Even in 50 BC, the Greek geographer Strabo recognised the importance of the Seine and Rouen in transport and logistics, seeing the large channel as “one of the best trade routes formed by nature”.
During Roman times, the port became the key cross-over point between the river and sea trade which existed between the Roman Empire and Britain.
Italian marble, the wines of Provence and olive oil from Spain were shipped to Rouen bound for Britain, with returning vessels importing metals such as lead or tin.
By the 15th century, Rouen was a hub for global exploration and trade with the West Indies, Canada and the Netherlands.
Evidence of Rouen's successful trading past can be seen throughout the city.
The beautiful half-timbered houses built by wealthy merchants line city streets, and the magnificent 14th century Gros-Horloge astronomical clock was built by the affluent port city.
The Second World War was devastating for Rouen, with a ban on any river and port traffic and the port largely destroyed by intensive bombing.
However, the port was completely rebuilt post-war, allowing modernisation of facilities and quickly pre-war levels of trade and growth resumed.
The Common Agricultural Policy in 1962 was a major boost for Rouen as it was a significant exporter of flour, sugar and grain. Even today, export of these goods plays a significant role in the livelihood of Rouen, which is the largest port in Europe for the export of grain, and the fifth trading port in France by tonnage.
The Pont Gustave-Flaubert over the Seine in Rouen is the highest vertical lift bridge in the world at 86m, built to allow access to tall ships under the bridge for the Rouen Armada.
This ten-day event occurs every four years and is one of the largest gatherings of tall ships in the world, culminating in a precession of the ships along the Seine back to the sea.