10 things to do in Honfleur, France

10 things to do in Honfleur, France

French Trip

What to see in Honfleur with kids

A stroll in Honfleur with kids can be a real treat for the whole family. Located on the coast of Normandy, Honfleur is one of the most beautiful places in France. You can easily spend a few days here just immersed in the atmosphere of this charming medieval town with its narrow cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and beautiful harbor.

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From boat rides and butterfly houses to eccentric museums and new foodie tastings, there’s something for the whole family to do here. Honfleur is located at the mouth of the Seine River and the English Channel. It is an excellent starting point for exploring the beautiful Normandy coast, as it is close to the seaside towns of Trouville and Deauville, and the stunning alabaster cliffs at Etreta, further north.

Etrette Cliffs.

What to see in Honfleur with kids

Here’s our pick of the best things to see and do.

Take a boat trip along the estuary

Traveling around town by boat is usually a lot more fun, and Honfleur is no exception. There are boat rides along the estuary several times a day. You can also just watch fishing boats come in and unload their catch along the waterfront.

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Immerse yourself in the crazy world of Eric Satie

When you enter the museum and are greeted by a giant pear bouncing up and down on a pair of wings, you immediately know you’re in for a fun time. Composer Eric Satie was born in this mahogany house in 1866, and this museum is one of the craziest and most fascinating museums you’ll ever find yourself in. It’s a musical and visual journey into his world. An audio guide with headphones will guide you through the rooms, playing different pieces of music and talking as you walk.

Satie worked with the Surrealists, collaborated with artists such as Picasso and Jean Cocteau, and influenced composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky. There is a lot of surrealist humor here. Kids are likely to like the room better when you climb on the carousel – the seat is a big ball and you have to pedal to the music. An accordion from a book and a violin in an old boot float above your head.

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Maisons Satie is open every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. October through May). Adults €6.20; under 16, free.

Take a stroll along the harbour

Honfleur’s old harbor, “Vieux Bassin”, is one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. It is surrounded by tall and narrow sixteenth- and eighteenth-century townhouses, some colorfully painted, others with bright gray slate facades. You’ll return here again and again to admire the boats, picnic on the stone steps, or have a drink at one of the many cafes and restaurants that overlook the sidewalk. Your kids might want to try one of the brightly colored syrups, a fruit squash flavored with mint, strawberry, lemon and grenadine. Adults can try the local specialty, Kir Normande, as a pre-dinner treat: blackcurrant liqueur with sparkling cider instead of the usual white wine.

Honfleur Sights.

Eat mussels and oysters

The fresh seafood in Honfleur is delicious and it’s the perfect place to introduce your children to new flavors of French gourmet cuisine. The more touristy cafes around the old harbor are ideal for those who want to people-watch, but you’ll find the best seafood in the restaurants on Quai de la Quarantaine overlooking the river mouth.

The two- or three-course menu of the day provides the best value for money, and there are usually several options for each course. The seafood selections are an interesting way to encourage more adventurous kids to try many new dishes. If the kids refuse clams, at least they’ll be happy with the whole servings of fries.

Normandy Cuisine, French Mussels

See paintings of Honfleur by Monet at the Eugène Boudin Museum

The beauty of Honfleur has inspired artists for hundreds of years. It is considered one of the cradles of Impressionism after artists began coming here to paint in the open air in the 19th century. They were attracted by the beauty of the harbor and the amazing quality of the light on the Normandy coast. The artists stayed at Auberge Saint Siméon, a timber-framed farmhouse, where they drank cider and paid their bills with paintings.

A local artist, Eugène Boudin, introduced the young Monet to the area. You can see many of their Normandy paintings at the Musée Eugène Boudin. There is also an excellent collection of Normandy hats and costumes.

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The Eugène Boudin Museum is open every day except Tuesday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Ticket for the permanent collection 6 €, free up to 16 years old.

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If painting is not particularly interesting to your children, you can go to the Maritime Museum, which is sure to delight the boys. There are plenty of ship models and objects related to the sea.

  • Address: 11 Quai Saint-Etienne, 14600 Honfleur.
  • Admission cost: €4.20 for adults and €2.90 for children and students.
Let them run in the parks

Not far from the center, there are plenty of places to let kids relax and play hide-and-seek. In the large park Le Jardin des Personnalités you can have fun finding twelve statues of famous people who lived in Honfleur. In the summer, there are open-air concerts. Guests can walk along the promenade and past the lighthouse to the beach, and there’s a good playground in the Public Garden.

Pick up picnic food at the market

Every Saturday morning there is a lovely market on the cobblestone streets near St. Catherine’s Church, the largest wooden church in France. It is a typically French market with stalls filled with gourmet foods such as cheeses, sausages, pies and freshly caught seafood. It’s the perfect place to buy Norman delicacies like Camembert and cider, or picnic foods in one of the parks.

Surround yourself with butterflies at Naturospace

You can watch butterflies emerge from their chrysalis in Naturospace, the largest tropical butterfly house in France. In the warm atmosphere of the rainforest butterflies and tropical birds can fly freely and some will fly right up to you.

From the center of Honfleur follow the signs Naturospace. The House of Butterflies is located 700 meters from the city center.

Honfleur: attractions, hotels and other useful information

Honfleur

The fabulous Normandy attracts tourists from all corners of the globe. The medieval atmosphere, rich history, it seems that time moves here in a completely different way. So it is in Honfleur.

Honfleur was once in the possession of the Vikings. Hence the name, Honfleur (-fleur from the Scandinavian word for “flothe”, the mouth of a river, and hon- from an Anglo-Saxon name). It served as a harbor for seagoing ships, but over time another port, Le Havre, developed faster and took over that role.

