Honfleur and Rouen in Normandy are both places we’d managed to miss on previous visits to France so we were keen to visit them.
Honfleur is on the estuary of the Seine and the most popular tourist site in the Normandy.
The reason for this is the Vieux Bassin or old harbour.
It’s a beautiful place with old town houses lining the harbour which is now filled with expensive looking yachts. The surrounding streets have old half timbered houses many of them turned into restaurants. The local speciality is of course seafood, especially moules, which are on the menu everywhere.
We took a short boat trip to see the famous Pont de Normandie but a sudden unexpected squall made for an interesting if damp and rocky experience. We saw less than we expected but the drama was fun.
We did enjoy our visit but once you have seen the buildings and fought through the crowds to find a restaurant seat and maybe sat people watching with a glass of wine you’ve done Honfleur.
Rouen is also a port with medieval half timbered houses in the centre although many of them are very convincing fakes. But there is much more to Rouen and it deserved more time than we could give it. Although there is plenty to see it didn’t feel so full of tourists. Of course it was a rainy day and this might have had something to do with it.
The Gothic cathedral is familiar from a series of paintings by Monet and the other must see sight is the Gros Horloge a fourteenth century clock unsurprisingly in Gros Horloge street.
King Philip the second of France built a castle here after his conquest of Normandy. Only a tower remains and it is used as an escape game room nowadays. The market was interesting, very French and relaxed I could have bought a lot of fun junk if I’d had space in my suitcase.
The choice of thirteen museums means there is something for everyone. There’s fine arts, ceramics, natural history, Joan of Arc, and many more including Le Secq Des Tournelles or wrought iron museum. This was our choice simply because we’d never been to one before. It was a good choice – 16,000 iron objects, scissors, signs, door knockers, armour and almost anything you can think of that can be made of iron. Inside a Gothic church with free entry this was a perfect wet day amusement.
A day with a bit of everything, the best kind.