Located on the east bank of the Seine estuary, Honfleur is a small harbor town in front of Le Havre. You can easily access it via public transport by lines 20, 39 or 50 of the green buses of Calvados.
History of Honfleur
"Fleur" would have meant "watercourse", and "hon" means "corner" or "angle": this place served first of all as a refuge for fishermen. The history of Honfleur goes back to the beginning of the 11th century in 1027. The city then had a vital function in the transit of goods from Rouen to England. Its geographical position in relation to the Seine made it a strategic place, which earned it a role in the Hundred Years War. Indeed, to bar the English - as well as enemy ships - access to the estuary of the Seine, King Charles V fortifies the village. This did not however prevent the English from taking the Norman port in 1357, then from 1419 to 1450.
The strength of the municipality lies in its port. Honfleur grows enormously on the naval level: constructions, expeditions and maritime trade thanks to the products of the sea and the salt. These activities are developing strongly making the city one of the first French ports going to the Americas and some French colonies. It is from the port of Honfleur that expeditions led to the discovery of Labrador and Newfoundland in 1506, the founding of Quebec City in 1608. The city then enters into relations with Canada, Louisiana , the West Indies, the Azores as well as the African coasts. Honfleur shines among its contemporaries thanks to the exchanges it maintains with these relations. The fortifications erected under the command of Charles V are then demolished under the orders of Colbert to enlarge the port and transform it into a flourishing basin, still named today the Old Basin.
However, this boom will not last, because several events will bring down the port of Honfleur. First there will be the loss of the French colonies of America. Then, the port of Le Havre - remember it is right in front - it too has developed strongly, becoming a major competitor. The French Revolution and the War of the First Empire similarly participated in the decline of the one that was one of the main slave ports of France. Later, the lumber trade modestly restored to Honfleur some of its former power, allowing it to function today by resuming its original purpose, which was to be the port of Rouen. Our destination is mainly from the airport to the hotel, however you can ask us to take you around the mythical places of Honfleur.
Since the end of maritime expeditions and wars, Honfleur has become a place with a calm atmosphere, conducive to art. Natural light at the port attracts many painters, and has been for a long time. Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet, Alphonse Allay or Raoul Dufy have taken inspiration from the picturesque landscape of the port to realize many of their masterpieces. And still today, half-timbered houses, old streets, as well as the Old Basin are still fascinating new generation artists, encouraging them to deploy their easel in the street itself. Besides painters, poets and writers also meet there. In the alleys that run along the harbor, many art galleries abound. This proves that art held and still holds Honfleur an important place.
Fishing was one of the pillars of the port of Honfleur. Even today, Honfleur crabs are very active. They form a team of three men, each with a specific role in the preparation of the cod. First there is the tester: he cuts off the heads, opens the fish in two, pulls out his liver. Then he passes the cod to a dresser who will slice it. This one will give it to a salt, the fish is ready to be preserved. Their work at the chain is fascinating and despite the ardor and time it takes - about 18 hours a day, they put all their heart to remind passers-by the place that had once cod. A car service always on time is offered for you to discover Honfleur.
What to visit in Honfleur?
Honfleur was spared between 1939 and 1945. It is therefore among the Norman cities that were not destroyed during the Second World War. Fortunately, because it has at least fifty historical monuments that will surprise you. Honfleur also contains places of recent tourist interest that are not to be missed.
St. Catherine's Church
Main attraction of the town, this church stands out for its frame made entirely of wood, its separate steeple made of oak wood and its double hull form of overturned boat. Here again, we find how much the shipbuilding of Honfleur was advanced and its talented workers. It was built almost five centuries ago to replace a stone church that was demolished during the Hundred Years War. The Sainte-Catherine church is the largest wooden church in France.
The Old Basin
Built in 1681, the Old Basin is the result of the destruction of part of the ramparts of the port of Honfleur which served to protect the city against its pillagers, the Vikings or the English. Today, especially at dusk, the view given by the old houses with narrow façades and slate roofs that run along it is a real poetic scene, a unique background for photographers and painters.
Our Lady of Grace
The Duke of Normandy built a chapel on the hill overlooking Honfleur to give thanks for not having died in a storm. This one was destroyed in a landslide, another was thus erected to replace it. Today, this chapel houses models of boats, paintings and an old organ. During the feast of the seamen of Honfleur, around Pentecost, the children Honfleurais disguised as a sailor go up to the chapel to deposit miniature ship for Our Lady of Grace.
The Garden of Personalities
The Garden of Personalities a large cultural space between the Old Basin and the dike in 2004. Busts of personalities who were born, have stayed or have marked the history of Honfleur are distributed in the garden, cleverly placed in hedges cut in the shape of a boat. Among them, you can meet the busts of Charles Baudelaire, Claude Monet and Eugene Boudin, Jean-Baptiste Colbert or Charles V.
Today, Honfleur is a popular seaside resort. Butin Beach attracts every year several tourists come to rest on the Normandy coast. Shower cabins, cloakrooms, aquatic equipment for rent, the beach of Butin has everything to remember the atmosphere caliente of the South and give holidaymakers all the leisure to relax under the sun. Providing a day rental service is our specialty, do not hesitate to contact us if you want to enjoy your stay.
Guided tours in limousine with driver in Honfleur
Honfleur is in the department of Calvados. For your information, it is 94.7 km from the Museum of the Battle of Normandy and 91.8 km from the Bayeux Tapestry Museum. The city is 214.7 km from CDG Airport and 208.9 km from Orly Airport.