Honfleur France is one of Normandy’s most appreciated port towns by tourists. Famous for its village-like atmosphere and colorful houses, the old town is charged with history. Considering how it was spared significant damage during WWII, visitors also appreciate its authentic environment. If you are looking for a trip from Paris to Normandy, make sure that it includes a step in the harbour of Honfleur.
Visiting Honfleur France
Just opposite Le Havre, the town of Honfleur is very accessible by route. The heritage of this 14the century fortified town is revealed bit by bit in its various historic neighborhoods. Honfleur France is first and foremost a renowned port zone that traded with the Antilles, Canada, the Acores Islands and Africa during the Renaissance.
Its salt stores is one of many sites to visit. In fact, for a very long time salt was one of the only ways to keep fish fresh. For those who are interested in architecture, Honfleur is home to the largest wooden church in France with a separate bell tower. The Sainte-Catherine church was built on the foundations of a previous construction that was destroyed during The Hundred Years War. The church has been registered as a historical monument since 1879.
If you’re up for visiting an original museum, check out Les Maisons Satie named after the Honfleur native and artist Erik Satie. His life and work are on display, and successfully bring together sound and image in much the same way Satie collaborated with some of the great artists in his time -- Georges Braque, Jean Cocteau, and Pablo Picasso.
Honfleur during WWII in France
About 60-some kilometers from Sword Beach, Honfleur is a port city located in the Calvados region and in the Estuary of the Seine Natural Reserve. Located on the west bank of the Seine, the city didn’t play a role in the Normandy beach landings. The Belgian Prion Brigade liberated the city from occupation.
Operation German Kamikaze
In response to the Allied beach landings on June 6, 1944, the German navy Kriegsmarine took on a suicidal mission; volunteer soldiers boarded speedboats that transported 300 kilos worth of explosives. Otherwise known as the “K-Flottillen,” two attacks were launched at the end of June against Allied forces present in the western part of the Estuary of the Seine. Only one of these boats would accomplish its mission, cannon strikes and machine guns unable to destroy it while en route.
This retaliation attack showed at what point the Germany Army was aware of the significant attacks being carried out on its troops. Surrounded by British troops to the west and Belgian troops to the east, the ports of Honfleur and Le Havre represented an easy opportunity to get to Paris. For many historians, the liberation of Le Havre on September 12, 1944, located on the right bank of the Seine, marked the end of the Battle at Normandy.
The Liberation of Honfleur France
Located at some distance from the first conflict zones in Normandy, the city was hardly damaged during WWII. Honfleur was also spared from the bombings, which was not the case for its neighbor, Le Havre.
The Piron Brigade, named as such for its Colonel Jean-Baptiste Piron, liberated Honfleur from German occupation on August 25, 1944. The following day, power was transferred to the 49th British Division. The Belgian military unit was not only present during the Battle at Normandy but also fought alongside the Allied forces for the liberation of Belgium and Holland.
A Heritage Preserved from War
The Port of Honfleur is appreciated for the colored facades of its buildings. They inspired painters like Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet who created the “School of Honfleur.” The Old Honfleur Basin was depicted countless times until becoming the picturesque view of the city. Covering an area of nearly one hectare, the homes that border the port have been classified as historical monuments since 1933. Once a port dedicated to fishing, it is now a pleasure port that welcomes yachts and sailboats.
The Port of Honfleur was not directly affected by the Normandy beach landings. In fact, it’s one of the rare villages that came out of the war nearly intact. Located in the Estuary of the Seine, the Germany Navy used its port to shelter its troops. The arrival of Allied forces in Le Havre allowed Honfleur to be liberated at the same time.
Location of Honfleur : Normandy, France
Honfleur is located between Le Havre and Deauville, in Normandy, France. The city belongs to the Seine Bay, a lovely natural region. The city and its harbour are about a two-hour drive from Paris.