Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rouen: La ville

La ville
Rouen is a beautiful city located in Normandy, in northwestern France. It is about an hour from the coast in one direction, and an hour from Paris in the other. This happens to be where Joan of Arc was captured by the English and burned at the stake.

Le bus
The bus (tcar) runs until around 11 pm during the week. I have found that it is necessary to show up to the bus stop (at least the two near RBS) 2-3 minutes earlier than the time indicated online or at the stop. Side note: I haven't really used the metro. The bus is just over a euro a trip, but with a student ID or attestation domicile (for those of us who received our RBS ID cards in early November...), you can buy a bus card for 7 euros 50 and for 22 euros a month (student reduced rate) take the bus as many times as you like!

Cell Phone
I found out, after the fact, that I should have gotten a Bouygues cell phone instead of an Orange cell phone. My Orange phone cost 40 euros (minimum for a phone without a contract) and cuts out after 10 seconds of conversation. I get charged 50 centimes a minute (about 75 US cents) whether I call a landline or cell phone.
With a Bouguyes phone + card, I could have gotten a phone for 9 euros (+ 20 for the sim card), and paid 20 euros/month for 40 minutes (yes, I know, still 50 cents a min.) + unlimited texting. And Texting is how people communicate around here.
RBS had an orientation day the week before classes started, which included a visit from Le French Mobile in Paris. They have an unlimited plan that allows you to telephone everyone else with the same plan, but their other per-minute prices weren't much better. The phones were also 40-50 euros minimum. I have yet to see any RBS student with this cell phone service!

Two banks were suggested to me: BNP Paribas and Société Générale. However someone at RBS said that BNP has a better relationship with the United States (in general, maybe?) and makes it easier to transfer money into student accounts, etc. Plus I got 50 extra euros for opening an account with them!

Money exchange
To exchange dollars to euros in Rouen, if you have a BNP account like me, it seems that you have to venture to the part of the city across the river...between 9 and noon...on a Saturday...with your bank card. However, there is hope! You can also exchange money at the tourism office, which is conveniently located at the Place de la Cathédrale. BNP even informed me that the tourism office may have lower exchange fees

Rue Jeanne d'Arc

marking the place where Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake
view of the cathedral from Place de la Cathédrale

a cozy salon de thé just around the corner from
the Place de la Cathédrale

a soirée for foreign students organized by the student
association Culture Connection!

view of the Gros Horloge down
the rue du gros horloge

the oldest auberge in Europe, now a very fancy restauranta delicious chèvre chaud salad!

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