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Since then, Honfleur has acquired the status of a picturesque, tranquil city. Its romantic look and ancient streets have inspired many artists, poets and musicians. Camille Corot, Claude Monet and Georges Seurat worked here. And soon the city was called the “cradle of Impressionism”.

How to reach Honfleur?

By train

There’s no passenger station in Honfleur itself, but at Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris you can get a ticket to one of the nearby train stops – Lisieux or Le Havre. From them to Honfleur buses #20 Le Havre-Can, #50 Lisieux-Gavre and Express #39 Le Havre-Onfleur-Can.

A one-way bus ride from Le Havre costs €3.70 for adults and €3.1 for youth (under 26). A train ticket to Le Havre starts at 13 euros. Roughly the same prices from Lisieux.

A train ticket will cost from 15 to 30 euros. You can buy it in advance at the minimum price online at this link.

By car

For motorists, the way is via the A13 (then Beuzeville-N13-A28-Honfleur). The distance of about 194 km you can easily travel in 2-2,5 hours. Book a car for the trip on this link.

River cruise

Honfleur is the end point of the seven-day sightseeing cruise on the Seine (Paris-Vernon-Les Andelys-Rouen-Caudebec-en-Caux-Honfleur). A chic opportunity to admire the town from the ship. Click here to discover the offer.

Transport at Honfleur

The town itself has two bus lines A and B from HOBUS. The fare within the city is 0.5 euros. A map of the routes can be downloaded at the end of the article.

The main attractions of Honfleur

Old Port

Walking along the promenade, you’ll see boats, yachts bobbing on the waves, tall narrow houses, painted in different colors and standing close to the wall. From a distance it looks like a theater set, and about to begin the show. It was here that famous artists liked to paint pictures. Why not join them? Take a notebook and a pencil with you on your trip and express on paper how you see the city.

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Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Unique in that it was built without a single nail, and is shaped like an upside-down ship. There was once a stone church on this site, but it was destroyed during the Hundred Years’ War. The inhabitants had no money for stone, so it was decided to rebuild the church using wood. It became the largest wooden church in France. It is located near the seafront.

Church of St. Leonard

An architectural structure that attracts a combination of several styles, frescoes inside the temple and an 8-cornered bell tower. It closes early, so it’s worth visiting this place before lunch.

Eugène-Louis Boudin Museum

There are 9 permanent exhibitions. Here you will see about 90 paintings of famous artists, an exhibition of national Norman costumes and headdresses. Open in summer, open on weekends in winter. Tuesday is not a working day. Located at rue de l’Homme de Bois.

Ethnographic Museum

Recommended for those interested in Normandy’s history, culture and way of life. Find it at rue de la Prison.

Maritime Museum

It is open on the premises of the Church of St. Etienne, the oldest church in the city. There are models of ships and original souvenirs on display. Monday is the day off.

Satie Museum

This is an interactive museum. Visitors are given headphones at the entrance in order to immerse themselves in the mysterious world of Etienne Satie through a game of light, shadows and music. You will even meet a ghost playing Etienne’s compositions on a white piano. The tour of the halls lasts about an hour, the price is 4 euros. The weekend is Tuesday. Address: 67 boulevard Charles V.

Park Naturospace

If you go to this park, you get into a tropical forest. Here you can watch butterflies, birds and fish. Butterflies drink nectar, swirl around people and even land on an outstretched palm. Birds are not afraid of tourists and let them close enough to them. Specially for the fish at the entrance you can buy food. The park is located at bd Charles V. The ticket price is 7.40 euros.

Where to stay in Honfleur ?

The whole city is not so big that you need to choose a hotel closer to the sights. These hotels have earned good reviews from tourists:

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Campanile Honfleur Nice atmosphere, delicious food, welcoming staff. There is a beautiful garden around the hotel. Distance to the city center – 1,5 km. The price for a night – 85 euros.

L’Ecrin Hotel is located just 300 meters from the waterfront. According to reviews, it is considered the best in the city for value for money. Comfortable rooms, professional service, entertainment areas. The average room rate is 150 euros.

Domaine Du Clos Fleuri A modern hotel with all the amenities. Free sauna, beautiful garden, indoor pool, whirlpool bath. Located 9 minutes walk from the beach. The cost of living – 240 euros.

La Ferme Saint Simeon The hotel is notable for the fact that on this site used to be a diner, where artists loved to visit. In the lobby you can see the letters of Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, their paintings. Each room is individually decorated, for relaxation there is everything you need. There is a spa, flower garden, restaurant, access to the terrace. The hotel is located 200 meters from the coast. The cost per night is 380 euros.

Where to eat?

Normandy is home to many French dishes, but the main thing to look out for is the local seafood. The freshest, freshly fished they are sure to please you.

Les Cascades (17 place Tiers) A cozy restaurant, stylish interior, fine food. Fast service and friendly staff. This is a popular place to try mussels as an option. Average bill: €10-30 per person.

L’Écluse (Quai de la Quarantaine 2) We offer tables inside and outside the restaurant. The portions are very hearty and one of the favorite dishes of the tourists is the herring fillet. The average bill is 10-30 euros. If you want to save money, order a set lunch (menu). It’s much cheaper that way.

Au tu gourmet (rue Republique 32) serves a variety of dishes, including seafood. An average bill is about 10 euros. You must try the fish sandwich, one of the best appetizers.

Entre Terre et Mer (12 Place Hamelin) Restaurant with adjoining terrace. The house specialty is the blue lobster. Average bill: €35-60.

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