Honfleur is a lovely little commune located in the Lower Normandy region of France, within the department of Calvados. Located on the southern bank of the Seine estuary, it is situated very close to the exit of the Pont de Normandie, an extremely striking bridge we had to cross to get across the Seine from Le Havre.
Honfleur is famous for a few things, the first of which was immediately in plain sight upon our arrival in the town – its beautiful port.
The port, which is characterised by the colourful slate-covered houses that line it, has been painted time and time again by many famous artists (of the Ecole d’Honfleur), who in fact, then went on to contribute to the Impressionist movement. The resulting legacy of this are the numerous art galleries which populate the town today.
As it is December, the area surrounding the port is filled with Christmas market stalls selling a variety of things, from vin chaud (hot wine) to bread and vegetables.
Honfleur is fairly small, so a map is unnecessary. I’d recommend going the way we did, which was to just explore freely, going down the first side road that takes your fancy. We ended up walking through an old and narrow street, strolling under stone archways and walking past timber-framed houses that used to be fishermen’s cottages.
After browsing through some art galleries, we find ourselves in yet another alleyway, this time filled with shops selling the famed local products of apple cider and calvados liqueur.
Other side streets hold wonders of their own, with shops selling handmade soaps, nougat and other edible items in colourful packaging.
There are other sights to behold if one manages to tear themselves away from the pull of the shops! The Saint Catherine church in particular, is worth a mention as it is the largest church made out of wood in France. Interestingly, the church was actually built by the city’s ship builders who went about creating the church in the same way – using only axes and no saws!
The townsfolk had the good sense to build the bell tower a way away from the church, to protect the parishioners in case of a fire (the bell tower attracted lightning due to its height).
The sun was beginning to set by the time we exited the church and raindrops were starting to fall. This provided us with a good excuse to step into a creperie we were walking past that was emanating some inviting smells (it was La Cidrerie if you’re wondering!). The sweet crepes on offer sounded amazing, but I was in the mood for a galette and went with one served with Comte cheese and an egg, a winner on a cold winter evening.
The rain had not stopped by the time we were done, but we figured that we had covered most of the town anyway, and so, decided to head back to Upper Normandy. And so, that ended my short but sweet visit to Honfleur, a town I’d recommend anyone visiting Normandy to detour to for half a day at least. 🙂
Have you been to Normandy or Honfleur in particular? What did you think?