Honfleur is a commune in the Calvados Department in northwestern France. It is located on the southern bank of the Seine estuary across from le Havre and very close to the Pont de Normandie exit. Honfleur is the most picturesque of the Cote Fleurie's seaside towns. The cobbled streets that are lined with a stunning selection of stylish boutiques in the old timber houses. It is especially known for its old, beautiful port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave Courbet, Eugene Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the ecole de Honfleur (Honfleur school) which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. Much of its Renaissance architecture remains intact-especially around the 17th-century Vieux Bassin harbor, where the water is fronted on one side by two-story stone houses with low, sloping roofs and on the other by tall slate-topped houses with wooden facades.
Some of the best sights are the town itself and the picturesque buildings and landscapes. But the most popular sight here is the ravishing wooden church of Ste-Catherine, which dominates a tumbling square. The sanctuary and ramshackle belfry across the way were built by townspeople to show their gratitude for the departure of the English at the end of the Hundred Years' War, in 1453. It is the largest wooden church in France and is popular among tourists.
Another popular sight is the Notre-Dame de Grace chapel, which was built during the 17th century, and is richly adorned with paintings and models of ships offered ex voto by sailors. The esplanade bordering the chapel offers fine panoramic views of the Seine estuary, the port of Le Havre and the Pont de Normandie (Normandy Bridge).
The Le Vieux Bassin (harbor area) is the most popular neighborhood in Honfluer. This port was built in the 17th century and apart from the narrow entrance for boats is surrounded on all sides by beautiful, tall, narrow buildings. You can also pick up your fresh fish in the market here if you want to.
The eastern Enclos, around the church of St-Etienne, is packed with interesting buildings.
The western area slopes up to the splendid wooden church of Ste-Catherine, in a district where you will find the town's main museums dedicated to the arts.
Central Honfleur's southern area is more discreet, but well worth exploring too for its architecture, including St-Leonard church and the restored fountains.
There are many fun things to do in Honfleur. One of which is a festival of sorts. It is called the Fete des Marins and it is a two day event occurring on Pentecost Sunday and Monday (50 days after Easter). On the first day all the boats in the harbor are decked out in flags and paper roses, and a priest bestows his blessing at high tide. The next day, model boats and local children head a musical procession to the small chapel of Notre-Dame de Grace.
Another exciting festival is the five day Fete du Jazz. It occurs in mid-August, with performances in the streets and venues throughout the town center.
You could also check out some of the great museums the city has to offer, including the Blockhaus de la Gare, which a historic site with many remnants of World War II.
Food and Dining
The cuisine of Honfleur offers fresh seafood, tasty fruits, and delicious meats due to its location on a long coastline of fertile land. Some local specialties include: Canard a la rouennaise, a dish prepared with duck stuffed with a sauce made of its own blood and liver, Tarte aux pommes, which is tart stuffed with apple and topped with whipped cream or ice cream, and to drink, try Calvados, the most famous apple brandy in the province of Normandy.
Honfleur has a great selection of restaurants, especially when it comes to traditional French cuisine. Le Fleur de Sel is one restaurant serving excellent French cuisine. It is a low beamed fisherman's house that serves locally influenced traditional dishes. Another option is SaQuaNa, also with great traditional French cuisine, whose chef has earned two Michelin stars.
The closest airport to Honfleur is the Deauville-Saint-Gatien Airport, which is a local airport and receives flights from local airports such as London or Paris only. There is a bus that runs straight from the airport to the town center, so if you fly into the airport you can easily get to the town with public transit. Honfleur has no train station, but there are some bus services available in the town.