This week saw the opening night of the 2014 season of sound and light shows, projected against the Western façade of Rouen’s gothic Cathedral, that have grown to become one of the key highlights on France’s tourism calendar.

Rouen, the capital of Normandy and situated along the River Seine, hosts around 70,000 ocean and river cruise guests each year and its location makes it perfect for overnight stopovers either in Rouen itself, or even Paris. The city’s cathedral is situated within walking distance of the port and visitors gather to enjoy the double bill of Rouen’s “Son et Lumiere.”

There are two shows of total length about 30 minutes.  “First Impressions” was created as part of the International Normandy Impressionist Festival last year, Normandy being the home of Impressionist artist Claude Monet. The second show “Joan(s)” retraces Joan of Arc’s story from her birth to her martyrdom at the stake, the site being just yards from the Cathedral itself. These shows are free to visitors.

Production for one of next year’s shows “Viking Normandy” is already underway and it is expected that more than 400,000 visitors will have seen this year’s shows that run nightly until September 21st.