On Thursday July 7th we once again had a quiet morning. After all, the previous day was a very ambitious one, a road trip to 3 towns in the Seine River valley. But after relaxing and getting our act together (probably washing some clothes in our in-apartment machine and setting the wet clothes to dry on the heated drying racks, as well as eating breakfast and doing some drawing and editing some photographs), we set out to start our day. Lunch at our favorite restaurant in Rouen, La Rose des Vents Snack, was a good start.
I had written to Frederic and Bertrand, the two proprietors of the restaurant, letting them know we would be coming. And sure enough, they had a table reserved for us, right in the middle of the dining room! From there, we were able to see all the eclectic decor in this antique store turned local Rouen icon.
As I recall, I could’ve had either dish they offered that day prepared dairy free. I elected to go for their Gravlax salad. It was so much food, it really stuffed me. And speaking to Frederic was like catching up with an old friend.
One of the things we asked Frederic was if there were any museum exhibits or other cultural things going on in Rouen that were a must see, in his opinion. And what do you know – he told us we should really see the exhibit of William Klein’s photography at the Church of St Ouen, which is exactly what we were planning on seeing that afternoon!
The Church of St Ouen is probably the largest Gothic church in Rouen – or perhaps I should say “former” church, since it has been de-consecrated, and is now used as a space for art exhibits, music performances and the like.
On this occasion, it was hosting a retrospective exhibit of the photography of William Klein. I was more familiar with Klein’s films – I own the set of three films on the Criterion Collection Eclipse Series called The Delirious Fictions of William Klein. But his photography is very well-known also – perhaps the most well-known is one of an elegant woman smoking, and this photo was used in the exhibit.
Klein’s work is generally very accessible. The exhibit was organized by the cities in which the photographs were taken – New York, Paris, Tokyo, several others. In each case, his method is usually to capture candid photos where people are the focus.
We enjoyed seeing all the photos, and felt that they did a wonderful job of using the space – not only in how the photos lined the walls of the side aisles, but also in how they used banners and hangings to connect the work to the aesthetic of the building.
While one half of the former church – what used to be the nave, generally – hosted the photography exhibit, the other half has been preserved. I enjoy seeing the ornate wrought ironwork especially. And the original stained glass windows are very lovely as well.
Our next stop was at the Church of Saint Maclou, not far from St Ouen Church, for the afternoon organ concert. A nice crowd gathered, and as it turned out, the church was open for a while before the concert, giving us another chance to wander around and admire the stained glass and so forth.
The concert was given by Jean Baptiste Monnot, who is actually the organist for the Church of Saint Ouen and gives regular concerts there. As a musician myself, I usually like to know all about what I will be hearing in a concert; but on this occasion, I must confess that there was no printed program and I don’t remember what was played (I do remember Mr. Monnot taking advantage of the full range of the instrument’s abilities, really getting the building shaking, great fun). Afterward, we had a cold refreshment across the street from the church and got to speak with Mr. Monnot – he was very polite and friendly. One of the things I especially love about Rouen – things are casual and immediate, with none of the pretense or airs you might encounter in a larger city.
To finish up the afternoon, we wandered along one of the most beautiful streets in Rouen, Rue Saint Romain, which is right next to the cathedral and filled with shops. Therese was getting that look in her eye that tells me she was in a mood to shop, and I know that when she looks that way, the best thing is to go along for the fun.
When we were there in 2014, we had bought a piece of Faience ceramic from one of the two Faience shops on this street. Today, we looked in the window of the “other” one, namely Faiences Saint Romain. The fellow minding the shop was sitting at a table in the front, very carefully painting decorations onto pieces of ceramic which would then be ready for firing. We had seen something in the window that caught our eye, a sort of round butter dish with a cover (I later heard that it was actually a dish meant for serving brie cheese but I think it will be great for serving lots of non-dairy items too!). When we asked him about it, he motioned us toward a shelf with several of them on it, each of them a little different from the other.
Heavens, we would have to pick – however would we ever decided which one we liked best? Of course, Therese leaves me to make those decisions. Eeny, meenie… the one with the grapes and butterflies on it spoke to me, and Therese agreed that it has “our” colors on it, so that was the one we picked. A perfect end to another wonderful day in Rouen.