24 Hours in Honfleur

Port de Honfleur

Port de Honfleur

Honfleur

Rue Eugène Boudin, Honfleur

La Cidrerie, Honfleur

Hotel l'Ecrin, Honfleur

Honfleur

Notre-Dame de Grâce, Honfleur

Honfleur

I don’t know why either of us were surprised, but Honfleur is adorable. We spent exactly 24 hours in this tiny portside town and were charmed at every turn. From the narrow, winding cobblestone streets, to the largest church made out of wood in France, to our boutique hotel and all the drinking and eating in between, I can’t recommend it enough if you come to France. Honfleur is nestled along the water in the Normandy region, about two hours northwest of Paris, making it the perfect weekend getaway. You know, assuming you can brave a Parisian car rental agency, Parisian roads (the Arc de Triomphe circle HAS NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS), French highways, getting lost on French highways, etc. At certain points, it felt like Jamal and I were reenacting this scene from “Clueless.” Oh, and he had an eye infection, too, so add that into the mix.

But he was a champ, and the trip was entirely his doing –from picking a town to reserving the car and the hotel. We stayed in a suite at the Hotel l’Ecrin, and while it was a total splurge, it was worth it just to have a wooden spiral staircase to the bedroom. The service was top-notch and the grounds and shared spaces were gorgeous. There was a pool, and a billiard room, and a spa, none of which we got to try. But that only means that we have to go back one day. We both agreed when we checked in that the hotel would be a beautiful spot for a wedding, and sure enough, when we left on Sunday, there was a reception in the back garden.

Normandy, aside from being the site of a major battle in WWII, is also famous for its production of apple cider and Calvados, an apple brandy, something we definitely got a taste for during our stay. Because Honfleur was spared during the WWII bombings, and later liberated by Allied Forces, there are reminders small and large around the city of the Honfleurais’ gratitude — “Welcome to Our Liberators!” was printed on one gift shop window, as the 70th anniversary of D-Day was the week before we arrived, and there was even a tall monument carved into a thick slab of stone near Notre-Dame de Grâce church. We stopped for drinks along the port, tried (and failed) to make friends with a Golden Retriever who lived at an ice cream stand, ate a lot of cheese, hiked to the tippy top of le Mont-Joli hill to take in the view, and I found my dream home (that last photo)!. Doesn’t it look like something out of Harry Potter? I wanted to move in to that top spire.

For dinner, we had the hotel make reservations at Au Relais des Cyclistes, a wholly unfussy local restaurant just off the main strip along the harbor (another one of Jamal’s finds!), where I had the most delicious vegetable soup (I’m still thinking about it) and a grilled salmon steak. With dessert, my three-course meal was under €14. Or, you know, the price of one plate in Paris.

We were sad to leave and, admittedly, the noise level back in Paris was startling to both of us upon re-entry. The only sounds we heard from our hotel room in Honfleur were the occasional bird or crunch of gravel. I’m a city mouse through and through, but sometimes even city mice need a little break. Thanks, Jamal!

Other Fun Details of Note: French highways have designated toll lanes for credit card payments, in addition to cash and the equivalent of an EZ-Pass. You drive up, swipe your credit card, and go. Take note, America! Also, French radio stations play the most random assortment of music. We heard Pink Floyd, Montell Jordan’s “Get It On Tonight,” salsa, Cœur de Pirate, and lots of indeterminable French. Also also, it took us 1h45m to get from Honfleur to Paris, and another 2hrs to drive through the city, get gas, and drop the car off. We don’t have a car back in Philly, either, but I can’t imagine how people do it in Paris.

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June 20, 2014 / art / photo / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 25

25 comments

  • That Golden Retriever is lucky to be living in an ice cream shop. :)

    • Well, we think that’s where he lived. We saw him laying outside of an art gallery up the street, too, so who knows :) xo

      • Maybe he’s the town dog?

  • Oh la la que c’est beau! C’est un endroit magnifique, il faudra que un jour on fais un petit tour par le nord! L’hôtel est charmant, très bon trouvaille! J’espère que t’auras une très bon weekend! xo

    • C’est vraiment un endroit magnifique. Je recommande l’Hôtel l’Ecrin! C’etait parfait et très luxueux. xoxo

  • LOL I love that scene from Clueless!! Honfleur looks like something out of a storybook – so beautiful!

    • Haha I’m glad someone else loves that scene! It’s a classic, and it’s the first thing I thought of when we were driving! xo

  • these photos are so pretty! as much i do really, really, really want to go to paris someday – to visit, to stay awhile, i’d love to live someplace like this. or i’d love to live in marseille (i think). really i just to need to see all of france. including this amazing little town. the boats, the carousel, the color and those buildings, could it be anymore charming? i think not.

