Honfleur

ancient harbour on the
Normandy coast of France

Honfleur is a pretty town in Normandy, lying close to the sea on the southern bank of the estuary of the River Seine, in a coastline known as la cote de grace.
The town is centred around an old inner port, or harbour basin, built in the 17th Century and today used mainly as a marina for small pleasure boats. The basin and the tall, picturesque buildings that surround it have been little changed over the centuries - Honfleur escaped any significant damage during World War II.

Much of the history of Honfleur is founded upon the sea, both as a base for the fishing industry (some of which survives) and as a trading port. It was once one of the major French ports involved in the slave trade, and has been the starting point for expeditions of discovery (Samuel Champlain, the founder of Quebec, sailed from here).

For many years Honfleur has been popular with artists. Painters such as Monet and Boudin were drawn by the scenery and coastline. The composer Erik Satie was born here.

Today Honfleur is popular with visitors, especially the English, and there are plenty of things to see and do during a short stay. There are numerous restaurants and cafés with an emphasis on fish and seafood. Artists studios and galleries are to be found almost everywhere in and around the maze of narrow streets that surround the old harbour.

At Equemauville, overlooking the town, is a fine church with good views across the estuary towards Le Havre. Back at sea level there is an interesting park - le jardin des personnalités - along the shoreline where busts of those important to Honfleur in the past are placed within the gardens, with the estuary as a backdrop.
The magnificent Pont de Normandie, the longest cable stayed bridge in the world when built in 1995, can be seen in the distance.