The Old Fogies go to Honfleur in France

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The last destination on our trip was the charming seaside town of Honfleur in Normandy, its location at the mouth of the Seine estuary before entering the English Channel means it is very popular with visitors exploring the Normandy coast.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The cruise terminal is around one mile from the town and we were greeted with a wonderful sunrise over the incredible Normandy Bridge that stretches across the estuary.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Honfleur is considered one of the most picturesque seaside towns in France and gets quite crowded in high summer, thankfully it was a pleasant spring day as we made our way into the town.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Honfleur’s port has been important throughout its history, it was originally founded by the Vikings and was the scene of plenty of trade with England. It is still a working port and one of the joys of visiting the town is to watch the fishing boats come in with their catch.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

We watched a boat bringing in boxes of scallops and were entertained by one of the boats that looked like it was ready to capsize with its load all on one side.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The most visited part of the town is the Vieux Bassin with its tall wooden buildings providing a lovely backdrop to a small basin of water full of boats. This wonderful scene has been a favourite location for artists , The Honfleur School was an artistic movement involving Monet and Eugene Boudin who was born in the town.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

This art movement is considered a big influence on the Impressionist Movement. This part of Normandy is considered the ‘home’ of Impressionism and has attracted many artists, writers and musicians.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Behind the Vieux Bassin is a labyrinth of narrow streets full of attractive gift shops, art galleries, boutiques and antique shops.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Also in the backstreets is the unique churches of St Catherine which is the largest wooden church in France and St Leonard which has town’s old washhouse nearby.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

We took a walk away from the main town up the Rue des Buttes to look at some of the old houses on the hillside before making our way to the pleasant Jardin du Tripot.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Nearby is the Eugene Boudin Museum and Maison Satie that celebrate the local celebrities.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

As we made back into the town, we looked at the old salt warehouses and sat near the remarkable 1900 Carousel which is still working and had children sitting on a series of strange looking animals.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Honfleur is very popular and it is easy to see why, it is a seaside town full of history. Many of the shops sell local produce like local cheeses, the famous Calvados brandy and Crème de Calvados, a cream liqueur. The old buildings and port have attracted writers and artists for centuries and now attract thousands of visitors every year. Although the town does get crowded, there are plenty of gardens and even a beach to relax.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

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The Old Fogies go to Rouen in France

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Rouen is located on the River Seine and we had travelled overnight the 126 kms from the sea along the meandering river. The cruise terminal is located around 3kms from the city centre in the shadow of the impressive Gustave Flaubert Bridge. Our first view of the cathedral was in the distance as the sun rose over the city.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

In this light, Rouen and the River Seine looked like an impressionist painting .

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Rouen is the capital of the region of Normandy and was one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe. For centuries, Rouen has been an important port on the Seine with goods making there way to and from Paris.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

We were dropped off by shuttle bus in the centre of Rouen and quickly made our way to the cathedral working on the plan that we would enjoy a look around before it got too busy.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Everything about the Cathedral is on a massive scale, its spire rises to a height of 151 metres (nearly 500 feet). Its Gothic style has developed over time, there has been a church on this site since the 4th century which was enlarged by St. Ouen in 650, and visited by Charlemagne in 769. In the 10th century, the Viking leader, Rollo, founder of the Duchy of Normandy, was baptised here in 915 and buried in 932. The heart of Richard the Lionheart is supposed to be enclosed in one of the tombs.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The cathedral has survived lightning strikes, wars, political upheaval and bombs from the Allies in 1944. The cathedral is free to enter and offers the opportunity to really explore the remarkable interior.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Coming out of the cathedral, we made our way to the Gros Horloge which is an astronomical clock dating back to the 14th century. The remarkable timepiece is one of the oldest clock mechanisms in Europe and was in operation from the 14th century up to 1928.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Nearby is the impressive Palais de Justice, which was once the seat of the Parlement (French court of law) of Normandy.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Walking around the city, we were amazed by surviving half-timbered buildings which are often jumbled together lurching here and there. Many of the buildings are used by shops and restaurants that give the city a unique character.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the great French icons is Joan of Arc also known as The Maid of Orléans, Joan claimed to have received visions of the Archangel Michael and others instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination in the 15th century. In 1430, she was captured handed over to the English and put on trial and declared her guilty and she was burned at the stake, she was only about nineteen years of age when she died.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

She was later declared a martyr, a national symbol of France by Napoleon Bonaparte and was declared a saint in 1920.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Where she was burned in the old market square is considered a place of pilgrimage and we decided to make our way to the square. We were surprised there was still a market in the square but it was doing good business selling local produce.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The spot where Joan of Arc was burned is now marked by a large cross next to the modern Saint Joan of Arc church. Inside the church was a surprise, it is remarkably open with large stained glass windows taken from a former church going back too the Renaissance. The whole church is a modern masterpiece based on the plans of architect, Louis Arretche.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

We continued our wanderings, calling into the Hotel De Bourgtheroulde to see some Renaissance plaques, The Hotel de Ville next to Church of Saint Ouen and finally the Museum quarter where we went inside the the Museum of Fine Arts.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

After all the remarkable history and incredible buildings, we decided we would welcome a change of scenery and made our way down to the quays for a bite to eat and a drink. We sat for a while before we made a decision to walk along the quays (around two miles) back to the ship.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

The quays, both sides of the river have been developed with a number of quirky buildings and plenty of bars and restaurants.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

Rouen is a remarkable place to visit with a large number of attractions around the city, many were free to enter, so even if you are on a budget you will not miss out. One day was not enough to explore this charming city and you could combine a trip to the city with a trip to Paris (2 hours by train) or a trip to the Normandy coast.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here