CALVADOS DEPARTMENT

FR NORMANDY SEINNE-MARITIME omaha beachCalvados is named after a rock cluster off the sea coast. The area’s northern and eastern margins are surrounded but the English Channel and the Seine River respectively, while its border stretches from Honfleur to Igny-sur-Mer. Calvados has a pastoral landscape that is famous for its butter, cheese and cider production. However, perhaps its most famous export is the apple brandy- Calvados spirit.

NORMANDY honfleur - vieux bassinHonfleur (pop. 8,360) is a seaside town located on the southern bank of the estuary of the Seine River. Its residents are often referred to as Honfleurais. The town’s heart is at the Vieux Bassin (Old Harbour), which is a 17th century harbour that is still active, though more as a marina than a fishing port. This harbour has been an inspiration to artists over the years, most notably those who were involved in the Impressionist movement. Honfleur’s streets are lined with historic and traditional buildings that have political and religious significance. Hence, this brightly coloured town oozes traditional charm at every corner.

History
Honfleur has a rich seafaring tradition. After the Norman invasion of England in the 11th century, Honfleur became an important shipping point for goods travelling from Rouen to England. Due to its strategic location, the town profited from the sea trade tremendously. However, this also made Honfleur a target of attacks during the Hundred Years War, when it was occupied by the English. After this, the town continued engaging in maritime and slave trade, which contributed to its prosperity until the 18th century. Honfleur was also an important departure point for some of the world’s history-makers, such as Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City after setting sail from here in 1608. Cavelier de la Salle also set sail from here in 1681, later founding Louisiana.

NORMANDY HonfleurLayout
The town’s centre is at the port in Vieux Bassin. While, its north-western side leads to the eatery-lined street of Quai Ste Catherine, Rue de la République branches out from its southwest, leading into the town’s commercial hub. On its north-east, lies the Outer Harbour. There are no train stations in the town and the only way to arrive would be via bus or taxi.

Sights
The most popular tourist destination in Honfleur is the 500 year old Église Ste Catherine [Quai Sainte-Catherine, +33 231892330 ]. It was built between the 15th and 16th centuries, by Honfleurais who decided to construct the entire structure out of wood, in a cost-saving attempt. It was meant to be a temporary replacement to its stone predecessor which was destroyed during the Hundred Years War. However, it withstood the test of time; together with its monumental bell tower- Clocher Ste-Catherine.

Being an Impressionist artist hotspot, Honfleur built the Musée Eugéne Boudin [rue de l'Homme de Bois, +33 231895400  ad/ch €5.10/3.60], to remember the works of the early Impressionist painter and hometown boy. There is a special room set aside for his works, while the rest of the museum displays other artists’ paintings as well.

Another building erected in memory of a local artist, is the Les Maisons Satie [67, boulevard Charles V, +33 231891111  http://edumusic.free.fr/maisonssatie.shtml ad/ch €5.40/free]. This half-timbered house is the birthplace of avant-garde composer- Erik Satie. It was turned into a museum to commemorate his eccentric life and works. Each room presents a quirky artefact which you can view whilst listening to his music. The aim is to provide a corporeal surrealist experience.

FR NORMANDY Honfleur Marinemuseum in HonfleurThe 13th century church of Église St-Étienne has been turned into the Musée de la Marine [Quai Saint-Étienne,  +33 231891412  ad/ch €3.30/2.10], which pays homage to the maritime tradition of Honfleur by displaying ship models, tools and engravings.

The neighbouring building is the Musée d’ethnographie et d’art Populaire Nomandie [Rue de la Prison +33 231891412  www.musees-basse-normandie.fr ad/ch €3.40/2.20]. This aims to reconstruct a 16th-19th century Honfleur setting, with costumes, furniture and artefacts. It comprises of 9 period rooms situated in a former prison.

Hotels
Etap Hotel
[Rue des Vases +33 892680781  www.etaphotel.com €42-46] is a chain budget hotel with affordable, uniform rooms that are fitted with basic amenities.

Hotel Belvédère [36 Rue Emile Renouf, +33 231890813  www.hotel-belvedere-honfleur.com  €55-75] sits in a centralised location, offering views of the harbour. It has cosy rooms that are reasonably priced.

Hotel du Dauphin [10, Place Pierre Berthelot 14600 Honfleur, +33 231891553  www.hoteldudauphin.com €69-165] is located close to the Église Ste-Catherine in a 17th century slate and timber house. It has small rooms with a nautical theme that are named after famous Honfleur-related historic figures. Rooms are fitted with basic amenities; higher priced rooms have spa bathtubs and water jets.

A Le’cole Buissoniere [4 Rue de la Foulerie,  +33 616184362  www.a-lecole-buissonniere.com €115-530] is a beautiful Norman mansion which was turned into a school and now a bed & breakfast. It is located 50m from the city centre and the port and it comprises of 5 spacious rooms and a suite. Each room has a private shower or bath.

La Maison de Lucie [4 Rue des Capucines +33 231144040  www.lamaisondelucie.com €150-315] is the former house of the late novelist- Lucie Delarue Mardus. It has exquisite rooms that feature antiques, oak panels and even some with Moroccan bathroom tiles. It is close to the harbour and offers great views of the Vieux Bassin.