Honfleur, seamen, painters,and Normandy

For one who does not know it well it will be hard to imagine that this small fishing village in Normandy is the second most visited site in all of Normandy just behind Mont Saint Michel :::! But it is. Made famous by painters of yesteryear and today, with perhaps more museums per square meter/feet than any other city, and the fisherman touch that it always retain, its magical. One of your stops in Normandy. To me its magical,nostalgic, and a must stop several times a year. After so many trips with the family, my Mom is buried at sea just outside the harbor in the ocean current mariners style, its the way we will all go.

Honfleur is in Calvados dept 14, and it sits right in the mouth of the river Seine as it goes to sea, facing Le Havre.  To come here you have many possibilities, such as , by car/auto on the Autoroute A13, exit/ sortie Beuzeville, national road N13. Autoroute A29, exit/ sortie Honfleur. Viamichelin should help here,http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/  , then you have the trains, from Paris (gare Saint-Lazare), correspondance to Honfleur from the stations at Deauville/Trouville, from Lisieux,and Pont -l’Evéque with the Bus Verts du Calvados, lines n° 20 and n°50. bus vert webpage here http://www.busverts.fr/ . The train webpage for all travel in the area is here TER Normandie,http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/haute_normandie/Fr/Se_deplacer_en_TER/Avant_mon_voyage/Recherche_d_itineraires/Default.aspx Then, you have the airport at Deauville Saint-Gatien about 10 km,taxi to Honfleur, and the sea Car-Ferry Caen-Ouistreham/Portsmouth – Le Havre/Portsmouth.ferry webpage here
http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/

 It was first mentioned by Richard III, duke of Normandy in 1027AD as records shows. Several taken and release by the wars with the English, it was finally French from the time of Henri IV in 1590 AD. It is a city connected with many seamen and many who went to Canada, including Jehan Denis who visit  Labrador and Newfoundland taken as French possessions in 1506 AD, and Samuel de Champlain who from here sailed away to established the city of Québec in 1608AD! 

Some of the painters that at one time or another reside here were  Gustave Courbet, Eugéne Boudin ,Claude Monet, and Johan Barthold Jongkind creating the school of Honfleur that gave rise to the Impressionists movement. Still Art galleries and museum abound, such as musée Eugéne Boudin (local painter), Musée Eric Satie (local musician), Musée du vieux Honfleur (city museum), and Musée de la Marine. These have a special webpage in French for all the info ,have them in the contact section for you to ask in English is ok.http://www.musees-honfleur.fr/modules/liaise/

Some of the monuments not to missed while in the city are the following, Church of Sainte Catherine, 15C, done with an inverse boat as the roof  using naval woods, in an old market place. It has an organ from St Vincent in Rouen, and paintings by Boudin and Jongkind. Its an institution in the city, not to missed ,and the market or marché is just around it, cours des Fossés in the pl Sainte Catherine,every Saturday mornings,  the best of Normandy is here.  Church of St Etienne,the oldest in the city dates from 14C-15C. built with calcium stones and the stones from Caen, housing today the museum of the Marine. Church of St Leonard ( a man on the court of king Clovis, patron saint of prisioners) , gothic flamboyant from the 15C-17C , but on the site of a previous church from 1186 AD ,still in service,right past hotel de ville; you can see the fountain and laundry(15c)  of Leonard next to it. Greniers à sel, it house as much as 10K tons of salt to preserve the catch of the sea built in the 17C ,as the boats fronts were built then.  Chapelle Notre Dame de Grâce, built between 1600-1615 or chapel of our lady of grace, its right on a hill overlooking the bay, this is where I go in peace.  Actually there is a chapel here since Richard II, duke of Normandy in 1023AD . You can see the bells of the pilgrimage done every pentecost day, this year 2011 will be the 150th celebration ,call the “Fête des Marins” I will be there. You climb the hill on foot to the chapel and a great town service is done. Some of the previus visitors here included,  Samuel De Champlain, Pierre Berthelot, Louis XIII, Napoleon Bonaparte, and, Thérèse de Lisieux . The boats go out to see lay wreath of flowers to the fallen,those from the wars,and those who wish to be there. At the end of the city towards direction Trouville, you find the Jardin Public and the Jardin des personalités, a nice garden overlooking the garden and with sculpture bust of famous citizens of the city mostly painters. There is a garden event every year here, “Passionnement Jardin”. This year is in April 16-17, and we will be there too ::) the special webpage for the garden events is here in French, http://www.passionnementjardin.fr/ . The Hôtel de Ville by the pleasure harbor at Place Artur Boudin, around the quartier of enclos or enclosure neighborhood as protection against invading English. The Lieutenance, by the pleasure harbor, called because from the 17C it house the lieutenant of the king that keeps guard on the harbor, and a piece of the Porte de Caen 15C guarding the old entrance to the city.

