16 must-see things to do in Honfleur

Les ruelles pittoresques de Honfleur

Would you like to discover the Normandy coast? Put down your suitcases in Calvados and visit the town of Honfleur.

Honfleur, this seaside resort on the Côte Fleurie, is home to many cultural and artistic gems. Its timber-framed houses, old port and gastronomic delights epitomize Norman elegance.

The charm of the narrow streets of the historic center will give you the impression of stepping back in time as you go. The Impressionist movement inspired by the great names of Honfleur has left an indelible mark on the town’s heritage. You’re sure to fall under its spell, between its maritime landscape and its rural hinterland.

If you’re visiting the city of painters for the first time, discover the 16 must-dos in Honfleur for a weekend or extended stay.

Stroll through the Old Basin, the heart of the historic center

Vieux Bassin, le cœur du centre historique

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IfAmsterdam harbor has its singing sailors, Honfleur harbor has its houses reflected in the water. When you step on the cobblestones of the Vieux Bassin, you’re transported to a postcard setting.

The narrow, colorful facades of 17th- and 18th-century wooden houses line the basin like guardians of the land. In fact, several of them are listed as historic monuments. This tourist attraction attracts all kinds of artists eager to pay homage to this Norman port.

You’re sure to come across painters immortalizing the colors of the city with the tip of their brush and photographers hiding behind their camera.

Visit Saint Catherine’s Church

visiter Honfleur

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The church of Sainte-Catherine is one of the must-sees when visiting Honfleur. Built in the second half of the 15th century, this timber-framed edifice is one of the town’s historic monuments.

It is one of the last and largest churches in France to have a separate bell tower. The latter, built from oak, can also be visited. When you enter this sacred site, you feel as if you’re standing on the hull of an overturned ship. Indeed, the workers of the time had an excellent knowledge of shipbuilding.

For the record, the church replaced a stone church destroyed during the Hundred Years’ War.

Discover Honfleur’s Garden of Personalities

Jardin des Personnalités de Honfleur

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Looking for some peace and quiet during your visit to Honfleur? Head for the 10-hectare Jardin des Personnalités between the Vieux Bassin and the Seine embankment. This green lung is home to magnificent statues of personalities who either came from Honfleur or stopped off here.

During your stroll, you’ll meet Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, Charles Baudelaire, Erik Satie, Françoise Sagan and Michel Serrault, while the many benches between the landscaped walkways invite you to take a break between the rose bushes and the large green lawns.

Visit the salt granaries

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Step back in time on your visit to the salt granaries. These three stone buildings were built in 1670 from stones taken from the town’s ramparts. At the time, they could store up to 10,000 tons of salt for preserving cod and herring.

Today, only two listed buildings remain. They host all kinds of cultural events, including exhibitions, concerts and conferences.

Visiting museums

Honfleur has four must-see museums to help you understand the local heritage. If you’d like to visit them all, Generation Voyage recommends the Museum Pass with its preferential rates. You’ll find them directly in the museums or at the tourist office.

The Eugène Boudin Museum

Le musée Eugène Boudin

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We begin our tour of the Normandy town’s most popular museums with the Musée Eugène Boudin. This pays tribute to the great painter and precursor of Impressionism. The museum boasts a collection of paintings by Norman painters such as Boudin, Monet, Dufourg, Courbet and Dufy.

The museum is divided into seven exhibition rooms, each focusing on a specific theme. They take you to the heart of the region’s Impressionist and Romantic painting. Discover thousands of objects and Norman headdresses from an ethnography collection.

Museum of Ethnography and Folk Art

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The former prison of the Viscounty of Rocheville houses the nine rooms of Honfleur’s Museum of Ethnography and Folk Art. Step back in time to discover the daily lives of servants and the economic life of Normandy from the 16th to the 19th century. During your visit, admire antique folk art objects, costumes and period furniture typical of the region. A true immersion in time!

The Navy Museum

Le musée de la Marine

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Honfleur’s museums have the unique distinction of being housed in incredible historic buildings. The Marine Museum is no exception.

It is located in the heart of the parish church of Saint-Étienne, between two narrow houses facing the Vieux Bassin. These walls house a collection of models, engravings and objects related to the sea. Discover the history of fascinating explorers such as the Maquis de la Roche and Roberval’s expedition to Canada.

Les Maisons Satie

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The Maisons Satie invite you to discover the 20th-century composer and musician Erik Satie. They bring together three listed houses, including those where the composer grew up. This musical genius, a child of the town, worked with some of the greatest names of his time, including Picasso and Braque.

As you’ll see, this tour is nothing like the city’s other three museums. It immerses you in musical scenographic tableaux combining image, sound and light. This poetic show will engage the senses of young and old alike.

Getting to the Pont de Normandie

Le pont de Normandie

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You can’t visit Honfleur without stopping off in front of or on the Pont de Normandie. This metal giant links Upper and Lower Normandy with its long arm over the Seine.

