Sometimes you stop en route for lunch, you feel you might have seen the best bits of a town from the restaurant window. Other times you leave, wishing you had been able to spend more time there to explore. Honfleur definitely falls into the second category.
I stopped there a few years back on my way to Brittany. We had taken the Channel tunnel over and were driving the 570km (350 miles) to a village in the département of Morbihan, to visit the mother of a friend of ours.
Honfleur seemed ideally placed to break the journey. It’s situated in the north-eastern corner of Calvados, in Lower Normandy.
We stopped in the Vieux Bassin for lunch by the quayside. It was getting on for two o’clock but one of the restaurant owners was happy to stay open a bit longer for us.
The fresh fish on the menu proved to be particularly good. I guess that shouldn’t have come as a surprise: the town is a thriving fishing port and its harbour is packed with small fishing boats.
The town is also popular with painters and there were a few out that day capturing views of the quayside with its tall, slate-fronted buildings.
Locals are used to this. Honfleur has long been associated with artists – in fact, painters such as Claude Monet and Eugène Boudin were among those who set up the École de Honfleur, which helped to establish Impressionism.
Unfortunately, we had to leave after lunch to continue our journey, so I missed out on sights such as the Sainte-Catherine church, France’s largest church made out of wood, as well as a wander along the town’s cobbled shopping streets.
Ah well. Next time, maybe.