Photography by René Mattes - Text by Alice White Walker
Petite but impressive, Honfleur creates an everlasting memory for all who visit it.
Discover this little Normandy fishing village that captured both the hearts and paintbrushes of many Impressionists.
A picturesque harbor with rows of colorful buildings and boats reflected in its still waters; behind it, a maze of leafy, cobbled streets and authentic timber-framed houses — it is no wonder that the fishing village of Honfleur was one of the first places to inspire the French Impressionists.
While the neighboring Le Havre is a much larger city, people flock to Honfleur for its quaint charm. Here, there is more than enough for a day of casual sightseeing and dining, but consider adding on an evening to see the harbor lights come alive.
Spend the morning exploring the small boutiques that offer independent fashion and gourmand delights (La Maison du Caramel is always a favorite), or — if you encounter some typical Norman showers — the Musée Eugène Boudin makes for an ideal artistic refuge.
Around lunchtime, head to the Vieux Bassin. The restaurants that surround the harbor are largely touristy, but it is a beautiful canvas for a simple midday snack or a sunset apèritif. Order a crêpe and a bolée de cidre, and soak up the jolly ambiance.
Fueled and ready to go, walk a little way out of town — passing by the iconic Église Sainte-Catherine, up to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Mont Joli — for a wonderful panoramic view over Honfleur, the Seine estuary and the Pont de Normandie.
The rest of the afternoon can be spent hopping from one tea salon to the next, visiting the botanical garden and the Jardin des Personnalités, a pretty tribute to the town. Honfleur is also a great base for discovering the nearby Étretat and Deauville.
It is easy to see exactly why the Impressionists fell in love with this part of France. And we guarantee, you will too.
Things To Do
Where To Stay
3 rue des Bains, 14113 Villerville
Situated between Honfleur and Deauville, Le Paquebot is an altogether different place to stay. Built almost in the sea, this hotel has boat-like cabins rather than rooms. And as you would on a real ship, the only view is endless stretches of ocean.
1 rue Ernest Binet Villequier, 76490 Rives en Seine
Maison Plume is a home-away-from-home in the idyllic setting on the River Seine as it trickles out through Normandy, towards Honfleur. Set up by a couple of ex-Parisians, Jeanne and Simon, this guest house is an ode to simple pleasures. The five rooms and a studio (which are impeccably decorated) ensure a cozy and intimate stay.
Where To Eat
10 rue de la Prison
The oldest dining establishment in town, Vieux Honfleur is an institution. The specialty here is seafood: from fruits de mer to lobster to sole meunière, dishes are cooked according to French tradition, with fine, local ingredients. Its picturesque setting near the harbor ensures that every meal is a memorable one, and the heated, covered terrasse means you can enjoy the same views in winter, too.
Route Du Littoral
With a stunning panorama over the Baie de Seine, the restaurant of the Hotel Chaumière boasts an unbeatable environment for lunch or dinner. The kitchen is run eco-responsibly using regional vendors, organic produce and homemade recipes. During the summer season, Chaumière pitches up a UKOO® tent — the ideal way to sample a cocktail or nibbles from the Airstream food truck or outdoor barbeque.
26 place Hamelin
Normandy and crêpes go hand in hand, and La Cidrerie is one of the best places to try this delicious gourmandise. Hidden just off the main street after the Lieutenance, it serves up both sweet and savory crêpes from an open kitchen, where you can watch them being made. Plus, the extensive drink menu – that includes cider, calvados, pear, apple and pear liqueurs and more – offers a great introduction to local tipple!