Why You Need To Visit Honfleur, France!

Honfleur Normandy, France. (Hornfleur)

Honfleur France – Stick It On Your Bucket List!

On our recent road trip from the UK to Portugal, we made our first overnight stop at Honfleur, Normandy. It was the first place we visited and it was the most lasting memory I had at the end of our 3-week epic journey!

Inspired by another travel bloggers photo’s I was a little worried that I’d built it up too much in my mind and that disappointment was imminent but I needn’t have worried. A visit to Honfleur was everything and more than I had imagined it to be, a fascinating place with famous connections when you look into it’s past. Plus, a fab opportunity to take photographs and eat a few macaroons on your way around!

A Bit About Honfleur, France

Honfleur is an old French harbour town on the north coast of Normandy with a rich history of Royal conquests, interesting Naval expeditions and several trading businesses (including the slave trade). This little town reminded me of the stage set for the musical Les Miserables or some black-and-white Pirate film. It’s truly beautiful and thankfully one of those places that tourism hasn’t managed to murder, despite it attracting masses of visitors every year.

The star of the show is the Vieux Bassin, the old harbour that is neatly hugged by towering 16-18th century houses. The buildings are mostly half-timbered and protectively wrapped in a distinct blue/grey tile like an architectural armadillo.

And, when you penetrate the armour into the cobbled streets behind, you’re just swapping one kind of good view for another. Rows upon rows of quaint little shops whose keepers recognise the notion that we shoppers buy with our eyes: the signwriting is beautiful, the glasswork is beautiful and the displays inside are so attractive that before you know it you’re in there drooling over the produce. Chocolate shops, patisseries and delicatessens are all vying for your attention, and they’re going to get it!

Honfleur, France is one of those magical places that implores you to linger a while, peruse its innards and people-watch from a cafe chair on the harbour. In the meantime, here are a few of our holiday snaps and a list of ten interesting bits of trivia about this wonderful place called Honfleur…

Honfleur, France is a fascinating place with some random facts tucked into it's historical stories, read on if you would like to know more information about this amazing place and some fun facts for kids too.

Ten Fascinating Facts And Things To Do In Honfleur, France…

I love researching a place before I get there and whilst looking for things to do and interesting tidbits of information I discovered some pretty random stuff about this place, quirky and cool ex-inhabitants and plenty of stories, let me share a few of them with you!

  • Honfleur attracts 3 million visitors a year making it France’s 3rd most popular place to visit.
  • You may recognise it even before you visit as it was painted by many impressionists including Monet and Cezanne after  Honfleur’s very own Eugène Boudin taught many an art student how to paint outdoors and capture the essence of water.
  • Honfleur hasn’t always been French. First, the Scandinavian Vikings moved in, then on a couple of occasions in the Hundred Years War between France and England, it was taken and occupied by the English.
  • In 1608, an expedition left Honfleur to colonise Canada organised by Samuel de Champlain led to the founding of the Canadian city Quebec.
  • Honfleur is home to the largest wooden church in France – St Catherines.
  • St Catherines Church was built by the ship-makers of the town and looks like an upside-down hull of a ship. It was built by the ‘axe masters’ of the Naval yards using no saws, just axes!There are some important facts about the Honfleur church here in Normandy, interesting things about how it was built and some random stories about a famous artist who was from here.
  • Maison du Caramel, a little 17th-century shop behind the port, makes and sells 17 different flavours of caramel. 17!
  • The narrow houses that shoulder one another in the Vieux Bassin have two ground floors : one that opens up to the port side, the other at the back, several storeys up, which opens onto Dauphin Street. This means each building has two owners!
  • Some of the first dinosaur fossils ever found were here in Honfleur and one particular species was named the Honfleur Crocodile after several fossils were discovered on the beach here about 1770.
  • At the ‘Fete de la Crevette’ (shrimp festival) in early October, nobody wanted to get their hands dirty so the organisers came up with the ingenious idea of a ‘shrimp peeling competition’ so that the festival-goers wouldn’t go hungry! The winner gets to keep his peeled shrimps.
Honfleur Normandy is famous for it's art because of the fascinating connections with interesting artists, the back streets are fascinating! Roam around to learn some fun facts about Honfleur and amazing sights.
Are you wondering where the best place to stay is in Honfleur, France? How about the house where Monet stayed when he was painting this beautiful harbour town in Normandy? Honfleur tourism

Useful Information;

The town has a vibrant market every Saturday.

It’s only a 2 hour journey from Paris and attracts a few day trippers.

