Famously painted by artists, such as Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, and Eugene Boudin, the picturesque waterfront and colorful harbor of Honfleur are among the most memorable in Normandy. The historic port is renowned for its architecture, especially Vieux Bassin harbor’s 16th-century buildings and the wooden church of Sainte Catherine.
Strategically located at the mouth of the Seine River, facing the Port of Le Havre, Honfleur is a popular destination for cruise passengers, as well as day-trippers from Paris. On a day tour from Caen or Bayeux, a visit to Honfleur is often combined with Normandy towns, such as Pays d’Auge, Deauville, and Trouville. Alternatively, art fans can follow in the footsteps of Impressionists by pairing a visit to Honfleur with a tour of Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny.
Multi-day tours of Normandy from Paris also often include a stop at Honfleur, en route to D-Day beaches, the Loire Valley, or Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Honfleur’s small size makes it easy to get around town on foot.
- Many shops and attractions are closed on Sundays and daily between 12–2pm, especially outside of the main tourist season.
- Honfleur’s tourist information office is located along Quai Lepaulmier, a short walk from the Vieux Bassin.
How to Get There
Honfleur is located northwest of Paris on the Normandy coast. There is no direct public transport from Paris, but trains run to nearby Le Havre, from where buses and taxis cross the Seine to Honfleur.
When to Get There
Honfleur is at its busiest in July and August, and hotels and restaurants along the main waterfront can book up quickly. The most atmospheric time to visit is on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, when a lively market runs along Cours des Fossés up to Place Sainte-Catherine.
Honfleur’s Art Heritage
When 19th-century landscape artist Boudin brought Monet to Honfleur, it started an art legacy lasting to this day. Honfleur’s stunning waterfront is said to have inspired Monet to begin painting landscapes. Soon, artists, such as Courbet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-August Renoir, flocked to paint or sketch the pretty quays. Today, Honfleur still attracts artists and has a number of art galleries plus the Boudin Museum, where Boudin, Monet, and Courbet’s works are on display.