If you could visit one of these towns (Rouen or Ghent) which would you choose and why?
We have never been to Ghent, so I can't do a comparison. Rouen, however, is interesting for a half day visit. We walked down the historic street, past the cathedral, to a very interesting "plague site" that is mentioned in Rick Steves' book.(I think the site is St. Maclou's?) We then had lunch at an excellent cafe facing the cathedral that Monet painted so many times. We didn't go in the cathedral because at this point in our trip we were "churched out." Finally, we walked the other direction on the same street to the site of Joan of Arc's martyrdom. (Too bad they didn't burn that unappreciative king instead!).....Didn't find much else to visit there besides the historic streets at the center; it's a large city so parking is a pain. We found much more of interest in Honfleur, Etratat, Les Andelys, Giverny if any of those are also sites you are considering.
I've been to Rouen a bunch of times and a couple or three to Ghent. Ghent's good for a day and a half, Rouen three hours at best as far as tourist stuff goes. What nobody seems to know is that Lionheart's heart is in the Rouen cathedral - - right aisle, most of the way back, left-hand side, belt high. It's dark but the sarcophagus is labeled. The rest of his stuff is kind of scattered: the guts are at Chalus and the rest of him at Anjou.
I agree with the previous replies, but I have to wonder why you are choosing between two places so far apart. A part of such a decision would be where you are and where you are going, and how you are travelling. That is, if Honfleur or Caen were in the list, Rouen would fall even farther down. And those of us who like Antwerp might put it ahead of Ghent. But even more people would put Brugge ahead of Ghent. And if art is the objective, you can also make a case for Lille, France (not so far from those last two), not to mention Brussels.
We really enjoyed Ghent. It is a not too touristy medieval city with three fantastic church towers. In one of the churches we were treated to a practice session of the organ - amazing.
Really love Ghent. STAM Museum is very well done and my sister liked some interior design museum (something like that). We enjoyed the castle and sitting by the canals seeing hot air balloons. Brugge on the other hand was touristy and a snooze. Ghent has a nice young happening vibe.