However strongly Gustave Flaubert may have criticized his home in Madame Bovary, Rouen (pop. 108,000) is no provincial town. The pathos of the Joan of Arc story and the Gothic splendor of Rouen’s churches have always entranced artists and writers, and today a younger crowd populates the vieille ville. The most famous of Rouen’s “hundred spires” are those of the UCathedrale de Notre-Dame, in pi. de la Cathedrale, one of which is the tallest in France (151m). The facade incorporates nearly every style of Gothic architecture. (Open M 2-7pm, Tu-Sa 7:45am-7pm, Su 8am-6pm.) The Musee des Beaux-Arts, 26 bis r. Jean Lecanuet, down r. Jeanne d’Arc from the train station, houses a worthwhile collection from the 16th to 20th centuries, including works by Monet and Renoir. ( 02 35 71 28 40. Open M and W-Su 10am-6pm. 3, ages 18-25 and groups 2, under-18 free.) Combining the disparate themes of Flaubert (who was raised on the premises) and medical history, the Musee Flaubert et d’Histoire de la Medicine, 51 r. de Lecat, down r. de Crosne from pi. de Vieux Marche, contains strange paraphernalia on both subjects. (02 35 15 59 95. Open Tu 10am-6pm, W-Sa lOam-noon and 2-6pm. 2.20, ages 18-25 1.50, medical students and under-18 free.)
Trains leave r. Jeanne d’Arc for Lille (3hr. 5 per day, 27) and Paris (lV4hr. every hr. 17). From the station, walk down r. Jeanne d’Arc and turn left on r. du Gros Horloge to reach pi. de la Cathedrale and the tourist office, 25 pi. de la Cathedrale. ( 02 32 08 32 40; fax 02 32 08 32 44. Open May-Sept. M-Sa 9am-7pm, Su 9:30am-12:30pm and 2-6pm; Oct.-Mar. M-Sa 9am-6pm, Su lOam-lpm and 2pm-6pm.) Check email at Place Net, 37 r. de la Republique, near the Eglise St.-Maclou. (4 per hr. Open M-Sa 1 lam-midnight, Su 2-10pm.) BHotel Normandya , 32 r. de Courdier, near the train station, is run by a friendly couple and offers comfortable, well-decorated rooms. (02 35 71 46 15. Singles 20; doubles 22.) Cheap eateries crowd place du Vleux-Marche and the Gros Horloge area. Monoprix supermarket is at 73-83 r. du Gros Horloge. (Open M-Sa 8:30am-9pm.) Postal Code: 76000.