    • Oh you don’t want to live in Marseille. I’m not sure what the Oregon equivalent is, but in France if there is a major crime, it is likely taking place in Marseille. At least that’s how I’ve come to understand it from my French teacher and a few locals. I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as Camden, NJ (that and North Philly is where the majority of Philadelphia-area crime takes place) because the French don’t have nearly the same gun problem we have, but I don’t think Marseille is as cutesy as you’re envisioning. But who knows, maybe you and I could scope it out together to be sure! :) xo

  • All the pictures are gorgeous, but that crepe! It looks so lush and delicious. Honfleur looks like a picture-perfect postcard town, complete with a carousel on the wharf.

    • Girl, that crêpe was everything. Caramel au beurre sale, hot and gooey. Even Mr. “I Don’t Eat Dessert” Jamal chowed down on it. It was delicious, and a total hidden gem. If you’re in Honfleur, check out La Cidrerie! xo

  • Beautiful pictures! As always :) I just google translated my blog to English. OMG, haha! It’s a wonder you can understand what I write about sometimes. It’s totally not the right translation sometimes. I giggled a lot while reading the google translation…

    • Hahah I told you, 90% of the time I can get the gist! But Google Translate applies gender to the word “it” a lot, so halfway through a post it will say “He was____” and I’ll think, “Wait, he who?” Clearly this means I need to learn Swedish :) xoxo

  • Oh it’s beautiful and colourful there – and that ferris wheel on the river is like a mini London eye. This place definitely merits a trip back but then again, you can probably say that about ALL the places in France. I have the travel bug for sure now

    • Super duper teensy mini version of the London eye! You’re right, I’ve only been to three cities in France and I want to go back to all of them…plus the 1000000 others I haven’t been to yet. Next up, though, Provence and the south of France! We’ve decided. xo

  • SO incredible! Looks and sounds like the loveliest little getaway. I cannot believe that America has yet to get credit card toll booths. Also – two hours to just drive through Paris and get gas? Sounds maddening. But, I’m curious where you found a gas station bc when I was there I remember never coming across one!

    • Right?! I know there is a tiny, two pump station on Boulevard de Courcelles near the Ternes metro stop, right on the middle of the sidewalk, but being Sunday it was of course closed. So we drove back to Montmartre and Jamal had the brilliant idea to ask a cab driver! He pointed us to Port de Clignancourt, which was a traffic zoo in its own right because it’s so close to the Peripherique, but there are two gas stations there. Just in case you ever need to fill up, that’s your best bet! xo

  • Hello my lovely. XO It’s striking to me how vibrant these photos are compared to the more muted tones of Paris. I’m torn: so *not* a city girl, but I adore those neutrals. It still KILLS me that we didn’t make it to Normandy last year because of Cal’s illness. I would have loved to have seen this. Add it to my ever-growing list.

    • You’re back! Hi hi. Yeah, Honfleur had a lot of light & color going on! It is touted as one of the birthplaces of Impressionism because of the light and the water, and I can absolutely understand why having been there. Of course, it’s exploded in popularity with the tourism business, so all the extra bunting flags and bright awnings are more recent. Still. Definitely try to go if you can on your next trip!! xo

  • oh what a delightful 24 hours!!!

    and thank you for the marvelous photos, to give us a taste of the local area…

    hope jamal’s eye infection is all, all, all gone!!!

    tessa~

    • It truly was! The perfect 24 hours, but I could have used another 24. I’m greedy :)

      Thank you so much, Tessa! His eye infection thankfully was almost entirely clear by Monday, thanks in no small part to the wrestling I had to do to put drops in his eyes. ;) xo

  • oh, looks wonderful. and I love, love, love your new profile pic (sorry if it’s been there for a while and I’ve just noticed :)

    • No no, it’s relatively new! Maybe a week old, tops. J took it when he was here, so you’re not too far behind on noticing :) And merci beaucoup, mon chou. xoxo

  • Wow this weekend trip looks amazing. And that hotel looks do beautiful.
    I’ve not been to Normandy but your pictures and words have convinced that I should.
    PS liking the new side bar profile pic. Very pretty

    • The hotel was like nothing I’ve ever seen. One main Victorian house with multiple smaller houses scattered around the property, finely kept hydrangea and rose bushes lining gravel pathways…it was a dream. xo
      PS. Thank you, Stephi! :)