Friday, August 5, 2011


Gosh, it's weird being back in this steamy city after 2 weeks away! I had forgotten how smelly it is here in summer - and humid. Apparently I missed a relentless bout of summer weather. Unfortunately, Europe was under rainy cloud for most of the last fortnight. But it was still lovely to be surrounded by languages other than english.

Honfleur was my first rainy stop. It is a lovely little fishing port on the coast of Normandy, slap bang where the Seine mets the ocean. It sits close to its larger, more famous sister, Deauville, but has so much to offer if you are looking for a charming, cobble-stoned medieval town.

Home to composer Erik Satie and painter Eugene Boudin, Honfleur has always been famous for its rain and light, which is why so many artists travelled here to paint. Monet, Turner and Courbert all set up their easels on the sandy shores of Honfleur to paint ladies in their feathered hats and silk dresses sipping tea and playing boules on the sand, or large cloudy skies under which sailboats gaily traverse the sea.



One of the best things about Honfleur is the incredible, fresh seafood. All locally caught "that day,"  the shellfish practically jump off your plate and into your mouth!

And the other wonderful thing about this town was the B&B I found, thanks to the help of i-escape and Tatler Travel Guide 2011. La Petite Folie  is run by a gorgeous American woman who married a Frenchman, wanted to live in Provence but fell in love with Honfleur instead. She is passionate about old houses and consequently can't stop buying them to restore with beautiful antiques and original details. She had actually just bought her third house on the day I arrived, because she fell in love with the garden! Lucky for us travelers weary of chain hotels whose rooms all look the same.
This B&B is in a perfect position, has only 5 rooms with Pierre Frey fabrics and Porthault sheets. There is a fireplace for winter, afternoon tea in the drawing room and loads of shelter magazines to read on the sofa or in an armchair. And there's a friendly cat who will happily snuggle up to you if you are feline inclined. The owner is a veritable walking travel guide to Honfleur, sharing her favorite restaurants, food markets and more. Beware the restaurants surrounding the water!

But mostly I went to wander the cobblestone streets, smell the sea air and revel in the typical norman architecture. Definitely a worthwhile side-trip from Paris.  Just don't forget the umbrella!

all images mine except boudin (boudin galerie), monet (repro arte), la petite folie interiors (la petite folie)

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