In April, my family set out on an adventure around the Normandy region of France. We had 4 home bases during our trip. One of those home bases, for 5 nights, was in Honfleur, France. Honfleur is located in the northern part of the lower Normandy region and is situated right on the Seine river. In fact, getting there from Paris was a lot of fun. We snaked back and forth over the Seine the whole way! Honfleur is a harbor town and is still very much active in the fishing industry. When I was planning our vacation, I was really drawn to all of the pictures floating around Pinterest of this little town and ultimately that’s why I chose for my family to stay there for a few nights. And boy, it did not disappoint! My husband and I joked that Honfleur is so much like the coastal town we live in, except for that it’s in France, we absolutely loved our stay. With that being said, it is my opinion that Honfleur can be explored to the fullest in one day. It makes a great home base and we loved our day adventure here and then spending the rest of the time taking day trips from it. We did, however, come back for dinner and a walk along the harbor almost every night which made for some really pretty pictures.
Something that I love about visiting towns in France is that all of them have a tourism office. There’s usually at least one English speaking person that works there and they can tell you about all kinds of activities that are going on in the town. We hit almost every tourism office during our trip, they really are a hidden gem – I highly recommend you do this too if you ever go to France. So our first stop of the morning was, of course, the tourism office. There we picked up a walking audio guide for a couple of Euros. This took us on a guided walk, in English, around the town. What’s great about these audio guides is you can do it at your own pace since you’re not with a group. This tour took us to see the main historical spots in Honfluer like the old harbor and port buildings, one of the oldest wooden churches in France and a wooden bell tower. The highlight for my daughter, was of course the carousel right on the water. The tour took us all over the old town and down side streets I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. That’s the best part of tours like this, discovering the hidden gems. The tour can last as long as long as you’d like, but we found 2.5 hours was plenty of time to explore. This took us right in to lunch time which was great because we passed so many boulangeries on the tour, we had fun trying to find the one we thought looked best!
After lunch, we went back to the apartment to freshen up. It’s easy to run back when staying in small towns where everything is walkable. Even though Addie enjoys sightseeing at old buildings and churches and is always well behaved, I try to balance the day out with activities that give her a little bit more freedom. That afternoon, we headed to what’s called the Naturospace Center. It’s a tropical indoor garden where butterflies and birds roam freely. It’s relatively inexpensive and you can spend as much time as you’d like exploring. At first Addie was a little nervous about the butterflies landing on her, not sure if she thought they were different than the ones we have at home but it was cute seeing her reaction. We spent a little over an hour enjoying the garden trying to catch butterflies and dodging birds. We could have spent more time there but it’s very humid inside and even though we were cold when we got there, we were sweating when we left.
After an activity that was more for Addie, it was time for the grown ups to have fun too. Before we left for our vacation, using the tourism office’s website (again, great resource!), I saw that there was a wine tasting festival not too far from where we were staying. Turns out, it was about a 5 minute walk from our apartment. While nobody really spoke English, we had a lot of fun sampling wines and ciders from all different regions in France. The event cost us 3 euros per adult, kids were free, and we got souvenir wine tasting glasses to use and take home. Even though it was mostly wine, Addie sampled several apple juices from booths and we even bought some for breakfast the next morning. Everything I have experienced in France has been so kid friendly, and they just seem to love her there. Maybe because we try our best at speaking as much French as possible and botch just about every word, I don’t know. Keep in mind, if you’re in France and drink a lot of wine, you might need a jumbo baguette to soak it all up with!
After the wine tasting, it was dinner time. Restaurants line the harbor, the hardest part is choosing which one to go to. Every restaurant has the menu posted in both English and French outside the door, so feel free to browse the menu before you sit down. Honfleur is known for it’s mussels and frites (french fries) so that’s exactly what my husband and I had. Looking back, my daughter liked her food too but wishes she would have ordered what we got. We enjoyed our meal so much, we actually went to the same restaurant later in the week. It was chilly during our vacation, but we still wanted that french experience of sitting outside on the bistro tables looking outside. It’s just so frenchy, right? What’s nice is most restaurants were providing blankets on every stool to wrap up in and had lots of heaters placed around. The whole experience was just so fun. Don’t forget, if you order water in France, it’s always bottled and expensive if you don’t ask for a carafe of tap water instead. Asking for “une carafe d’eau s’il vous plaît” was my husbands most used phrase the entire vacation. It’s a big money saver.
And of course, after dinner we can’t forget about dessert. We stumbled upon this little creperie the first night we were there and visited it every night we were in Honfleur. The owners and employees were so nice and once they saw us come back night after night, it was like we were family. We sampled a different crepe every night but my favorite one was the salted caramel with almonds and a heavy cream drizzle – yummy. I highly recommend visiting La Cidrerie if you ever are in Honfluer, it’s a wonderful place with a great family friendly atmosphere. Every night, Addie colored them a picture and they proudly hung it up in the restaurant for everyone to see. She loved it!
After dinner and dessert, there are tons of little shops to weave in and out of on the way back to the apartment which was great because clearly I needed to walk off dinner and dessert before I laid down for the night. Honfleur felt like a very safe area to me. The people were friendly and I had no problem with Addie skipping ahead down the street a little bit. I couldn’t have been happier with picking Honfleur as our home base while we explored this area of France and really enjoyed all it had to offer. We’ve already talked about visiting again the next time we are in France and maybe even one day purchasing an apartment to rent out to vacationers – hey, a girl can dream right!