Having spent a full day in Bayeux the day before, we got an early start on our fourth day in Rouen, a Thursday. In the afternoon, we took a bus over to the Musee des Beaux-arts stop, and walked past that august museum (which we would visit the next day), to approach one of the museums on our list that we had not seen in 2014 – the Ceramics Museum.
The entrance to the museum is actually in the back, so first you see the front of the building, but you walk up the stairs to its right –
then you turn left and walk through one door into the museum’s courtyard –
then finally, you enter through a set of double doors into the museum.
The Ceramics Museum is another branch of Rouen’s City Museum, with hours only in the afternoon, and free admission. Housed in the former Hotel d’Hocqueville, a modest mansion with several floors of manageably-sized rooms, visiting this museum is the perfect way to pass an afternoon.
From the first plate displayed behind glass not far from the admission desk, I was thrilled. And while I can’t tell you a lot about the different sorts of ceramics, I have made note of some details that may be instructive. Rest assured that what I make note of is a tiny fraction of what we saw that day.
The first room is noteworthy as a room all by itself – the walls are covered with the decorations original to the house from before it was a museum. Nevertheless, the display in this room stole the show – among the pieces exhibited was a Deruta plate from the 16th century that was just splendid.
The next room we entered was dedicated to the works of Masseot Abaquesne, mainly floor tiles created by his studio.
Another room contained earthenware sculptures such as these two entertaining ones of Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
One piece on display that I found extremely intriguing was a violin covered in Delft ceramic. I wonder if this piece was made to honor a particular musician, or if it in fact could ever be played. It doesn’t show any signs of ever having been strung, but it could have been. I am sure one of my string player friends could tell me whether you would be able to get any good sound out of an instrument with a ceramic body.
Probably my favorite piece of the entire collection was also contained in the display cases in that first room – a plate ringed with rabbits and hunting dogs with a pair of lovers in the center, from the Renaissance as I recall.
When we left the museum, we walked southward into the center of Rouen, first passing through the Allee Eugene Delacroix and its awesome gate.
Our destination was the Palais des Thes. We had brought some teabags with us from our stay at Astor St-Honore Hotel in Paris, but those only lasted us a couple of days. So we were hoping to get enough tea – in bags or loose – to last us for the rest of our stay in France.
The shop sells mostly loose tea. We indicated our preference for mint tea, and they let us sniff two kinds, one that was a sort of Moroccan mint with green tea, and a second that was a very intense perfumy mint. We decided on the former, and left very happy with a container of first class tea.
As on many occasions in Rouen, we turned and looked up and there was a breathtaking vista of the city’s ancient looking architecture.
Our next stop was at Dame Cakes for some afternoon refreshment. Situated right across the street from the old Archbishop’s Palace, Dame Cakes has quite an auspicious location.
On this occasion, we decided to get a table and have some refreshment in the cafe itself. None of their cakes are dairy free, sadly (they sound fantastic). But, as had happened the first time we visited here during our stay in 2014, when I told the waitress about my allergy, she steered me toward the front counter and its display of dark chocolates. I selected one that was made with dried fruit and nuts. Coupled with a Diabolo Menthe, a typical French soft drink made with spring water and mint syrup served over ice, I was very very happy.