The ocean is Honfleur!!!

Well, if you have been reading my blog and thank you for it doing it since Nov 2010; then you know my sentimental attachment to Honfleur. A city gear to the ocean and fishing and with several posts in my blog, this one is an overall small rendition to the ocean sea traditions of Honfleur. Hope you enjoy it as I.

I have come to realize long ago that even if the beach is not the best, the ocean, water is all around Honfleur and an integral part of its attraction. There is nothing better than walking ,eating or playing knowing you have the ocean next to you. This Honfleur has plenty and we love it! As said, I have several posts on Honfleur here , covering several years, therefore no need to tell you about the history of the place, it has been mentioned plenty already. I like to give you a bit on the ocean side of my special HONFLEUR.

I will first tell you a bit from the city on the old basin or Vieux Bassin the ones we all go to as soon as arriving in Honfleur.  The paddock harbor , called Havre Neuf until the construction of the Central basin. It then becomes Western Basin or old basin (Vieux Basin in French). In the inside of the fortified enclosure was the port, consisting of a stranded haven of 120 meters in length and 50 meters in width, which communicated with the sea by a ship lock, wide of 15 to 20 meters and located roughly on the site of the levy of the Western Basin(Bassin de l’ouest). This harbor of stranding, at the bottom of which the standing water resulted by means of locks located at the site occupied today by the Petite Poissonnerie shop, was bordered, on the west side, by a narrow wharf and by houses; beyond these houses, the fortified enclosure was on the very site where we now see the wall of the Saint Catherine Wharf. (Quai Sainte Catherine).


Two towers dominated and defended the entrance to the inner harbor. It is in this basin so small, which barely had a surface equal to half of the smallest of the current basins, that the Honfleur sailors were arming their ships, in quite a large number at a time, for Newfoundland ,Canada, for the East Indies and the coast of Guinea, finally for the race and for these warlike expeditions in which their pavilion was honored as  Colbert sent Duquesne to this port to examine what improvements he was likely to have. The demolition of the fortifications was decided, dominated by the neighboring hillsides of the city and outside to withstand the artillery of the time; the Bourbon bastion (or barre) and the largest part of the enclosure on the western side were razed; The houses to the west of the port ,the quai Sainte Catherine were expropriated and, in 1684 – 1690, wharf walls were built, a hunting lock established at the bottom of the basin, the jetty of the lieutenancy repaired. The work was completed in 1690.  The wall of the quai Saint Catherine  was redone in 1791 – 1794. The wall of the Quai Saint Etienne from 1811 to 1813, when the demolition of the old wall, dating back to the reign of Louis XIV, was deemed indispensable. This ancient wall, of which there remains vestiges beneath the embankments of the Quai Saint Etienne, was two or three meters behind the wall of the wharf by which it was replaced. It can shelter from 1668 vessels from 3 to 400 tons. In the 18C, the vieux bassin (old basin) was reserved for coasters and armaments for fishing. Samuel de Champlain, Jean Denis or even Binot Paulmier de Gonneville  embark from these docks for great expeditions to the New World.



The old basin or vieux basin now hosts many pleasure craft. Honfleur is a port of call for boaters going up the Seine in the direction of Paris. The quays in the Seine are host to many cruise ships. The inland port allows to receive during the season of the river cruisers with Honfleur offering the possibility to receive 5 steamers simultaneously. Fishing: About fifteen trawlers practice artisanal fishing in Honfleur. The grey shrimp “the little Grey” is very popular here and is still caught by some boats. The St Jacques clam shells of the Seine Bay occupies part of the fleet from October to the end of May, depending on the harvest resources. You will, also find the Sole and various fish dishes according to the seasons that can be bought at the bottom of the trawler or fish market.  



Honfleur tourist office on fishing trips and cruises in English:

And to know the marine forecast meteoconsult for Honfleur which I follow too; webpage:

The Butin beach is already a Blue Pavilion (means is tops ) since 2009. The Butin beach is equipped with sanitary facilities, beach cabins, showers, a paddling pool, a playground and a snack bar. Since 2017, a minibus does the transfer between the car park and the city center, see the timetables at the bus station at rue des vases. The Pavillon Blue award webpage:

And my fav beach webpage Plages TV on the plage Butin of Honfleur:


And one organization that is dear to me. Very much on the sea saving lives and helping those wishing a final rest at sea.  The SNSM =société nationale de sauvetage en mer or in EnglishNational Marine Rescue Society,their history there a bit I like.  It is necessary to go back to 1848 to find the first bases of a real sea rescue organization in Honfleur, i.e. at the time of the creation of the Chamber of Commerce. The sinking of an English brig, the “Endearvour”, in 1857, in front of the port of Honfleur, proving the urgency of a better organization and, by decree dated August 12, 1857, the Emperor Napoleon III created the rescue station which he entrusted the management to the Chamber of Commerce.  In 1865 the Central Rescue Society of Shipwrecks was created in 1884, the Count of Châteauvillard, bequested to the Central Rescue Society, so that Honfleur could be endowed with a lifeboat, the rowing boat ” Châteauvillard “commissioned in 1885. In 1907, Mrs. and Ms. Augustin-Normand, ship builders in Le Havre but whose family was of Honfleur origin, offered a lifeboat to Honfleur. It was named “Jacques Augustin-Normand”. Baptized at Le Havre in 1908. By 1926, the inauguration of the new station, the shelter, and the new lifeboat “Alphonsine-Émilie”.

After  WWII, the Honfleur flotilla, largely destroyed by the nazis, had gradually been replaced and a new lifeboat was awarded to Honfleur by the Central Rescue Company, the “Fernand de Wegmann”.  The lifeboat “Fernand de Wegmann” was first modernised in 1973 in Cherbourg and then in 1984 in Honfleur. In 1986, the station was provisionally equipped with a second-class star, the “Robert-Edmond de Bassac”. In March 1988, the “Patrons Dubarre et Corvic” modernized in Saint Malo, joins the station of Honfleur.    In 1990, with the help of generous donors, the National Marine Rescue Society puts into service in Honfleur, a Zodiac MK III GR Inflatable boat, equipped with a 40 hp engine. Since 1994, the station has a first class vedette “Notre Dame du Port” (our sentimental boat and we are donors here) In April 2013, the vedette boat is equipped with two new more modern engines. A new Zodiac comes in 2013 to reinforce the means of the station at Honfleur.


The Honfleur SNSM webpage:

And the same SNSM webpage with a map locator of all their stations in France:

A wonderful sea town which we love very much. Always friendly people , good family fun, beautiful architecture and rich history as well as great artists of always; makes Honfleur the second most visited place in all Normandie!!

The city of Honfleur on things to see/do:

The Honfleur tourist office in English:

And there you go folks, another dandy beautiful place in my belle France. Honfleur is a must visit especially if heading to Normandy. Hope you enjoy it as much as me writing the post, always special Honfleur.

And remember, happy travels,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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