It’s hard to think you’re not on a film set walking around Honfleur in Normandy. I think it’s a romantic town, great for couples to explore art galleries, jewellery shops, walk arm in arm along dreamy old streets or sit by the harbour sipping coffee while people watching. But it also is a fun place to visit for families. There are loads of activities around the town for younger members. But, in this post I’m concentrating on what to see on a walk in Honfleur.
We have been many times, this particular trip is during winter. It is the perfect weekend getaway any time of year, especially from England. It’s just 15 minutes drive from the Le Havre ferries or 3 hours from the Eurotunnel. Yet it is full of cobbled streets and tall wooden 17th century houses! Whatever way you get there you have to pass the modern industrial low lights of the ferry port area before crossing La Seine into another more timeless world.
There’s several large open air car parks near the harbour, which is precisely where you want to be. Then zip up your coat and remove your camera lens cap, when you are walking around Honfleur you can hardly point the camera in the wrong direction!
Comfy shoes are key when visiting Honfleur, even wedges can be tricky. Cobbles are everywhere. There are romantic but a nuisance in the wrong shoes!
There are several museums in Honfleur. This is just off the harbour and a good excuse to get out the cold. But you’ll find historic buildings remain unspoiled in the area around the harbour.
These ancient streets are have such a romantic feel to me and you see lots of couples arm in arm.
I do love an old dangly sign! Art is a big thing here in Honfleur and it’s full of art galleries. Hardly surprising when it must have been inspiring artists for 100s of years. Slightly surprising to me is that modern art is very much a thing here too.
A view of the harbour from a side street. The harbour is full of cafès and restaurants as well as art galleries. The standard generally goes from good to pretty good along the harbour front, but very good to excellent a street or two away. I’ve written 2 guides on food in Honfleur: Feasting In Honfleur and Brunch, Lunch, Munch In Normandy.
View of the north side, the Quai Sainte Catherine, with it’s tall thin wooden buildings (once houses) dating back to the 1600’s. Now they are almost entirely cafés and restaurants.
It’s hypnotic staring at the water. It’s a lovely place to sit for a bit and watch the sea birds. There are a few low concrete walls you can park yourself on.
Stone buildings of the south side which is called the Quai Saint-Etienne, after the church there.
The back of my favourite tea room in Honfleur. It’s a China meets Normandy affair hinting perhaps to a time when Merchant boats would bring in tea from China into the harbour. They also do the best hot chocolate ever – its thick and deeply rich.
At the front of the tea room, tea cups, pots and other tea related products are prettily displayed.
It’s a perfect spot to rest and warm when you’re feeling a bit cold and hungry. Head into the right side door which takes you straight into the tearoom (rather than the store).
They sell French patisserie, but this is the counter I gravitate towards. I never could resist a fruit crumble and theirs is hard to beat. It’s heavy on the fruit but the flavours are incredible.
The owner warms it up and I chose vanilla cream on the side. For me, this is worth the trip alone, but as I say, I really do love a fruit crumble and this one is perfection.
Nicely warmed through we explore more of the streets.
This is an artist at the door of his gallery. He’s having a break and joins his little Westie who is often seen sitting at the door people watching.
I love dogs even more than crumble and can’t resist saying hello.
It’s obviously a thing for artists and other shop owners to have their dogs with them at work here in Honfleur. They seem perfectly happy to sit and watch the world go by.
The clock tower sits opposite the entrance to the Sainte-Catherine church. It’s the largest church made out of wood in France. There are a lot of slate covered roofs here.
I’m told it used to wobble, which would explain the extra support!
The streets are narrow and the buildings tall and beautifully worn. It gives a a cozy charm. The shops are stuffed full of local produce, art and crafts and there are plenty of restaurants to check out as you wander by. If you love Calvados you will be in 7th heaven. The have a lot of shops selling local produce for tourists, but they are generally very lovely to explore and the local foods are heavenly – Foods Of Normandy.
The side alleys are exceptionally narrow!
These beautiful turrets form the top part of the gate of the city and is part of the fortifications attached to the 18th century lieutenancy building (la Lieutenance) which is at the entrance to the old harbour. and the former home of the Governor of Honfleur.
The northern side is the best place to sit and people watch. There are lots of of activity as groups and couples take photos of the boats and selfies.
It’s a good place to rest for a while. Some allow you to sit and just drink but others you have to order food. This time of year (winter) many have their plastic protection from the weather but we found one without.
Gazing through the masts and ropes of the boats…
A another view of the north side.
Their saturday morning market is wonderful and I found it rather brilliant watching the French boldly sniff and taste their way through the produce. This man took selling his bread very personally and when later we brought bread from him told us if we wrapped it in plastic (god forbid) the bread would tell him. There’s passion for you.
This French lady’s glove is off – she means to get in there. The fruit and veg is usually of a high standard and we enjoy buying from the market.
My husband and son loving every minute with the butcher. It was beef bourguignon that night. They are used to tourists in the town and are quietly tolerant of non French speakers.
If you return to town after dark the scene has changes completely. It’s a very quiet town with very few bars.
What a beauty…