Honfleur is a beautiful and famous city on the English Channel. This city is among the best cities to visit in France. Our visit to Honfleur was part of our Northern France road trip last Summer. The small city has a beautiful port, old town, delicious seafood and the oldest wooden church in France to offer. Making it a must-visit place and clear why it’s so popular among tourists in France. When asking yourself where is Honfleur in France? And is Honfleur in Normandy? Yes, Honfleur is in Normandy, it’s located on the banks of the Seine, across from Le Havre. The city is situated near where the Seine streams in the English Channel. It’s in the Calvados region in Normandy in North Western France to be exact. It’s a perfect stop on any road trip.
Top Things to do in Honfleur
Although the city can’t be considered super large it has plenty to offer to visitors. Do however expect large crowds of tourists when visiting Honfleur.
1. The Port
The old harbor of Honfleur has beautiful old buildings lining the water front. You want to keep on photographing it and it and just sitting there and mesmerizing while taking in the view. The old harbor is very picturesque. The houses surrounding Le Vieux Bassin are very colorful, narrow and high. The façades of the houses are covered in shingles. On the water boats dock the shore, among them yachts but also old fishing boats.
There’s also a marina which has many impressive ships in it, such as the Sainte-Bernadette. It’s a historical monument, which is open to visits.
Another building in the port that immediately draws your attention is La Lieutenance. It’s attached is uniquely shaped and used to house the luitenant to the King in the 16th century.
The history of Honfleur goes back all the way to the 11th century. It’s position on the river mouth of the Seine gave the city a strategic important position.
2. Boat Tour
From the port of Honfleur you can take boat tours on the river Seine. We did a 1.5 hour tour on board of La Jolie France. There’s live commentary in French by the Captain. You can get a translation on paper in several languages. I had one in Dutch. The tour takes place on the Seine estuary and has several passages under the Pont de Normandie.
From the deck you have perfect views on the old harbor of the city and you can take in the port in all its glory.
3. L’Église Sainte-Catherine
The Sainte-Catherine church is the oldest and highest wooden church in France. The church was build in the 15th century and has a façade of chestnut brown shingles. The church is impressive to see from the outside, dominating the Place Sainte-Catherine. The bell tower is separate from the main building of the church. You can walk around the church on the square and admire the church from the inside. Finding a more unique church than this one in France will be difficult. The inside has a half round ceiling constructed out of wood. The church is dedicated to the marine. So you’ll see ship models and saints dedicated to fishing on display.
The city attracts a lot of artists and this shows in its gardens. There are two gardens worth your time, namely the Naturospace Honfleur and Les Jardin des Personnalités. The Naturospace is the largest butterfly house in all of France. The Jardin des Personnalités has statues of famous persons dotted around in a beautifully landscaped garden on the banks of the Seine. You can enjoy this garden on a hike along the Seine.
5. Beautiful Old Town
The city’s old town is not just the beautiful harbor and the wooden church. There’s more, there are narrow cobblestone streets to wander through. There are numerous historical buildings, churches and art lining these streets. There are many terraces, cute shops and art studio’s in the streets of Honfleur. The Place Sainte-Catherine is a good starting point to wander these streets. The buildings have beautiful façades. Artists have always loved the city. The way the light falls is considered beautiful and has inspired many artists. Especially impressionist artists, such as Monet, Courbet and Boudin took their inspiration from the port city. Till this day there are artists working in the city painting the old harbor or other old buildings. There are numerous art galleries and studio’s to be found inside the city. Art pieces are also standing throughout the city, catching the attention of by passers.
There are many restaurants in this beautiful city and they either have seafood on the menu or crêpes. The fish and other seafood served in the restaurants is being caught close by and served fresh on the tables. So sit down at one of the many restaurants and order a menu du chef, with local dishes with lots of seafood.
The city has several interesting museums. Musée Eugène-Boudin is one of its most popular museums. Eugèned Boudin and Alexandre Dubourg founded this museum to display works of art of the city.
Second there’s the L’Église Sainte-Etiennne houses the Musée de la Marine. The church dates from the 14th century and houses the maritime history of Honfleur.
Where to Stay
Honfleur France has many hotels, bed and breakfasts and apartments to choose from. Check out Hotel Eden Span, Studio et appartements Sainte Catherine or Mansion Victorine.
There are also a lot of suitable hotels near Honfleur France, such as in Le Havre, which is on the opposite side of the river Seine.
We stayed at Eden Park Hotel Restaurant in Pont-L’Évêque, which is about 25 minutes by car.
Where to Eat
As you could read in the seafood chapter above, there’s ample choice in Honfleur restaurants to choose from. Ranging in price from cheap to very expensive. Most restaurants either serve crêpes or French local cuisine with a lot of seafood on the menu.
We sat down at Le Crystal, which serves French cuisine. We had a 3-course meal here with delicious food.
When to Visit
The city can be visited year round. Do keep in mind that the city is famous and immensely popular. Especially in the Summer the city will be crowded. Expect huge crowds especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Summers are comfortable with temperatures ranging from an average low of 12°C/54°F to an average high of 21°C/71°F. Rainfall is about 35.56 mm/1.4 inches in August, the month with the least rainfall. It’s partly cloudy year round.
The Winters however are long, cold and windy. Temperatures range from an average low of 3°C/38°F to an average high of 10°C/51°F. Rainfall is about 66.04 mm/2.6 inches in December, the month with the most rainfall.
Best time to visit weather wise would be from June to September, crowd wise it would be May, June or September.
How to Visit
Recommended is a visit of 1 to 3 days. With half a day you can do a boat tour, wander around the old harbor, visit the wooden church and have lunch. When you want to see more of the old town, visit the gardens, museums and art galleries you’ll need more time.
The city can be reached by car and public transit. By car you need to take exit 3 (Le Mans/Honfleur) on the A29/E44. Then the last part is on the D580. There are several parking places in the city. We parked on parking Bassin du Centre, not cheap, but near the harbor.
Public transit options are the bus. There’s no train station.
Airports + Car Rental
The closest international airport is Deauville- Saint-Gatien Airport is 11 kilometers/7 miles away, Beauvais-Tillé Airport is 198 kilometers/123 miles away and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport is 219 kilometers/136 miles away.
In the Area
Besides in the city itself, there’s plenty of things to do nearby. There are many beaches on the coast, Le Havre is worth a visit, with its beaches and museums. Étretat is famous for its white cliffs. Rouen has a cathedral and old town full of history.
That’s All About Honfleur
So go on and plan a visit to this beautiful port city.
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