Enjoy The Small Port Town Of Honfleur

Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Our First Stop In The Port Town Of Honfleur

On our first port in France as we cruised along the western 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.

Port Oceania Cruises Marina Low Tide.jpg

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.

Old Port Views.jpg

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.

Old Port Ferris Wheel.jpg

Old Port Carousel.jpg

Old Port Carousel - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Old Port Carousel and Ferris Wheel.jpg

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.

Old Port Views - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Old Port Views - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Old Port Views.jpg

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.

Town Streets and Buildings.jpg

Town Streets and Buildings - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Town Streets and Buildings - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Town Streets and Buildings.jpg

Town Streets and Buildings - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

As we wandered through town we found several interesting statues. Finding local art is one of the things we loved about our travels.

Town Statues - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Town Statues - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

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!

Port View Lunch - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

Port View Lunch.jpg

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.

St Catherines Church - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

St Catherines Church - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

St Catherines Church - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

On the inside of the church we saw wood everywhere – from the giant wooden roof through to the wooden carved beams and wooden organ.

St Catherines Church Inside.jpg

St Catherines Church Inside Ceiling - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

St Catherines Church Inside Organ.jpg

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.

St Catherines Church Inside Stained Glass - Small Port Town Of Honfleur France.jpg

St Catherines Church Inside Stained Glass.jpg

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 western 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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  1. Honfleur was one of my favorite places in France! Definitely reminded me of Copenhagen for sure. Loved the quaint nature and wonderful food and people. Glad you got to experience it!

  2. Looks like a real hidden gem. I haven’t been to Honfleur, but when I visited D-Day beaches and WW2 places, I was always surprised how calm and beautiful they are. As if the horrors 80 years ago didn’t happen.

  3. What a fascinating post, Linda. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wooden church, certainly not such a big one, in this part of the world, came totally unexpected. The little town of Honfleur looks lovely and glad you didn’t bother rushing a visit to Paris. Moules et frites are one of Ellie’s favourites.

    • We know we will definitely be back to France and get more chances to spend time in Paris. So it was great to take a lazy day and just wander in Honfleur. How could you pass on Moules et Frites with a view?

  4. I love seeing the stained glass in the churches. My church growing up was filled with endless stained glass windows and I remember looking at them every Sunday and thinking of the Bible stories they went with. Beautiful photos.

    • We found so many great spots when we wandered in Honfleur. The church was a pleasant surprise. We do love to check out the stained glass everywhere we visit.

      • This looks like a delightful port town full of character. I would love to roam its old streets to take in the harbour views, the tall towering houses and stop for a wonderful meal. Sounds like a perfect day to me.

  5. Honfleur seems like such a cool place to explore. I really like your interesting mix of pictures. The houses along the shore somewhat reminds me of Amsterdam. Would like to explore the place.

  6. That’s the most interesting church I’ve ever seen! It really does look like an upturned ship, especially on the inside! What a fantastic discovery.

  7. I have never heard about Honfleur since yesterday at the Museum of modern Art in Lausanne. There were a lot of paintings of Honfleur and I really liked the harbour area. I also learned from the explanations that painters like Monet, Turner and Dubigny loved the town for the beuatiful light and the atmosphere. And today I found your blog post – coincence? I guess it means I have to visit. I am with you, that the colorful houses along the harbor are similar to Copenhagen.

    • I am glad you found this blog post at the perfect time. We loved Honfleur and can understand why the painters visited to paint. The colourful harbour did remind us of Copenhagen (posts coming soon) ?

  8. I had never heard of Honfleur before but it looks delightful. I love the views of the old fair ground rides through the harbour. The port of honfleur looks like a lovely weekend away.

  9. Wow, I’ve never heard of Honfleur. But then, I don’t know much about the north of France, have always visited the southwest. However, I can totally see the rather northern influence in the architecture and the ‘vibe’. It looks very cute’n’cozy. Something for the bucket list in case I need a stopover when travelling south 😉

    • This was our first visit to the north coast of France. And we sure did love the great stops. Honfleur was a charming introduction to the port towns we found.

  10. I love visiting port towns. They are cute and have such amazing characteristic of their own. Honfleur does definitely look like a cute town. I have never been to France but I would love to go there some day. I will try to go to Honfleur if I have time for sure. I love that Old port area, looks exactly like how I imagine the port area to be. How lovely!

  11. Usually passenger ferries reach Calais or Dunkirk in France when we travel from UK to Europe. Interesting to know about Honfleur. I agree, for first timers, Paris may be awesome, but for regular trippers like you, these charming little towns & villages in coastal France are all the more stunning. France’s largest timber-built church with a separate bell tower? That gives me a solid reason to visit Honfleur. Interesting to know about mussels and fries. That’s quite similar to Belgium.

  12. From the time we visited Paris a couple of years back, we have have always planned to go back again. That’s because our trip was spoiled by continuous rains for 2 days at a stretch and Paris got flooded and paralyzed immediately after we left the city. Our next trip there to France would now certainly include North of France including Honfleur as I loved seeing the town through your eyes. A port town is always fascinating and it reminded me too of Copenhagen. Loved the St. Catherine’s church as I have never seen a wooden one ever. The food looks so inviting and also the sights of the boats to enjoy.

    • We visited Copenhagen several days before we got to Honfleur so it was fun to find another colourful port town. I hope you do get back to visit the north of France. We certainly will head back.

  13. I had heard on Honfleur as my aunt used to live in Le Havre but wasn’t aware that it was such a pretty place. Sometimes it’s nice to visit places without any expectation as I often find I enjoy just exploring more rather than having a list of sights to “tick off”. It looks like you had a lovely day & those moules made my mouth water!

    • We like to mix up our days when we travel. And wandering through this port town at our won pace and just discovering as we went was great. Such a lovely town. Hope you visit one day.

  14. I am glad you did not go on a rushed tour of Paris or other sites – Honfleur looks spectacular and unspoilt port town. I haven’t visited Honfleur but would love to as it is not too far from London – the architecture of the wooden church of St Katherine looks remarkable and exploring this quaint harbour town on the slow side is so appealing!

  15. I’ve never heard about Honfleur, but this small port town impressed me with it wooden church of St. Catherine. It is definitely different from all the churches/cathedrals that you have visited on your trips to other European countries. I would like to get lost in this town, walking on cobblestone street looking for street arts and beautiful buildings. Then order the moulets et frites for a lunch break. They look delicious!

    • We were so glad we chose a lazy day to wander in Honfleur. And that we found the unique church as we wandered. And there is nothing better than mules et frites with a port view. Wishing I was back there now!

  16. I haven’t heard of Honfleur harbor before. An extremely picturesque and photographic town. I would love to see these colorful houses, merry-go-rounds, and boats up close. The Wooden Church of St. Catherine looks beautiful. It’s great to know that it is France’s largest timber-built church with a separate bell tower. You had a beautiful trip!

  17. So happy to hear you didn’t race of to Paris and Normandy and got more thoroughly enjoy a quaint town like Honfluer. That way you could actual enjoy the local art and cafe culture, and it looks like you found some gems on that front!

  18. Looks like another town l need to visit in France. It looks so charming. Those mussels look amazingly yummy. It does remind you of Copenhagen doesn’t it? I could picture people watching the ship take off to turn around…haha! I would have freaked out.

    • Honfleur was one of our favourite ports on this cruise. A charming spot to just sit and enjoy the local vibe. We will definitely go back when we return to that area and enjoy it again.

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