When Marco and I rented a car for our last minute road trip from Brittany to Paris to catch our flight back to Texas, we knew instantly that we wanted to go see Mont St. Michel. But for the other few days we weren’t sure what to do in Normandy. Google to the rescue! We quickly found the other stops for our trip, Trouville-sur-Mer and Honfleur – both cities I had never heard of. However, the promise of super fresh moules-frites (mussels and French fries) in a swanky coastal town in the first and a picturesque port and the largest wooden church in France in the second made the decision easy. Instead of another food post, let me share our afternoon in Honfleur with you instead today. I’ve picked my favorite photos from our time there and included them below. You can find more in an album on my Facebook page.
Visiting Honfleur France
So, where is Honfleur? It’s about 2.5 hours northwest of Paris right at the coast close to Le Havre.
The Yachting Port in Honfleur
When we arrived in Honfleur and saw the little yachting port we instantly knew we made the right choice of coming here. After parking our rental really close to the port, we just started walking around. Instant vacation feeling set in. It’s a super pretty port with lots of sail boats surrounded by old buildings, restaurants, and shops. Towards the open water you can see the fishing port with a few small fishing boats and once in a while a bride is lifted to let more sail boats enter. We were there in January and there were quite a few people out and about enjoying the sunshine. I can only imagine that it would be packed in the summer! If it had been warmer, nothing could have kept me from buying some ice cream, sitting on the stairs at the end of the port, and just looking at sail boats coming in and going out…
Walking around Honfleur and Visiting St. Catherine’s Church
Since it was pretty but cold, we kept walking instead. And Honfleur was made for walking: the streets are small, the houses are old and original, and there are little pastry shops and museums and tea shops everywhere. I suggest you bring a map or an application that allows you to see Honfleur on your phone, because there are not many signs that point you toward the sights. We found St. Catherine’s pretty easily though and I was floored. It’s the largest wooden church with a separate bell tower in France . I’ve seen plenty of old, huge cathedrals (Cologne, Rouen, Le Mans), but I had never seen a wooden church before. It’s a totally different feeling. I felt myself transported back hundreds of years immediately after stepping inside. It was really an experience.
Pastries and Tea with a View
After hanging out in the church and taking boatloads of pictures we continued walking around. I stopped at one of the pastry shops and had the best eclair I have ever had: filled with pistachio cream and topped by pistachio glaze. Heavenly! You wouldn’t think I needed more after our lunch in Trouville-sur-Mer with all the fresh baguette, mussels, shrimps, and french fries, but go figure… there’s always a little space for an eclair somewhere 🙂 And after walking just a little further, we found a cute little salon de thé (tearoom). I resisted the pastries and chose one of about 30-40 different teas – all infused with different aromas. Mine had mango and was really good. The surprise came when we walked upstairs, sat down and looked outside: beautiful views of the port. Somehow we had picked a little tearoom that was located right above the port. How lucky are we?!
After resting a little, we packed up our things, walked back through the port to our car and drove by the last sight we had on our list: Le Pont de Normandie (the Normandy Bridge). It’s a huge bridge crossing the Seine. We were surprised by the 5 Euro toll we had to pay to cross, but it was on our way to Rouen, so… why not?! From an engineering point of view it’s really kind of cool and it’s supposedly the largest of its kind in Europe. And we caught a pretty sunset as we crossed it, so what’s not to like?
What to do in Honfleur?
We only spent about 5 hours or so in Honfleur and managed to get a good impression of the city, but there seem to be plenty more things to do there, so I’d like to go back one day with a little more time on my hand.
What we did in Honfleur:
- Strolled around in the yachting port.
- Visited St. Catherine’s church.
- Walked around town, ate éclair, and had tea with a view.
What I’d like to go back for in Honfleur:
- Buy and icecream and sit on the steps at the yachting port.
- Stay for the night and have a glass of wine in the port area in the evening.
- Visit one or two of the little museums: for example, there is a naval museum (muesée de la marine) right in the port area housed in an old church and another one in a side street of the port area called musée d’ethnographie (ethnography museum). We didn’t go into either one since they were closed, but just based on how they were housed I would wanna go inside.
- There is a small chapel outside of town (Notre Dame de Grâce) that is supposed to be really neat and since it’s on a hill you can see Honfleur from above when you’re there.
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