Where To Stay In Honfleur;

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit special then check out the Honfleur hotel La Ferme Saint Simeon. In bygone days, when the 19th-century property was still a working farm, the artist Boudin had his studio here and entertained other artists of the Impressionist school, including Monet and Corot. This Honfleur hotel is an inn with 34 luxury rooms, scattered around the estate and you can even stay in the room Monet himself stayed. Oak panelling, antique furniture and a luxury modern touch. The hotel also boasts a large spa, indoor swimming pool and a distinguished restaurant. Definitely the location if you want to soak up a bit of Honfleurs cultural history.

Or for more options for hotels in Honfleur, click here.

Pin For Later…

All the background info you need for a visit to Honfleur France. All the things to see and places worth visiting on a day trip.#Honfleur #France

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh my, I think I may have discovered what I want to do for our next holiday. I really fancy the idea of packing-up the car and driving ourselves round so that we can stumble upon little gems like this. What a stunning place and interesting too! You found out some fab facts. In all honesty you have inspired me! 🙂

    1. Alex says:

      Well that makes me soooo happy and totally the reason I started blogging! Honestly Emma that area is gorgeous!!!! I would happily spend a week or more exploring Normandy and Britanny. If you do decide to go ahead let me know and I’ll eat mark a couple of other cool spots for you.

  2. Wow – before Claire I had never heard of Honfleur! I had no idea it was the third most visited place in France – I would have never guessed! Thank you for sharing YOUR perspective – as always it is lovely and charming to read your amusing writing! Great tips to boot. #FarawayFiles

    1. Alex says:

      Thanks Erin. I couldn’t believe that either about being the 3rd most visited.

  3. Looks like a gorgeous place to visit! #FarawayFiles

  4. As I started reading this I thought, ooh I remember when Clare from Suitcases and Sandcastles went here! Glad she inspired you.
    Interesting that there is some Scandinavian influence as the harbour reminds me of Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

    1. Alex says:

      Yes it was similar to nyhavn, it’s those vikings – they got everywhere! 😉

  5. We go to France regularly to spend our holidays at our home in Cotes d’Amor and have bypassed this town so far, so on opening and reading your lovely post I turned to my husband (who is working away on the desk beside me in our office) and just said “next time we go to the house we’re going to Honfleur”. Luckily he pipped back quickly “okay” because I was ready for a fight – I was going to get him to say yes regardless!

    1. Alex says:

      Lol!!! Well, enjoy!

  6. I have wanted to visit this place because the photos of it are stunning. However, I like the facts you have written in here. I would like to learn more about the excursion that departed to Canada and the VIking past. #FarawayFiles

    1. Alex says:

      Yes, it is pretty interesting. There were a few other facts too but you can’t write everything!

  7. The only thing I ever knew about Honfleur was through a Victor Hugo poem I was made to learn off by heart in school. But now I want to visit! We travel through Normandy every summer on our way to our house in Auvergne, but I never thought of checking it out. Thanks for sharing all those weird and wonderful facts!

    1. Alex says:

      I read that poem when I was researching. You should so visit – you won’t be disappointed!

    2. How is it that we go through this region and haven’t been there yet 🙂 I am definately visiting on my next trip and it sounds like you are too. Annette @ A French Collection

      1. Alex says:

        Oh yes, we’ll be back – I want to go to the nearby town of Deuville too.

  8. You’ve uncovered such great facts, Alex. I’m so happy you loved Honfleur as much as we did. It’s such a beautiful place. Thank you so much for the shout out too! Fabulous share for #FarawayFiles

    1. Alex says:

      Oo that reminds me – I was supposed to put a link to you on it! I’ll do that later. I’m so glad I read your article!

  9. Amazing facts! I desperately want to visit Honfleur as I LOOOVE half-timbered buildings and this town has come highly recommended to me! I didn’t know it was the 3rd most popular town though! #FarawayFiles

    1. Alex says:

      I know, that surprised me too!

  10. Jurga says:

    We’ve been to Honfleur several times and I never knew most of the facts you described here, Alex. Such a beautiful place, but I have a feeling that it’s starting to suffer from so many visitors…

    1. Alex says:

      It was actually really chilled and relatively empty when we were there so hopefully not.

  11. Jane Taylor says:

    Sounds wonderful. We love France. I love that you tell us where to go and stay and give us little insider tips. It’d take me ages to discover all this for myself! You are like a travel version of Mr Muscle…Does the jobs I hate (ie. Researching places to go and stay).

    1. Alex says:

      ???mr muscle!!!!

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