Our First Stop In The Port Town Of Honfleur
On our first port in France as we cruised along the northern coast of Europe, we enjoyed the small port town of Honfleur.
We headed across the channel from our stop in Dover, England for the day where we visited the Canterbury Cathedral. The trip to the French coast at Dover was very short by boat. For anyone driving, the tunnel ran under the sea at this point. The waters continued to be calm as the ship travelled down the coast of France.
Docking In Honfleur
Our Oceania Cruises ship docked and we looked out the window. It was low tide and it was quite bizarre to see the rocks on the bottom of the channel just beside the ship. The tide swing in Honfleur was over over 20 feet while we were in port.
As the day went on, the lines became tighter and the gangway angle got steeper. So in the middle of the afternoon, the gangway was pulled away and the cruise ship was turned around. This put the ship nose out so when it left late in the day it would not get stuck in low water.
Cruise ship loading was suspended for an hour while they swung the ship. I felt sorry for people who did not pay attention to the briefings about the need to move the ship. They may have freaked out when they saw the ship leave the dock early!
Staying In Honfleur
The port of Honfleur offered a wide variety of excursions. Some people chose to do the very long day trip to visit Paris. We visited Paris on numerous occasions. So that meant we did not need to return for a very rushed visit.
This was also the port that people used to visit the sites along the Normandy coast for key sights critical during WWII. The tours moved people from spot to spot with about an hour at each to visit. David considered doing one of these D Day tours. But we finally decided to leave that to a future visit to France.
There were a number of other tours to other small towns in the area. But we heard that Honfleur was a lovely quaint French town. It sounded perfect to us. So we decided to walk out on our own and enjoyed the small port town of Honfleur.
The Old Port In Honfleur
The ship was docked at the industrial harbour. This meant a short shuttle bus ride to the downtown area of Honfleur. From town we saw the ship on the horizon. It looked close but the walk was quite twisted to actually get there.
We got our first picturesque view of the old port. It was complete with refections of the ships in the port and the town ferris wheel. We never saw the ferris wheel turn while we were in port. But the brightly coloured merry-go-round went around whenever there was a paying customer.
The big U-shaped harbour was filled with small colourful boats. We saw the cafes that lined the dock. It reminded us very much of our visit to Copenhagen that started this trip with a cruise through the Baltic countries.
This first view of the small port town of Honfleur delighted us.
A Stroll Through The Small Port Town of Honfleur
We enjoyed our day as we slowly strolled through the small port town of Honfleur. The sun was shining and it was warm. The streets in the old town were all cobblestone so we walked slowly and enjoyed the views. Every street added one more quaint view.
As we wandered through town we found several interesting statues. Finding local art is one of the things we loved about our travels.
At noon the cafes started to fill. Each one showed an outside board that aimed to draw in customers. David had a spot picked out. We were delighted when we found the daily special was moules et frites (mussels and fries). Our daily special came with both house wine and a delicious Normandy tart!
It was a lovely day to sit on the patio as we watched the view out over the harbour. This was exactly what we planned for our day in the small port town of Honfleur.
The Wooden Church of St. Catherine
There were several churches to visit in Honfleur. We saw a lot of churches on our Baltic cruise in the fall. But there was one we had to see in Honfleur.
St. Catherine’s church was France’s largest timber-built church with a separate bell tower. It was built by local craftsmen who applied their naval construction skills. So it was not surprising that it’s wooden shape resembled an overturned ship’s double hull.
From the outside we got our first view of this fascinating structure. The sides of the church were made with wood lathe. The front of the church had wooden panels.
On the inside of the church we saw wood everywhere – from the giant wooden roof through to the wooden carved beams and wooden organ.
Behind the dual alter area of the church we saw a large set of stained glass windows. We were amazed with the vast array of stained glass windows we recently saw on our visit to the Canterbury Cathedral. But the stained glass windows in this church were embedded into the inside ambiance.
This was certainly one of the most interesting churches we visited on our travels.
We Enjoyed Our First Port In France
We had five port stops along the north coast of France on our cruise along the northern coast of Europe. These ports included many new places we had never visited.
Our first stop in the small port town of Honfleur delighted us. It was quaint and charming. We loved the chance to sit in the cafe with the locals for lunch. And our visit to the wooden church was a great treat.
The next port stop in St Malo gave us a chance to visit the mystical Mont St Michel.
Have you visited the small port town of Honfleur? Did you stroll in the town or use that as your base to explore Normandy?
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