Honfleur, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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HONFLEUR
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Honfleur is a commune in the Norman département of Calvados in France, located on the southern bank of the estuary of the Seine, very close to the exit of the Pont de Normandie. It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the école de Honfleur which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement . The Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell-tower separate from the principal building, is the largest church made out of wood in France. read full wikipedia reference about Honfleur, France

Visitors to Honfleur inevitably gravitate towards the old centre, around the Vieux Bassin . At the bassin , slate-fronted houses, each of them one or two storeys higher than seems possible, harmonize - despite their tottering and ill-matched forms - into a backdrop that is only excelled by the Lieutenance at the harbour entrance. This latter was the dwelling of the king's lieutenant, and has been the gateway to the inner town at least since 1608, when Samuel Champlain sailed from Honfleur to found Québec. The church of St-Étienne nearby is now the Musée de la Marine , which combines a collection of model ships with several rooms of antique Norman furnishings (April-June & Sept Tues-Sun 10am-noon & 2-6pm; July & Aug daily 10am-1pm & 2-6.30pm; Oct to mid-Nov & mid-Feb to March Tues-Fri 2-5.30pm, Sat & Sun 10am-noon & 2-5.30pm). Just behind it, two seventeenth-century salt stores , used to contain the precious commodity during the days of the much-hated gabelle , or salt tax, now serve as the Musée d'Ethnographie et d'Art Populaire Normand, filled with everyday artefacts from old Honfleur.

Honfleur's artistic past - and its present concentration of galleries and painters - owes most to Eugène Boudin, forerunner of Impressionism. He was born and worked in the town, trained the 15-year-old Monet and was joined for various periods by Pissarro, Renoir and Cézanne. At the same time, Baudelaire paid visits to the town, which was also home to the composer Erik Satie. There's a fair selection of Boudin's works in the Musée Eugène Boudin , west of the port on place Erik-Satie (mid-Feb to mid-March & Oct-Dec Mon & Wed-Fri 2.30-5pm, Sat & Sun 10am-noon & 2.30-5pm; mid-March to Sept daily except Tues 10am-noon & 2-6pm; 26F/?3.96), and his crayon seascapes in particular are quite appealing here in context, though the Dufys, Marquets, Frieszes and, above all, the Monets are the most impressive paintings on show.

Admission also gives you access to one of Monet's subjects featured in the museum, the detached belfry of the church of Ste-Catherine (daily 9am-6pm). The church and belfry are built almost entirely of wood - supposedly due to economic restraints after the Hundred Years War. The church itself makes a change from the great stone Norman churches, and has the added peculiarity of being divided into twin naves, with one balcony running around both. From rue de l'Homme-de-Bois behind you can see yacht masts through the houses overlooking the bassin and, in the distance, the huge industrial panorama of Le Havre's docks.

Just down the hill from the Musée Boudin, at 67 bd Charles-V, is Les Maisons Satie (daily except Tues: mid-June to mid-Sept 10am-7pm; rest of year 10.30am-6pm; closed Jan; 30F/?4.57), the red-timbered house of Érik Satie. From the outside it looks unchanged since the composer was born there in 1866. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in Normandy's most unusual and enjoyable museum. As befits a close associate of the Surrealists, Satie is commemorated by all sorts of weird interactive surprises. It would be a shame to give too many of them away here; suffice it to say that you're immediately confronted by a giant pear, bouncing into the air on huge wings to the strains of his best-known piano piece, Gymnopédies . You also get to see a filmed reconstruction of Parade , a ballet on which Satie collaborated with Picasso, Stravinsky and Cocteau, which created a furore in Paris in 1917.

  

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