this state of things is also due, unquestionably, to that feeling of insecurity which is prompted by a want of confidence in the permanency of the present government. The instinctive dread of violent changes, and the constant apprehension that they are imminent, always act disastrously upon the trade and prosperity of such a city as Paris.
For these reasons London is now taking the precedence over Paris as a rallying point for travellers, and even as a residence with those who settle down for a longer or shorter period ; and this, notwithstanding its marked disadvantage as it respects situation and climate, compared with Paris.
The majority of Americans who travel on the continent, return home via London and Liverpool, though it involves much more ex-pense and fatigue, and despite the fact that equally as good accommodations are afforded by the French line of steamers from Havre, which can be reached by a pleasant railway ride of five hours from Paris.
We choose the latter route, and take the train for Rouen, where we pause for a single day to visit one of the most interesting old cities of France. Rouen has a population of more than 100,000, and is, therefore, one of the largest of French cities. In its architecture and streets it contains a strange mixture of the old and the new. In the old city the streets were exceedingly narrow, and lined with quaint structures, many of which have stood for hundreds of years. Some samples of this character still remain, and are exceedingly interesting. But, during the last fifty years, old buildings and streets have been swept away and wide avenues opened and lined with new structures, so that all the rebuilt portions of the city have a modern aspect which contrasts curiously with those portions of the old Rouen yet left undisturbed.
A grand boulevard has been constructed around the city, on the site of the old fortifications, from many points of which fine views are afforded.
The chief edifice is Rouen Cathedral, which is quite celebrated, and contains a large number of sculptures and monuments. The heart of Coeur de Lion was buried here. The Church of St. Ouen is one of the finest Gothic edifices in Europe. It was commenced in the fourteenth century, and is a larger and nobler structure than the cathedral, but contains less historical monuments.
Rouen lies directly on the Seine, which is navigable for heavy vessels to this point. It has a large trade with the United States, and imports immense quantities of cotton, petroleum, etc. It is the centre of one of the largest cotton-manufacturing districts in the world, employing over 200,000 operatives.
Joan of Arc was burned here, in one of the squares, in the year 1431. The town was at that time in possession of the English, but was afterwards recaptured by the French. It is well provided with museums of natural history, galleries of the fine arts and depositories of industry.
Havre, which is the seaport proper of Paris, and 143 miles distant by railway, is one of the principal watering places in Northern France. It was founded in the year 1516. It has been so largely rebuilt during the last fifty years that it has the appearance of a modern city, though some bits of the old town are visible here and there, presenting a most quaint appearance in contrast with the new structures.
Havre has one of the best harbors in France, upon which large amounts have been expended in erecting and maintaining the necessary sea barriers for its effectual protection. Her trade is the result of a steady growth through three centuries, and now it is an important factor in the commerce of the world. Immense quantities of the leading products of the United States enter this port with corresponding exports of the argicultural commodities and manufactures of France. Her docks and basins are among the finest in the world, covering more than fifty acres. Previous to the opening of the sixteenth century it was little more than a fishing village, but, under the special patron-age bestowed upon its marine during the reigns of Louis XVI. and Napoleon I., it developed into a first-class port.
The modern city has outgrown the old limits, has swept away its walls and ramparts, and is spreading over the neighboring heights, which are exceedingly sightly and picturesque. Standing at the highest point of these lovely hills we are warned of the approaching hour for the departure of our steamer, by the shrill whistle of the special train from Paris, exclusively appropriated to the passengers she is waiting to receive. So we hasten to the dock, and join in the procession as it files on board the steamer, recognizing several acquaintances among the usual variety of types that go to make up the complement for the voyage, and soon find ourselves on board the Normandie and fairly embarked on the voyage that is to bear us to the coveted shores of "our own, our native land."
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