Honfleur is a village of Calvados department, in Normandy region. It expanded on the right side of the river Seine’s estuary and faces Le Havre. The town is famous for its old harbour, the slated front of its houses and for l’Ecole de Honfleur: it was an artistic movement formed by artists such as Gustave Courbet, Eugene Boudin or Claude Monet which participated in the creation of Impressionism. Honfleur was granted a 4 “flowers” label in the “Concours des villes et villages fleuris”, a competition that rewards the green and flowery cities and villages of France.
By car, Honfleur can be reached via the A13, exit Beuzeville, then N13 road, and via the A29 mortorway, exit Honfleur.
The closest airport is Deauville Saint Gatien (10km).
As for railway services, there is a line from Paris Gare Saint Lazare to either Deauville/Trouville or Lisieux or Pont l’Eveque. Then, the Bus Verts du Calvados provide connection services thanks to the lines 20 and 50.
Honfleur can also be reached by sea thanks to the ferry lines Caen-Ouistreham/Portsmouth, or Le Havre/Portsmouth.
In the past, Honfleur was called Honnefleu, a Viking name. It was already mentioned in 11th century documents as one of the most important villages of the dukedom of Normandy. As a matter of fact, its strategic location granted the town two roles: the defence of the royal river in particular against the English during the Hundred Years War; and the starting point of discovery travels during the 16th and 17th century such as the famous expedition carried out by Samuel de Champlain, in 1608, which led to the creation of Quebec. From the 17th-18th centuries, the harbour developed its trade activities towards Canada, the West Indies, the African coast and Azores. At the beginning of the 19th century, Honfleur became a remarkable Art centre with Eugene Boudin, born in Honfleur, who gathers numerous renowned artists such as Alexandre Dubourg, Claude Monet, or the poet Charles Baudelaire…
Le Quartier de l’Enclos is the origin of the city. It was surrounded by fortifications built in the 14th century which isolated it from everything, thus its name (the enclosed neighbourhood). In the past, this area comprised a church built in the 12th, a cemetery, a prison, a manor house and shops. Today, two granaries for storing salt remain. They were built in 1670 with the stones of the ramparts and now, they house numerous exhibitions, concerts, shows and conferences.
The church of the Saint Leonard neighbourhood replaced the 12th century medieval church which was ruined by the English and the attack of the Salisbury count in 1419. It was rebuilt in gothic style, only to be pulled down again during the religious wars. Today, only its front remains, along with its fountains and the wash house.
The church of Sainte Catherine is the largest wooden church with a separate tower bell in France and was listed as Historic Monuments in 1879. It was built by the inhabitants of Honfleur and they used wood from the Touques forest and their knowledge in shipbuilding.
The quaint houses of the Quai Sainte Catherine are what strikes visitors the most: This series of houses one against the other and of different sizes was built on the counterscarp of the former moat that surrounded the city. Some have slated fronts, others are corbelled constructions. The oldest ones date from 16th century.
La Lieutenance is one of the few vestiges from the fortifications. It was the house of the King’s Lieutenant, thus its name.
Apart from the cultural side, the traditional market takes place in Place Sainte Catherine every Saturday morning and offers fruits and vegetables, local products, local fish and shrimps. Honfleur organises every Wednesday morning the only organic market in the region, and has a fish market every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Food and Drink
The Andouille de Vire is a traditional Calvados and Normandy product and is served cold or hot.
Isigny sur mer of Calvados department is famous for its dairy products since the 16th century. The cooperative Isigny Sainte Mère produces butter and cream (labelled AOC which testifies to its origin and quality), and cheese such as Mimolette, Pont l’Evêque, Camembert or Trésor d’Isigny.
Normandy is also proud of its apples (around 2,000 sorts) and apple based products: cider, or Calva, an eau de vie made from distilled cider which benefits from several AOC (a label that testifies to its origin and quality). The tarte normande is a pie with apples cooked with cider.
As for cheese, Pont l’Eveque and Livarot are typical products from Normandy. They are both made from unpasteurized cow milk and benefit from an AOC label.
AU BOUILLON NORMAND, traditional restaurant. Specialities : Craquant de Camembert and Marmite de poissons. 7 rue de la ville, 14600, Honfleur. Tel: 02.31.89.02.41
AUBERGE DU VIEUX CLOCHER, specialities : Fondant de volaille farci aux cepes.
9 rue de l’homme de bois, 14600, Honfleur. Tel: 02.31.89.12.06
LES DEUX PONTS, traditional Normandy cuisine. 18-20, quai de la Quarantaine,
14600, Honfleur. Tel: 02 31 89 04 37
Sextant properties will be able to put you in touch with a local bi-lingual estate agent who will know the area well and is aware of all the properties that will fit your particular requirements, budget and area whether a courtyard house in Normandy, a smart town house in Honfleur itself or a sea view apartment overlooking La Manche and the beach.