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Useful information for excursions in and around Honfleur
In the following, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in and around Honfleur.
The most beautiful sights in Honfleur
Honfleur is a French municipality of Normandy in the Département Calvados. The city is located at the mouth of the Seine in the English Channel. The city is a seaport with 8,000 inhabitants. It is considered to be the most beautiful city in the region with a very special flair. Honfleur is a suitable starting point for excursions to beautiful Normandy. In only a few hours you can reach Paris, the capital of France. But also Honfleur itself offers many sights worth seeing.
The small harbour town of Honfleur
Honfleur originated in the 11th century and, thanks to its geographical position, has developed into an important estuary and seaport. Parts of the old city walls still show that the small town was occupied by the English for more than 40 years in the Hundred Years’ War. After the war, Honfleur became an important harbour city.
The city does not only impress by its picturesque charm, but also by the fact that it is in itself a small fishing village. Nevertheless, the municipality offers impressive buildings, like the oldest wooden church in France, Saint Catherine’s Church. The church, which is almost entirely made of wood and has stained glass windows, was built in the 15th century by shipwrights and has a separate bell tower. In the Saint Catherine district, you can stroll through the galleries, antique shops and fine boutiques or visit the weekly market in front of the church.
With its picturesque atmosphere, Honfleur is a centre for art and culture. Many famous painters such as Boudin, Pissaro, Sisley and Claude Monet came to the Ferme Saint-Siméon, considered the birthplace of Impressionism, and were inspired by the city. It is also the birthplace of the artists Eugene Boudin and Erik Satie. Today, in the Eugene Boudin Art Museum, you can see works that reflect life in the city and around the mouth of the Seine. In particular, the harbour basin “Le Vieux Bassin” with its adjacent fishing boats is a popular motif for many painters. The houses around the harbour are listed and are characterised by impressive architecture with narrow barrels and slate roofs. To the east of the harbour basin, there are the Greniers à sel, two warehouses built in 1670 to store salt and now home to changing exhibitions of contemporary artists. The building itself is worth seeing for its impressive ceiling design, which looks like a ship construction. Many artists still gather in the municipality today and tourists have the opportunity to take a walk and visit many small studios free of charge.
The oldest church, Saint Etienne, which houses a marine museum with a collection of models and objects, as well as the Musée de la Marine (Museum of the Marine), which provides information on maritime trade, fishing and shipbuilding, is also worth a visit. If you need to relax, you can go to Butin beach, along the coastal road towards Deauville. The beach is best reached by car.
The city centre of Le Havre
The main attraction of Le Havre is the rebuilt town centre. The city centre was largely destroyed during the Second World War. In the years after the war, it was rebuilt according to the plans of Auguste Perret. Concrete became the main element of the reconstruction. Auguste Perret saw in this material a building material of the future and developed his principle of the ‘order of reinforced concrete’. He built long road axes, wide boulevards and beautiful parks. Well-structured skyscrapers characterise the centre. It was the only city ensemble of the 20th century in Europe to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005.
The Church of St. Joseph is considered the masterpiece of Perret. It has a 107-metre-high concrete tower and is also the memorial to the victims of the liberation of France in 1944.
Perret also designed the town hall, also called “Hotel de Ville”. It is located on the largest town hall square in Europe. The town hall belongs to the extraordinary buildings of the reconstruction and has a 72 m high tower with 18 floors, as well as a 92 m long middle building. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame is also located in the city centre. A view into the interior is highly recommended, as one can see the play of lights of the colourful ornamental windows there.
The Pont de Normandie is a bridge construction with a length of 856 metres. It is the connection between Honfleur and the city of Le Havre and one of the longest bridges in Europe. Within 30 minutes you can reach the other city via the largest of all cable-stayed bridges.
Due to its proximity to Paris, some cruise passengers take the opportunity to travel to the capital. The city is known for its fashion, art and culture, and its impressive sights make it an attractive place to visit. Due to the approx. 2.5 to 3-hour drive per route (approx. 200 km), the stay in Paris is indeed limited, but a short visit is nevertheless worthwhile.
Visit the main attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, the Centre Georges-Pompidou, the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre.
Monastery mountain Mont-Saint-Michel
Mont-Saint-Michel is a monastery island located in the bay of the same name in the Wadden Sea, about 200 kilometres from Le Havre. The bay is the scene of Europe’s strongest tides, which regularly turn the monastery mountain back into an island. Mont-Saint-Michel is famous for its Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, which is located on the mountain. Since 1979 the bay and the mountain have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The mountain is visited not only annually by tourists, but also by countless pilgrims who are on the Way of St James. The abbey is characterised by a Norman architectural style and offers a viewing platform with a panoramic view over the bay of Normandy. The village is characterised by medieval architecture with narrow, steep streets and stone houses.