A veritable icon of the Honfleur landscape, it even features on many postcards. The two-kilometre route can be taken by car, bike or on foot. From its height of 214 metres, you’ll be able to take in a panoramic view of the Seine valley.

Visit Saint-Léonard church

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Saint-Léonard church has survived the centuries to present you with an impressive Gothic façade. Built in 1186, it was destroyed during the Hundred Years’ War, as were many religious buildings.

Rebuilt in the early 16th century, it pays homage to Saint-Léonard. This nobleman of the court of King Clovis was seen at the time as the patron saint of prisoners. The most remarkable details are its Gothic main portal and bell tower.

In the vicinity of this place of worship, you’ll find a number of fountains and an ancient washhouse.

Discover the region’s gastronomy

La gastronomie de la région

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If French gastronomy is recognized the world over, Honfleur is the perfect tribute. Normandy boasts a unique culinary art that will delight every palate. Taste the famous Normandy cheeses, all with PDO labels: Camembert, Livarot, Pont-l’Évêque and coeur de Neufchâtel.

At aperitif time, Calvados and Pommeau take pride of place on the head table. In fact, there are numerous stores selling these beverages in the narrow streets of the Normandy town. Honfleur also boasts a unique specialty: bouillabaisse honfleuraise. This hearty dish, made from a variety of fish from the English Channel, can be enjoyed in the town’s various restaurants.

Stroll through the picturesque streets of Honfleur

visiter Honfleur

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At Generation Voyage, we like to explore towns as we go. We recommend you do the same when you visit Honfleur. Let yourself be carried away by the special atmosphere of the Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Léonard and Enclos districts. Discover flower-filled alleyways and traditional craft stores around the corner. Colorful half-timbered houses will guide you on your journey.

Visit the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce chapel

La chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

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Nestled at the top of Mont Jolie, the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce chapel was built in the early 17th century by the Duke of Normandy. Inside, you’ll find paintings, ship models and an antique organ.

From this promontory on Mont Jolie, Honfleur’s liveliness stretches out beneath you. The Seine estuary, Le Havre and the famous Pont de Normandie form a backdrop behind the town’s colorful rooftops. The sharpest eyes will recognize the Plage du Butin and the Jardin des Personnalités among the half-timbered houses.

A walk on Butin beach

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Honfleur is first and foremost a seaside resort, so head for the seaside. Plage du Butin stretches over several kilometers of sand at the entrance to the town. This family-friendly beach has all the facilities (showers, toilets, bathing cubicles, playground…) you need to spend a pleasant moment with your family.

What’s more, there are several cycle paths leading to the beach for the more sporty among you. Water sports enthusiasts are free to paddle, canoe or sail. If you’d like to eat in, there’s a café selling snacks and drinks on the beach. In summer, children can enjoy a carefree swim in the bathing area supervised by lifeguards.

Take a walk on the sea

visiter Honfleur

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Finally, if you don’t know what to do in Honfleur, take to the sea. There are several different ways to discover the Normandy port. Enjoy a 1.5-hour stroll along the Seine estuary, passing under the Pont de Normandie. You can also opt for a 45-minute guided tour of Honfleur. You’ll sail aboard the Calypso, a former whaling ship.

What to see and do around Honfleur?

  • The Honfleur Carrousel
  • Naturospace
  • Discover the other towns of Normandy: Deauville, Trouville-sur-Mer, Etretat, Le Havre, Caen…

How to get to Honfleur

Honfleur belongs to the Calvados department in Normandy. You can get there easily by car, and park in the town’s parking lots. It’s 2h30 from Paris, 3h45 from Nantes, 2h40 from Rennes and 3h35 from Lille.

Unfortunately, Trouville-Deauville has no direct train service from major cities. If you’re coming from Paris, take a train from Gare Paris Saint-Lazare to Trouville-Deauville. Then hop on a green bus or Nomad Car to the city center. Regional buses are also available from surrounding towns.

Perhaps you’d prefer to take to the skies? Fly to Deauville Saint-Gatien airport, 10 km from the center of Honfleur. To find the cheapest flight to Honfleur, use a travel comparison service.

Where to stay in Honfleur?

Finding accommodation when visiting Honfleur is so simple, there are so many choices to suit every budget. For those wishing to travel on a smaller budget, there are numerous Airbnb rentals in different parts of the town.

And if you’re looking for a lively neighborhood, we recommend the Vieux Bassin. Lulled by the sound of the boats in the fishing port, you’ll be right in the heart of the hustle and bustle. For those who prefer to stay in a quiet neighborhood, consider the Saint-Léonard district. For those who prefer shopping and shopping streets, head for the Enclos district.

For those for whom comfort is a must, you can find accommodation to suit your budget with our hotel comparator!

Getting around Honfleur

Rue piétonne Honfleur

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Leave your car behind and get around Honfleur on foot. All the main attractions are within easy pedestrian reach. If you’re more sporty, you can also rent bicycles during your trip.

So, are you ready for a road-trip to Normandy?

 

Map of hotels and accommodation – Normandy