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Honfleur France French Holidays

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The Pont de Normandie stretches across the Seine estuary from Le Havre, making the 'Norman Riviera' almost too accessible and contributing to the devaluation of towns such as Trouville, Deauville and Honfleur. Of this triptych only Honfleur retains its old world charm and, although merely ten minutes' drive from Le Havre, it is a far prettier town.

To reach Honfleur you have to drive or take a bus as the nearest train station is at Pont L'Éveque, with a bus link (#50, dir. Lisieux) to Honfleur.

The Vieux Bassin is now only used by pleasure and fishing boats, but fishermen's wives still sell fish straight from the boats and on the pier. The bvd Charles V used to be on the seafront, but as the sea is now much further out the 18th century houses seem to lean towards it. In fact, Honfleur's houses look like they might topple over at any time! There are no hotels overlooking the harbour, most of the buildings are cafés, bars or crêperies along the bvd Charles V. Hotel prices are higher than average here so for budget accommodation look elsewhere and take a day trip to Honfleur. The Tilbury at 30 place Hamelin (02 31 98 83 33) has rooms for €40 55, or the upmarket Loges at 18 rue Brulée costs €85 100.

The magnificent Lieutenance at the harbour entrance marks the way to the inner town and is where the king's lieutenant lived. In 1608 Samuel Champlain set sail from here to found Québec. Two museums with a combined ticket (€3.80) set out Honfleur's history: the église St Étienne houses the Musée de la Marine (a mixture of model ships and antique furniture) and two 17th century salt stores contain the Musée du Vieux Honfleur and numerous local artefacts.

Eugène Boudin is responsible for putting Honfleur on the artistic map. Born here, he trained the young Monet, and the Musée Eugène Boudin (€5) contains over 50 of his works, with contemporary exhibitions too.

The wooden church of Ste Catherine has two naves joined by a single balcony and is definitely worth a look. However, if giant pears with wings dancing to Satie's Gymnopédies is more your idea of fun, see it in action at Les Maisons Saties on bvd Charles V, where €5 gets you into the composer's surreal house.

The best restaurant near to the harbour is Le Vieux Honfleur, 13 quai St Étienne (02 31 89 15 31), with its alfresco dining and menus from €27. La Fleur de Sel, 17 rue Haute (02 31 89 01 92) has gourmet menus from €22 39. La Tortue, 36 rue de l'Homme de Bois (02 31 98 87 91) offers a five course menu for €15.50, and has a €12 vegetarian menu.