The Butter Tower of Rouen

Located on the southern edge of the facade of the famous Rouen Cathedral, the Butter Tower, constructed between 1485 and 1506, is a masterpiece of Late Gothic, or Flamboyant Gothic, style architecture.  Whereas some historians attribute its name to the unique color of stone used to construct it which almost gives the illusion that it was sculpted out of butter, others believe that butter is the reason for the tower, rather than the inspiration.  

Apparently, the construction of this magnificent tower was financed by the indulgences collected by the Church from the wealthy citizens who ate dairy products during Lent - despite the formal interdiction of the Church! Normandy is famous for its dairy products - and has been for quite some time - and the citizens of Rouen, although quite religious, were unable to resist the siren song of the famous Normandy butter, and so were able to reconcile their insatiable appetites by donating to the church.  Sadly there is no official record of just how much butter they consumed during those 21 years, but if the level of detail in the architecture of the tower is any indication, we can imagine that they indulged in quite a bit..

Over the years, the tower has served as a source of artistic inspiration for all sorts of creative minds : the impressionist painter Claude Monet featured the tower prominently in his legendary series of paintings of the church, completed over the course of the 1890s.  The tower also served as the inspiration for the Tribune Tower in Chicago, a Gothic Revival skyscraper built between 1923 and 1925.  

Rouen is just a short train ride away from Paris, and easily accessible by car as well; as such, it makes for an excellent day trip, and a wonderful chance to escape the bustle of Paris and see a bit more of what France has to offer.  To book a day trip to Rouen, please email :