Over the Côte de Grâce, a steep climb of about 7% inclination, you arrive at the chapel of Notre Dame de Grâce, you bear left on a trail behind it , and follow the woods ,see the panels that says ” Mont Joli” or beautiful view; you will have a wonderful view of the valley of the Seine, the city ,and the Pont de Normandie. There is a nice butterfly museum with tropical plants just outside the city but doable walkable towards Trouville. its call Naturospace, its like been in the tropics, and great with children. webpage http://www.naturospace.com/web/index.php

You have a fishing port in the front bay towards the sea,with about 40 boats catching shrimp gray and st jacques in each season,  and a pleasure boat marina in the inner bay towards the sea; surrounded by houses from the 17-18C, I give the official port webpage if in case you are a boater, is in French but if communication is needed they will have English speaking personnel all the time,  http://www.cnh-honfleur.net/. You,also, have the Port d’Escales et vieux Greements, an old shipyard keeping alive the seamen traditions ,you can see the Marie-Magdelene (1934) , Dehel (1931), Sainte Bernadette a shrimp boat from the city a national monument status, Sheena, a sailboat from 1916; and others, the place has its own webpage in French here http://www.vieuxgreements.fr/. The maritime port welcoming cruise ships for the last several years, about 20-30 stops are done each year. Finally, the commercial port, with shipbuilding facilities divided into three basins, such as the Bassin de l’Ouest or Vieux-Bassin, Bassin de l’Est or Bassin de la République built in 1840 and the Bassin Carnot ,bigger and built in 1862.

You,also, have a beach with a Pavillon Bleu distinction in France, that is very safe to swim here! in season of course ::). This is the beach at Butin, coming along the coast into the city, then there is the beach at Vasouey coming from Trouville.

For shopping antiques the best is Agora, 22 rue Montensier, place Thiers, and webpage http://www.agora-honfleur.com/. For the best in Cider,Calvados , Pommeau and local liquors my shop is A la Cave Normande, rue de la ville, webpage http://www.lacavenormande.com/ ; galleries of arts are many, so many good ones, I guess just to name a couple would be galerie du Dauphin (or bartoux), webpage http://www.galeries-bartoux.com/ ,and Galerie Danielle Bourdette, webpage ,http://www.galeriedaniellebourdette.com/, so many good ones thus.  For food there is a small grocery store at 8 place St Leonard near the church, same name. also, a Casino supermarket at Quai Lepaulmier,just behind the parking at the port harbor behind the hotel de ville building area.

For a nice boat  ride in the inner harbor try the Calypso, info webpage here http://www.joliefrance-calypso.com/. For a bit more into the ocean try l’Evasion right by the Foncia real estate office before reaching the jardin public site on the outer harbor.  For hotels well live nearby not too much usage but have try the Campanile and the Mercure in city as I can get points in France. However, the choices are endless, and nice properties are Le Manoir de Butin,La Maison de Lucie,La Ferme St Simeon,and Les Maisons de Lea. In addition to the economical Kyriads, Ibis, and Etaps chain hotels.

For eating, the ideal is the boat pleasure boat inner basin area, for the people watching ,however, the city has an excellent range of restos that has never disappointed us. Our favorites are Au Bouillon Normand, rue de la ville, webpage http://www.aubouillonnormand.fr/ , laidback normand regional cuisine.  Brasserie du Port, 6 rue Ville, by the harbor pleasure boat marina on the side of the carrousel, corner, cant missed great, no web, tel + 33 02 31 89 43 44, and great local chow as well, pizzas too. La Cidrerie, 26 place Hamelin, no web, Tel + 33 02 31 89 59 85 , great simple meals around the Normand Cider. just going over to the church Sainte Catherine turn right on the little street ,rue Haute. Le Bréard, rue des Puits, very traditional French ,gastronomic, webpage http://www.restaurant-lebreard.com/ .  and the Sa.Qua.Na , a gourmand cuisine, webpage http://www.alexandre-bourdas.com/ . Then there are several pizzzerias like Il Parasole, 2 rue Haute near harbor, sandwich and ice cream parlors, and the jazz bar by the harbor ,La Taverne du Perroquet Vert, webpage http://www.bar-perroquet-vert-honfleur.com/

Some webpage for the tourist office of Honfleur, http://www.ot-honfleur.fr/

and the city of Honfleur webpage http://www.ville-honfleur.fr/. Come to smell the sea breezes and stay for a life time,and for some even beyond. Cheers.

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