The historic capital city of Normandy, in northern France on the River Seine, and currently the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) region. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe.
Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries. It was in Rouen where Joan of Arc was burnt in 1431. People from Rouen are called Rouennais.
Lowry and Jan Gabrial stayed in Rouen in 1934 following Jan's abortion in Paris. The trip was part of their reconciliation after the arguments in Paris. Their reconciliation was so ecstatic that after when they quarrelled one would say "Rouen" to remind them of how happy they could be. (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 175).
As a fresh start, we set out for Rouen, with its old quaint streets, its ancient marketplace, and the hotel with purple thistles on orange paper and the great wide bed. To us Rouen was to become a symbol, the place where we began the healing process and licked each other's wounds. (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 57).
A clue to where they stayed is contained in the Lowry's 'Hotel Room in Chartres' based on this period. Lowry mentions "Ruelle de la Demi-Lune" which was on the outskirts of Rouen in an area called Deville-les-Rouen. The lane has been lost by new road systems but the Place de Demi-Lune still exists and in the 1930s had several hotels and bars. They sent a postcard to Jan's mother saying it was the kind of town they would like to live in. (Pursued By Furies Pg.176). They stayed for few days visiting riverside bars and touring the area on bicycles. (Pursued By Furies Pg.177).