Honfleur in a Day
Hello and welcome to this edition of my series in How to do a port visit. This particular blog is designed to show how easy it is to spend a day in the picturesque port of Honfleur when on a cruise ship visiting Le Havre.
Having made the decision to visit Honfleur then the only real question is ‘How do you want to get there’?
There are currently three different ways.
Firstly most cruise ships provide an excursion coach. This comes at a price that will usually include a guide and is ideal for those who are interested in the finer historical and cultural points of Honfleur.
Secondly, there is currently a ‘private’ coach shuttle which departs Place Perret in the centre of town and can be booked on line through ‘Bee Le Havre. Their current 2023 price is €26 per person return.
Thirdly, and this is the way my wife and I chose, is to use public transport. There is a direct bus service from the Le Havre Central Bus Station…
…which is at the rear of the rail station above, as indicated by the arrow.
The Central Bus Station is an approximate 20 minute walk from the cruise terminal, as indicated below…
But, first check the swing bridge is not ‘Open’…
…prior to leaving the ship. Once across the swing bridge turn right then left at the second swing bridge and follow the road into town…
As indicated earlier, when you reach the rail station the bus station is to the rear and tickets can be purchased from the ticket office indicated here…
The buses run every hour and, surprise, surprise, you can get TWO Returns to Honfleur for €15.70 which my credit card statement informed me was £13.39…
The bus ride to Honfleur takes approximately 30 minutes and is in itself interesting, taking you over the Pont de Normandie…
….before arriving at Honfleur’s bus depot, the Gare Routière de Honfleur…
The Honfleur bus depot is some 250 metres from the tourist centre of the town, the central iconic Le Vieux Bassin ….
As one can see, we were there in December and the winter weather wasn’t exactly the brightest and the scene in the summer months is a few degrees more colourful…
…and the place certainly more busy: not that either season in any way detracts from Honfleur’s charm. It’s a classic French small port that has kept its landmarks virtually untouched by the passage of time while becoming one of France’s most visited towns.
The walk from the bus station is pleasant, littered with cafes and restaurants that give the visitor an incline into the town’s charm…
…with the odd painted wall murals.
On our visit we used the small inner harbour as a reference point for our visit and enjoyed circumnavigating the quay sides checking out the restaurants, one of which would later have our patronage…
To add to the character there was often a gallery, interspersed between the restaurant monopolies…
Now that one particularly warranted a closer look….
Set back from Le Vieux Bassin there is a maze of quirky streets worth an exploration…
…many with further selections of restaurants….
In this area there are also some interesting and unique buildings including the largest wooden church in France, Saint Catherine’s….
….built in the 15th century & covered in chestnut shingles and with its rather unique detached bell tower…
A further short distance and there is a pleasant promenade walk along the banks of the River Morrelle which, not far from the inner harbour entrance, flows into the English Channel….
Following the promenade back towards Honfleur another historic building is observed, the medieval La lieutenance d’Honfleur…
This large house was built for the king’s representatives and served also to guard the port….
It was now time for us to make the choice of a restaurant for our lunch. A rather difficult decision to make really when so many were on offer. However, there was one we had spotted quite early on and we headed there, to the harbour corner and the Chez Pieviot…
On offer were two of our favourites, Oysters and Moules Frites…
An excellent spot and a pretty good wine to join us….
…and, just like that, gone….
Next up, the Moules frites….
A perfect lunch in Honfleur…
On our walk from the bus station we had noted on the opposite side an area known as Le Quartier Saint Leonard…
Leading up to the church behind the notice above is a statue, Le souvenir aux Français aux Soldats et Marin du Canton mort pour la patrie….
The bronze sculpture represents a woman with a sword in her right hand, her left hand resting on the prow of a boat with the coat of arms of the town.
It remembers those from Honfleur who died in the Franco-Prussian War, or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870. It was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia
There are a number of other interesting sites in the area, the main one being the Saint Léonard Church…
…which is named after Leonard, a young man of the court of Clovis , and now the patron saint of prisoners. The ancient church of Saint-Léonard has existed at the location since around 1186.
Located in the heart of the suburb of the same name, the original church was destroyed during the Hundred Years War (us British get the blame) , it was rebuilt at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries.
There are some colourful homes in the district…
From the Saint Leonard Quarter it was less than a 10 minutes walk to the bus station, where we headed for our return journey to Le Havre, more than satisfied with our day out.
Honfleur is a typical old French fishing port – delightfully enchanting with a scenic harbour and character to match. The old town is outstanding to amble around with cobbled streets, colourful half timbered homes, art galleries and so many restaurants that one could easily lose count. Whilst those restaurants on the harbour quayside offer the best views and atmosphere there are many more away from the quayside that easily offer better value.
Easily achievable by public transport while on a day’s cruise ship visit to Le Havre, Honfleur is one of the most popular coastal destinations in France and well worth a visit.
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Disclosure to potential conflict of interest:
It is common throughout the travel industry for travel journalists and many cruise bloggers to be provided with complimentary cruises for the purpose of their reviews.
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Excellent review Richard, it brought back many memories of our day there in 2016. 👍🏼
Thank you so much for this lost valuable insight of the tour.
Take good care and give our best regards to “Mrs Solent Richard”.
Thank you so much for this most valuable insight of the tour.
Take good care and give our best regards to “Mrs Solent Richard”.
Excellent review once again Richard, it brought back many memories of our visit in 2016. I have several photos that are almost taken from the same spot. 👍🏼
Excellent review once again Richard, it brought back many memories of our visit in 2016. 👍🏼
As usual Solent Richard, great review!
Love the deck shoes as in orange with blue laces
As usual a lovely review
Learned about a new place
We also enjoyed a lovely day touring around Honfleur a few years ago and will be there again in June 2023. Enjoyed reading your post.