Visitors often feel there's something strangely familiar about the beautiful, traditional Norman port town of Honfleur. Is it just a trick of the magical ever-changing light? No, it's that Honfleur is a particular favourite among Impressionist painters. Local artist Eugene Boudin encouraged his contemporaries down from Paris, and many were inspired by the beauty of this Seine-side region. If you're already under her spell, go straight to our guru's list of recommendations. Otherwise here are some good reasons to visit, and some of the best places to stay in Honfleur to enjoy them.
As well as the charm of the light, Honfleur's architecture must be a pleasure to paint. A lot of it still seems to be timber, propped up by grander stone mansions, and it all fits together along the narrow alleyways in a pleasingly neat way.
Honfleur's official gallery has Monets and Courbets and of course Boudins. Many of them depicting the town in different meteorological states. Honfleur's reputation as a muse means it has a very high rate of galleries per capita. And as well as the studios showing landscapes of Honfleur you can now find all sorts of other art.
Before high tide, Honfleur harbour is a hive of activity as its fleet of fishing boats return. Bringing back today's déjeuner or souper, served in the cafes and restaurants which line the harbour.
The French themselves come here for the food, and the local style (a la normande) is thick, buttery and creamy.
Many of Honfleur's historic sights are in the L'Enclos area around the old port. This is also where you can find the wonderful old buildings of the port authority, now a marine museum and the salt halls.
Sainte-Catherine is the area around the great wooden Sainte-Catherine church, built by ship builders around 1500. It's the largest wooden church in France. This is also where many of the best restaurants and galleries can be found. It's also where they have the big markets.
As well as the Impressionists, Honfleur was also home to composer musician, Satie, and his lively museum is certainly worth a visit.
The Hotel Guru's selection of the best places to stay in Honfleur are perfect bases for getting the best (both culturally and gastronomically) out of this charming seaside spot.
Still not sure which to choose? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Honfleur, or feel free to call or email one of our gurus for advice. Alternatively widen your search and look at all our recommendations in Normandy.
Pretty B&B in former schoolhouse. Rooms feature exposed brick walls, cozy lighting, modern bathrooms and big French windows. Restaurant serving fresh daily breakfasts, sun terrace to enjoy. Walkable to most of the town's delights. A charming Normandy stay.
An intimate B&B on a delightful cobbled street in the harbour town of Honfleur. Various rooms sizes can accommodate groups of friends and families -the self catering cottage sleep five. All bright and airy in ochre tones. Walking distance to all the attractions and restaurants.
A delightful timbered farmhouse with fantastic restaurant. Rustic chic interiors with high wooden beamed ceilings and lots of light. Rooms, suites, and family suites with sumptuous beds chalet-style. A peaceful rural setting for families, groups, or friends.
Charming, former 16th century presbytery in the centre of Honfleur. Individually furnished rooms offer an elegant mélange of wood, leather, velvet and stone and a luxurious whirlpool bath to boot. Come to Honfleur to explore the cobbled streets and the coast littered with WW1 memorials.
An elegant guesthouse situated in it's own large, picturesque garden. The five bedrooms each have their own character and enjoy pretty views of the apple trees. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the garden or on the lovely terrace. A charming base for exploring historic and artistic Honfleur.
A unique hotel B&B set in three different buildings in central Honfleur. Rooms, suites, and a private cottage all beautifully decorated in different styles: rustic farmhouse, Mediterranean, loft conversion. The bathrooms have huge bathtubs, some with private jacuzzis. Fantastic.
A cozy 18th century hotel with undeniable French charm and romance. Airy, elegant rooms, a verdant courtyard and terrace. A cellar spa hot tub and large, lofty suites showcase the hotel's relaxed environment. Close to lots of exciting restaurants in this picturesque northwestern port.
Honfleur (Route du Littoral)
A gorgeous little hotel with chic rooms on the seafront. Large airy rooms and suites with contemporary furnishings and artistic flair. Fabulous restaurant, gardens and terraces, and immediate access to the beach. A great spot for a romantic break.
A fabulous Five Star hotel on the coast of Hornfleur. Top of the range spa with Turkish hammam, a fine dining restaurant, stunning rooms and suites, roof top terrace with sea views. The perfect spot to unwind in, for the luxury traveller.