Honfleur is a small coastal town in northwestern France that can be reached by cruisers coming by both ocean and river ships. The ocean ship pier sits on the Seine, and the smaller ships on Seine river cruise itineraries in France can navigate right into the center of the coastal town through the Morelle Canal that reaches the ancient Norman port area.
The quaint village in the Normandy region sits at an estuary where the Seine connects to the English Channel. Honfleur also is across the waterway from Le Havre and is a wonderful cruise destination because of it small-port charm and 1,000 years of history on display.
Here is our guide for your cruise visit to Honfleur, France.
A Postcard-Worthy Port
Honfleur has more than 1,000 years of history and is known for its Medieval architecture, cobbled alleys and the half-timber, slate-covered homes that line the Old Port, the Vieux-Bassin. The city inspired legions of impressionist painters, including Claude Monet and Eugene Boudin, who each came to document the unique beauty of the city.
Gateway to Normandy
This port offers a gateway to the beaches at Normandy. Cruise excursions from here take about nine or 10 hours to go there and back, but this stop offers travelers the chance to visit the sites and learn the history of the D-Day invasions just up the coast that turned the tide for the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.
Who Goes There?
Both ocean and river ships call at Honfleur, so you can pick your preferred style. Crystal Cruises, Silversea, Azamara, Windstar and Ponant are luxury lines that visit regularly. # and CroisiEurope offer Seine river cruises that pull right into Honfleur’s Old Port.
Walk or Run to Town (and the Beaches)
The ocean cruise pier has a well-marked path that guides visitors right into the town. It’s a less than 25-minute walk until you reach the Vieux-Bassin. This old Norman port is notable by the marina filled with yachts and the tall narrow buildings surrounding the quays. You can continue to walk or run to town and right on through to the promenade that leads all the way to the beach area. If you’re a runner, you will enjoy the easy two miles to get to the beach as it goes along the city canal, the Seine and past the Jardin des Personnalites on the way to Plage du Butin and Honfleur Beach.
You actually can’t miss the Normandy Bridge, a stunning white span that reaches more than a mile across the Seine to connect Le Havre and Honfleur. The Normandy Bridge is an icon of the region.
St. Catherine’s Church is the most popular attraction. The 15th century Catholic cathedral is the largest and oldest wooden church in France. The double-roofed structure is a rebuild after the original church was destroyed in the 100 Years War. The town’s shipbuilders constructed the cathedral from wood gathered at a nearby forest.
Notre Dame de Grace is a lovely chapel that dates to the 17th century. Inside, decor includes lovely paintings and ship models. The esplanade outside the chapel offers panoramic views of the Seine.
Le Jardin des Personnalites (the Garden of Personalities) is an exquisitely maintained city park filled with sculptures honoring significant people who have lived in our spent time in Honfleur. These personalities include Monet and other painters, artists, navigators and historical figures. The park is located at the edge of town and along the promenade. It offers a great place for a picnic on a sunny day and is an ideal spot to have a walk around and escape the crowds when the town is bustling with visitors.
Honfleur boasts a fine culinary scene, with Michelin-star restaurants and scores of delightful creperies, cafes and wine bars. The town also features art galleries, museums and plenty of shops to buy items such as Calvados, an apple or pear brandy indicative of the Normandy region.
Staying overnight? Try one of Honfleur’s jazz clubs.
Brought to you by Cruise Compete. CruiseCompete.com allows you to easily compare multiple offers from Cruise Experts