Étretat & the Chalk Cliffs
Étretat is a French municipality in the Normandy region, 25 kilometres from Le Havre. Étretat lies on the English Channel and is famous for its steep cliffs. These unique chalk rock formations belong to one of the most impressive places in Normandy. These include the three rocks, Falaise d’Armont, Manneporte and Porte d’Aval. The highest point of these is 90 metres. Many artists travelled the coast in the 19th century and were inspired by the bright light and the magnificent rock formations. A rock front is reminiscent of an elephant dipping its trunk into the sea. You can not only walk on the rocks and enjoy the unique view but also take a walk on the surrounding beach. This Norman-style town has many souvenir shops and restaurants. You can also visit the beautiful garden of Les Jardins d’Étretat, made up of sculptures.
D-Day Landing Beaches
On 6 June 1944 the allied troops of Americans, British and Canadians landed on the beaches of Normandy. 175,000 soldiers fought on the French coast against the German Wehrmacht. The code name for the Operation Overlord and to liberate Europe by National Socialism was D-Day. In five coastal sections, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, the Allies moored in about 2727 ships and fought the bloody battles.
Omaha Beach is the most famous coastal section. Today, you can visit the Liberation Memorials on the beach and in its vicinity. Not far from Omaha Beach you can visit the Overlord Museum, which has personal belongings of individual soldiers and armoured vehicles. At the Normandy American Cemetery, you can see the walls of the missing and the exhibition in the visitor centre. At the Pointe du Hoc you will find old bomb craters and underground bunkers as well as an important monument.
Map of the Cruise Port in Honfleur
When your cruise ship enters the small port of Honfleur, you will immediately notice the mighty Pont de Normandie bridge. The bridge, completed in 1996, connects Honfleur with the neighbouring town of Le Havre and is over 2 km long. The harbour of the village is relatively small and only used by small cruise ships. The port offers two berths for cruise ships with a maximum length of 180 and 260 metres respectively. At the mooring Pier Quai de Seine there is a small modern cruise terminal with an information stand and a souvenir shop.
From the actual industrial port, the small town of Honfleur is just over a kilometre away. Therefore you have the possibility to reach the centre on foot. In addition, there is often a shuttle bus between the landing stage and the town centre. For further information, please contact the tourist information desk located in the small cruise terminal.
Useful Facts for Shore Excursions in Honfleur
Operators and routes
Honfleur is a port of destination especially on the North Sea or metropolitan route. The latter especially because of the proximity and accessibility of Paris. An example of such a metropolitan route with AIDAcara is: from Gran Canaria via Lanzarote, Lisbon, Leixoes (Porto), A Coruna, Honfleur (Paris), Dover (London), Antwerp to Hamburg.
Besides AIDA Cruises, Honfleur will be served by Hapag Llyod Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Ponant and Transocean Cruises. The port is generally less frequented than Le Havre, as only smaller cruise ships can moor here.
Entry and visa
UK, Canadian and US citizens do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area of countries in Europe for tourism business stays under ninety (90) days.
Please make sure, to bring a valid passport with you, which extends at least 90 days after your initial arrival in the Schengen area.
In France, the Euro is used as currency, so a currency exchange is therefore required. (1 dollar = 0.86 euro and 1 pound = 1.11 euro)
Taxi and public transport
If you want to explore the area of Honfleur by bus, you have the option to walk from the harbour to the bus station. The best route is along the canal to Place de la Gare. There you can cross the canal and find the bus stop a few metres to the left. If you prefer to take a taxi, you will also find taxi drivers there, who you can contact. The 30-minute drive to Le Havre costs between 45 and 60 €.
Trips to Paris are best organised. Shore excursions to Paris on your own are not worthwhile due to the great distance to the port. The outward journey already lasts 2 to 3 hours, which is why the stay time in France’s capital is limited. Since you must be back in Honfleur before the cruise ship departs, organised tours will help you get back on time.
The temperate climate in Honfleur means mild summer months and rainy winters. The climate in Honfleur is temperate and warm and therefore ideal for a city break from June to September. The average annual temperature is between 10 and 12 degrees.
The high season for cruise ships is from April to October.
Port authority and tourism organisation website
Impressions from Honfleur & surroundings
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