Sitting on the south bank of Seine estuary, not far from where it meets the English Channel, is Honfleur. This achingly pretty village in the Calvados department of Normandy, with a population of around 8,000, is a collection of twisted, cobblestoned lanes, waterfront cafes, half timbered houses with flower filled window boxes and art galleries. It is one of the prettiest places you can ever come across, and its reluctance to go down the tourist route just adds to its charm even more.
Wherever you go in Europe you will see some kind of memorial to somebody famous who slept there at some time, be it Napoleon, George Washington or some other luminary. You would not expect to find such a thing in Honfleur, but turn a corner and you stumble upon a bronze bust of the father of new France Samuel de Champlain. The plague below tells you how this intrepid explorer made all his voyages to the New World from this tiniest of ports, including the voyage in 1608 which resulted in Quebec City being founded.
The French-Canadian connection is one everyone knows, but to find it here is quite a surprise. Ask around and you soon discover that the vast majority of their visitors come from Canada, all eager to see where the man that shaped their future originated from. There is much to appeal to the visitor in Honfleur, and simply walking around will have you discovering many gems.
Honfleur has another notable place in history, in that is widely considered to be the birthplace of impressionism thanks to Monet’s mentor Eugene Boudin being born here. His friends visited here many times over the years and it is impossible to calculate how many times the narrow alleys and old harbour have appeared in impressionist masterpieces and his self titled Eugene Boudin museum is a must see.