16 May 2016
Today we checked out of our picture perfect chateau to start the drive back to Paris. From the Normandy area to Paris is about 2 and a half hours, without traffic. To break up the trip (and from multiple recommendations) we decided to stop in Honfleur.
Honfleur is a coastal town that is an estuary where the English Channel meets the Seine. The town has been the influence for many painters, including Monet and Boudin, due to the lighting. Also, most of the buildings were built by shipbuilders, and it shows.
We got into town, which seemed extra crowded for a holiday Monday. We sauntered through town taking in the sights. Back in the day (I think the 15th century) people were taxed on how wide their house was. So to be cheeky, people built very tall narrow houses lining the old Harbor, which we learned was a major port for the Hundred Years war.
|Honfluer’s old Harbor|
Per Rick (Steves) there was a can’t miss church in the heart of Honfleur’s old town. Saint Catherine’s Church was built completely of wood by ship builders in the 15th century. You can tell the blood, sweat and salt that went into building this church. The ceiling looks like the inside of a ship and the craftsmanship of the delicate accents is beautiful. You can tell that the church was influenced by the sea. An interesting fact is that the bell tower is actually a separate wooden structure from the church for 2 reasons. First, is because of weight, due to the church being wood, the town’s people were worried it would not be able to with stand the weight. Second, was for fire. If the church went up in flames, since the bell tower is separate, if would (likely) be spared.
|Clock Tower across from front entrance of Church|
|Rear section of Church|
At this point we were hungry and needed to grab lunch. We stopped at a restaurant on the old harbor, Le p’tit Bistrot (almost all the store fronts on the old harbor are restaurants). We both had cafe and omelettes. Towards the end of eating, we started to hear drums. We figured it was for some sort of outside concert. Boy. were we in for a surprise.
We ended up having perfect seats for the La Fete des Marins – Sailors Festival. This is held each Whit Monday and has been going on since 1861. The festival is a gathering of all those linked to the sea. We witnessed the parade from the Notre Dame church to the town center. The parade consisted of small bands (some no more than 10 people), people dressed up in stripped shirts, the local navy unit, and locals with kids carrying large model ships (need 2-4 kids to carry it on a platform) as well as babies in the model ships. Yes there were babies (I’m assuming less than 1 year old) in the model ships that were carried by 4 guys (again on a platform). Some of the babies got into it, waving to the crowd and you could hear to oos and ahhs. Overall, we were in the right place at the right time. (This also explains why there were so many people in town).
|One of the bands in the parade|
|All the people lined up to watch|
|End of the parade everyone gathering at Hotel de Ville (The Town Hall)|
After the parade, we headed out to make our way back to Paris to get ready for the week. We got back, dropped the car off, hoped on the metro and were home very easily. We started to get ready for the rest of the work week. We did indulge on the new GoT episode. Holy Mother of Dragons!
Step count: 9,108, 6.06km
What I learned this week:
1) When seeing the sights, hope for a mediocre weather day
2) Michelin Star restaurants are no joke, but be prepared for a long meal
3) Rick Steve’s is my new BFF
4) The churches in Euroupe are awe inspiring
5) Everyone needs to visit Normandy, period
6) I hate ants with a passion