“If you could go anywhere, where would you go?”
It’s a question I’ve been asked many times in my life, and since an unforgettable European adventure a few years ago, the answer has been the same: Honfleur, France.
Though not nearly as popular as other French hotspots like Paris, Nice, or Versailles, Honfleur remains one of my favorite places on Earth. Just thinking of the quaint little maritime city conjures up images of hearty bowls of fish stew, outdoor markets, timber-framed house-fronts, and taking long strolls along La Morelle as the trees turn to their autumn colors.
A tiny sea port in the North of France, Honfleur offers the warm welcome of a little town. With its picturesque backstreets, beautiful harbor, and its tall, slate-tiled buildings – not to mention the gilded carousel shimmering in the afternoon light – it is truly a sight to behold.
Simultaneously fishing harbor, marina and commercial port, Honfleur has succeeded in making the most of its rich historical and artistic heritage, which also makes it a perfect destination for a Road Scholar program. On our Adventures Afloat program, In the Footsteps of the Great Masters: Impressionism Along the Seine, participants enjoy the unique architecture of the town during a historic excursion through its authentic cobblestoned streets. They also learn why this city has one of the few remaining all-wooden churches and the important role of this city in the settlement of New France in North America.
It’s a town known for its Impressionist painters, and today it’s still brimming with galleries and artists’ studios that continue to display a wide selection of classical and modern paintings. With Road Scholar, you’ll have the chance to discover the Musee Eugene Boudin, named after Honfleur’s most famous painter. Located in a 19th century chapel and two modern extensions, Eugène Boudin Museum houses some 1200 square feet of permanent exhibitions in 9 rooms. With its views over Honfleur and the sea, you’ll be able to gaze over the same changing light on the Seine that inspired Courbet, Monet, and Boudin himself.
The authentic paved streets of Honfleur
Another program we offer, The Allure of France: Paris and Normandy, includes a wonderful day exploring the charming coastal town. I loved wandering around the cobblestone streets, peering into stores and seeing their wares. I visited the Church of Saint Catherine, built by the sailors who returned from sea, which resulted in a spectacular ceiling that resembles an upturned ship hull. There were art and clothing boutiques and seafood restaurants that seemed to be hidden in every winding street.
On top of the wealth of cultural and artistic heritage, it’s also the people that make Honfleur special. Everywhere I turned, there was someone who was happy to meet me and answer any number of questions about local history, restaurants and attractions.
Honfleur is truly an enchanting town to explore and one that will always be near and dear to my heart. We offer dozens of learning adventures in France, but only a few take you to this wonderful maritime treasure. I can’t wait to return, and I hope you’ll discover it with us!
Vice President, Programs