The Normandy town of Honfleur is home to St Catherine’s Church, the largest surviving wooden chapel in France. Built after the Hundred Years’ War by local 15th-century shipbuilders, the “Axe Masters” managed to create the impressive nave without using one saw. A century later, the chapel’s patronage had grown so much that it was decided St Catherine’s Church should be doubled in size. A second identical nave was built to match the first, giving the chapel an interesting “twin” architecture, so when you head inside the church look up at the ceiling—you’ll see it looks just like two upturned boats, which makes sense considering the naval background of its builders.
Dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the church is partially covered in chestnut shingles, while the interior pillars are decorated in colorful flags from around the world. You’ll see light streaming in through the 19th-century stained glass windows, and look out for the church’s classical organ from the parish St Vincent of Rouen, too.
On Place St Catherine in Honfleur, St Catherine Church is open daily. Also, throughout the year, street markets are held in the square outside the church. Honfleur is 37 miles (60 km) from Caen and 15 miles (25 km) from Le Havre.