If you’re looking for a truly unique way to explore history, art, and architecture, head to the Panorama XXL in Rouen. This massive rotunda, perched on the banks of the Seine, houses temporary panoramic exhibitions that will transport you to another time and place.

The Panorama XXL is the only attraction of its kind in France. Each exhibition features a stunning 360° canvas created by Austrian artist and architect Yadegar Asisi. These gigantic works of art, measuring an impressive 105 feet tall, are the result of years of meticulous research and craftsmanship.

The Making of a Masterpiece

To create each panorama, Asisi and his team spend up to three years gathering information, making sketches, and taking photographs. They sometimes even use live models and actors to ensure the accuracy of the scenes they’re depicting.

Asisi then combines tens of thousands of drawings, paintings, and digital images to create a single, seamless canvas. The level of detail is incredible – you could spend hours examining every inch of the panorama and still discover new things.

Bringing the Past to Life

But the magic of the Panorama XXL doesn’t stop with the canvas itself. Special sound and lighting effects are used to make the scenes feel even more realistic. As you stand in the center of the rotunda, surrounded by the 360° image, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another era.

During our visit, we had the chance to experience Rouen 1431, a panorama depicting a day and night in the life of the city during the Middle Ages. This was the time of Joan of Arc, and the canvas was filled with fascinating details from her story and the history of Rouen.

Exploring the Exhibition

To fully appreciate the panorama, you’ll want to view it from multiple angles. The rotunda has an observation tower in the center with several platforms at different heights. Start on the ground floor to get an overall sense of the scene, then climb the tower to examine the details up close.

As you explore, keep an eye out for some of the key sites and scenes depicted in Rouen 1431, such as:

  • The winding streets and half-timbered houses of medieval Rouen
  • The Seine River, Port of Rouen, and Mathilde Bridge (where Joan of Arc’s remains were allegedly thrown after her execution)
  • The 13th-century Cordeliers Convent (no longer standing today)
  • Place de la Calende and the religious Procession of the Saint Romain Privilege
  • Parts of Rouen Cathedral that were still under construction in the 15th century
  • Aître Saint-Maclou, a former cemetery and plague ossuary that now houses an art center
  • Joan of Arc being led through the crowds to the Old Market square for her execution

Dive Deeper with Special Exhibits

Along With the main panorama, the Panorama XXL also features special exhibitions that provide more context and background information. These exhibits include information boards, photographs, artwork, historical artifacts, and digital displays.

You’ll learn about the process of creating the panoramas, from the initial research to the final installation. It’s a fascinating look at the intersection of art, history, and technology.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Allow plenty of time – You could easily spend an hour or more exploring the panorama and related exhibits. Don’t rush through it!
  • Buy a combo ticket – If you’re also planning to visit the Joan of Arc Historial, consider purchasing a combo ticket for both attractions. It’ll save you a few euros.
  • Check the schedule – The Panorama XXL rotates its exhibitions periodically, so check ahead to see what’s on display during your visit. Upcoming panoramas include The Wall (depicting the Berlin Wall) and Amazonia (showcasing the Amazon rainforest).
  • Explore the surroundings – The Panorama XXL is located right on the Seine River, so take some time to stroll along the waterfront before or after your visit. You’ll get great views of the city and maybe even spot some of the sites depicted in the panorama.

Getting There

The Panorama XXL is located at Quai de Boisguilbert Hangar 2, right on the banks of the Seine. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the city center and the cathedral.

If you’re coming by public transportation, the closest metro stop is Théâtre des Arts on the T4 line. From there, it’s about a 5-minute walk to the Panorama XXL.

Ticket Info

Adult admission to the Panorama XXL is €9.50. If you’re also planning to visit the Joan of Arc Historial, you can purchase a combo ticket for both attractions for €15.00.

There are also discounts available for children, students, seniors, and groups. Check the Panorama XXL website for more details and to purchase tickets online in advance.

A Must-See in Rouen

Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just someone who appreciates unique experiences, the Panorama XXL is a must-see attraction in Rouen. It’s a chance to step back in time, learn about another world, and marvel at the incredible skill and creativity of the artists and historians who bring these panoramas to life.

So add the Panorama XXL to your Rouen itinerary, and get ready to be transported to another era. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to linger for hours, soaking up every fascinating detail. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

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