Rouen, the capital of Normandy and situated along the River Seine (a six-hour transit at slow to moderate speed from estuary to city), hosts around 70,000 ocean and river cruise visitors each yea,r and overnight stopovers in Rouen itself, or Paris, are becoming a growing trend.
More than 95% of visiting river cruise ships stay overnight for one night and some of the major operators' vessels stay two nights.
For ocean vessels, all but one of the nine calls scheduled in 2014 will overnight.
The city’s cathedral is situated within walking distance of the port and visitors gather at dusk to enjoy the double bill of Rouen’s ‘Son et Lumiere’ spectacle.
There are two shows totalinng about 30 minutes. ‘First Impressions’ was created as part of the International Normandy Impressionist Festival last year, Normandy being the home of Impressionist artist Claude Monet.
Scenes depicted include a fishing trip, children on a swing, plus a cascade of images accompanied by the sound of children laughing. The cathedral is also lit up in an avalanche of colours giving the crowds a glimpse of what the building would have looked like in the Middle Ages.
The second show, ‘Joan(s),’ retraces Joan of Arc’s story from her birth to her martyrdom at the stake, just yards from the cathedral itself. These shows are free to visitors.
Production for one of next year’s shows, ‘Viking Normandy,’ is already under way and it is expected that more than 400,000 visitors will see this year’s shows that run nightly until September 21.