It seemed fitting that the rainiest day my family had while on our trip round Normandie was when we visited Rouen. Despite the weather, the beautiful city just four days away from Noël was still bustling with people in full holiday spirit: the Alsatian market was going strong, the giant wonder wheel taking kids for a ride of their life (no seatbelts), the ice skating rink blasting Christmas music through the windows of the Joan of Arc chapel.
But we were on a more historical mission than the people in the city that day. Holding our Rick Steves In Normandy library book out to get rained on in the misty streets, we traversed a pathway that led us from one statue of Joan of Arc to another, to another and another. It was a three-church-visit kind of day, and with each steeple came iconography of Joan…… as if the city was desperately trying to apologize for what had happened to her there.
That someone who was burned at the stake for heresy was later made into a Saint is amazing to me.
While at the Joan of Arc museum we wondered aloud how many other women had been just like Joan: women who stated their truth, rose to power and then were burned at the stake by men. Or executed. Or thrown in jail. Or lost their jobs, had their careers destroyed, their names trashed in the tabloids. When will we be believed?
If you’re ever in Rouen, I highly suggest going to the Joan of Arc museum. I thought it was going to be super lame, but it turned out to be super cool.
Other sights for lovers of the macabre: the plague cemetery. Go when it’s raining and you’re cold and feel a little sick. It adds to the experience because you begin wondering if you have caught the plague.
I will leave you with a video extract of the most terrifying movie I had to watch in my undergrad studies. But I also love it for how it shows Joan, a 19-year-old girl, at the mercy of the buffoonery of men who think they are in charge.