le 8 juin 2023 by Omar Rahman
We all woke up around 7:30 this morning. At this point, we have become accustomed to our French lives and French families, beginning with our morning shots of coffee and baguettes before we head off to class. Today, our class involved a project where we had to write a short paragraph and record a short video on William the Conqueror. During our first few days, we were used to the name William the Conqueror as Caen memorializes him with many streets and statues being named after him. However, the main interest was our day trip to Rouen, a neighboring city to Caen. We got on the bus and headed to Rouen. As we reached our destination, we walked out to the Old City, narrow with pedestrian streets lined with half-timbered houses and overshadowed by monuments and churches. Here spread the foundations of the Renaissance in France and we were tasked with exploring the city on our app “Rouen Enigma” in groups of three. Of course, my group and I began the tour with lunch at a small creperie. There we got several crepes and croques nordiques before exploring the city. As we walked, we saw several landmarks, a few of which were the Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen, a 14th century clock, and a Statue of Jeanne d’Arc. The cathedral is the subject of many paintings by Claude Monet, one of France’s most renowned impressionist painters. He is said to have painted this cathedral more than thirty times. The building itself has many stained glass windows and is divided by three doors. We learned that this division is supposed to represent the tripartite holy trinity. The large clock, called Le Gros-Horloge is a 14th century astronomical clock that was created during the renaissance and is one of the oldest mechanical pieces in France. Finally, the statue depicts Jeanne d’Arc at the stake and was carved by Maxime Real del Sarte with Roger de Villers in 1927. But more importantly than the statue itself was the little bit of history we knew about it. None of us knew whether the story was true or not, but we learned in French class that Jeanne d’Arc was a peasant girl who eventually became the leader of French resistance against England in the 15th century. Still, she was supposedly burned at the stake for heresy at that spot in Rouen, 610 years ago. As the tour slowly came to an end, there was time for one more break for food. While some of us retreated to the comfort of McDonalds, others tried an Asian Fusion restaurant which had some of the best food yet. After a well-spent afternoon in Rouen, it was time to head back to Caen on the 90-minute bus ride back which included a lot of sleeping. Before returning to our homes, several of us played a bit of soccer at Caen University. As our host families began to call us back on WhatsApp, we were ready for dinner and some well-needed rest.