The charming seaside town of Honfleur sits opposite Le Havre, where the Seine meets the English Channel. The harbour is so large that these two port cities are linked by a two-kilometre bridge: the graceful Pont de Normandie. Honfleur’s seafaring traditions date back to the 11th century. The Vieux Bassin (Old Harbour) is a stunning sight, its shoreline crowded with strikingly tall and thin townhouses, their bright facades reflected in the water. Honfleur is a beautiful town to explore on foot. As well as narrow laneways and cobblestone streets, the Old Harbour boasts an excellent array of street cafés and restaurants with views of the water and the fishing boats bobbing gently in the swell.
Honfleur has always been popular with artists: Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet and many others have captured this stunning harbour town on canvas. Even today, artists sit along the waterfront, sketching the view of what is regarded to be Normandy’s most beautiful port town.
Honfleur is one of the most popular cruise-ship destinations in France: most river cruises between Paris and Normandy either begin or end in this stunning harbour town, and it is the launching point for many cruises across the English Channel or south to Spain.
Most cruise ships dock at the quay that adjoins the old harbour in the town centre. Occasionally, when tides are extremely low, cruise ships dock at a commercial pier out of town, and transfers are required back to Honfleur. The commercial pier has no facilities.
Facilities near the port in Honfleur include:
- Tourist office
- Restaurants and cafés
- Souvenir stores
- Public toilets
- Bank and ATMs
How To Get Around
Honfleur is a small and compact town. Walking maps are available from the tourist office showing three routes through Honfleur to take in all the attractions. The town centre, which circles the harbour, is completely flat and perfect to take at a scenic stroll. As the town is so small, there is no internal public transport network. The closest train station is in the nearby town of Deauville Trouville sur Mer, approximately 25 minutes away by taxi. Buses also link the two towns. Taxis are available to explore Honfleur, but the easiest way to get around is simply to walk. The Musée de la Marine, Musée d'Ethnographie et d’Art Populaire de Normand and the Église Ste-Catherine are all a three-minute walk or less from the port.
Currency – The currency in Honfleur is the Euro (€). Notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and €1 and €2 denominations.
Time Zone – Honfleur follows Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and two hours ahead during daylight savings from March to October.
Weather – The climate in Honfleur is cold and temperate. July is the hottest month in Honfleur, with temperatures averaging at 18 degrees Celsius. January is the coolest month, with temperatures averaging at 5 degrees Celsius.
Musée de la Marine – On the eastern shore of the Old Harbour, this charming museum traces Honfleur’s seafaring history as recorded in paintings and engravings and via a collection of model sailing ships, naval instruments and weaponry. One moving exhibit demonstrates Honfleur’s role in the traite négrière (slave trade) in the 17th and 18th centuries. The building housing the collection is a deconsecrated church from the 13th century, the Église St-Étienne.
Musée d'Ethnographie et d’Art Populaire de Normand – If you want a picture of life in Honfleur in the 16th to 19th centuries, visit this wonderful museum. With nine rooms across two adjacent traditional 16th century homes, you’ll find an incredible collection of furniture, clothing, folk art and domestic paraphernalia.
Église Sainte-Catherine (Saint Catherine's Church) – This striking church – the largest wooden church in all of France – was built by the shipbuilders of Honfleur in the 15th century. The original stone church that once graced the site was destroyed during the Hundred Years War. The Église Ste-Catherine was constructed using modest building materials and shipbuilding techniques, reserving the town’s funds for its fortifications. The foundation is stone, but the remainder of this unique building is constructed from timber from a nearby forest. The vaulted ceiling is clearly made by shipwrights as it looks much like the upturned hull of two great ships. According to legend, the church’s bell tower was built across the square from the church to protect its congregation from lightning strikes. Definitely worth a visit for its quirky architecture alone, the square outside the church also holds an outdoor market selling local organic produce every Wednesday until 1pm.