Wednesday, 10 April 2013


The French harbour of Honfleur has evolved from Medieval fortress, through important commercial port during the Epic Maritime Period, to being a place for painters and the birthplace of Impressionist Art in the 19th century.
Central is the Vieux Bassin, an attractive inner harbour edged by wood framed buildings constructed at a time when the area was surrounded by forests. Maritime history here is closely connected to the great discoveries and the search for new trade routes. This was the point from which many navigators started including the 1608 expedition of Samuel de Champlain.
The Lieutenance is the only building remaining of the medieval fortified town. From the end of the C17th until the French revolution it was used as a lodging for the King’s Lieutenant.
Place Sainte-Catherine has always been a market area, and was traditionally occupied by sailors and therefore highly populated. Its church is a unique timber framed basilica. In 1468 the first nave, then in 1488 a second identical one were built. The central colonnade is of entire oak trees. An 18m square bell tower stands adjacent.
A guided walking tour of the city also spent time perusing the paintings in the Boudin Museum. After lunch on board, excursions drove out of town in two directions. North along the coast Expedition Leader Karin took walkers amidst the dramatic scenery of Etratat. In the opposite direction, a visit to the elegant seafront town of Deauville. The boardwalks on the white sand give the public beach its name Les Planches. Somewhat deserted today in the wind, the bathing huts are for hire. In line with the glamour of the resort, each cubicle is named after a Hollywood filmstar of old.
 On the return, drive through rural Auge, a chance to taste Cider and Calvados produced at a local farm. Its buildings of the style typical of the region.