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Honfleur is a picturesque harbour town in France's Normandy region, famous for its ever-changing light quality which brought such Impressionist luminaries as Monet and Boudin to its streets. Today, visitors who prefer their artistic works to be of the digitally created kind will be no less wowed by the town and it really is a great place in which to brush up on your photographic skills. Not just a picture postcard, Honfleur offers a number of engaging cultural attractions and sights of architectural interest, too.
As well as occupying a key coastal position, Honfleur sits at the mouth of France's key river, the Seine so, throughout history, it has always been a strategically significant port. It prospered during the Hundred Years' War, though was taken by the English in 1357 and again in 1419 until 1450. After the war, maritime trade brought much business and it continued to flourish until the French revolution and the trade blockade Napoleon's First Empire introduced curtailed its ability to trade. These days, most trade comes into the region by way of the modern port of Le Havre, leaving Honfleur to flourish as a popular tourist destination.
Honfleur's picture-perfect harbour is central to its history and is a great place to explore, boasting a number of historic port authority buildings as well as places to eat and drink. Once you leave the waterfront however, you'll find a number of other engaging cultural attractions further inland. Saint Catherine's Church is undoubtedly the must-see structure in Honfleur and is France's largest surviving wooden church. Its wooden nature gives it a Norwegian look but the maritime influence is clearly evident, in that its ceiling resembles the hull of an upturned ship. Another popular church to visit is the altogether more traditional Notre Dame de Grace; an intimate Catholic place of worship that's sits atop a hill. It involves quite a climb to get there, so as a result, it's rarely over-run by tourists, which makes it a great place for some quiet contemplation.
The aforementioned artistic pedigree of Honfleur is best experienced with a trip to the Musee Eugene Boudin, which is a must for art lovers and contains a number of the artist's works as well as a number of paintings by his fellow impressionists. The Musee du Vieux Honfleur, meanwhile is a quirky and convincingly authentic journey through the port's past, with re-created shops and streets and a small nautical museum. An altogether different experience which has nothing to do with the town's history but is great if you're visiting with the kids or are a nature lover is Naturospace. This indoor tropical rainforest is home to many species of butterfly, which flutter through the foliage, certain to brighten up any visitor's day.
Honfleur is a great place to go to enjoy the market shopping experience. Visit on a Saturday and you'll have chance to browse the wares on offer in the traditional market or in the harbour area, the fish market, while Wednesday's the turn of the bio market. If you're an art collector, you'll find plenty of galleries in Honfleur in which to purchase your latest acquisition.
Honfleur boasts over 100 restaurants, so you'll have no problem finding somewhere to eat. Seafood is understandably a big deal here and there are some great choices when deciding where to eat, from the trendy to the downright traditional.
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