Having toured the Abbey yesterday, the morning brings an opportunity to explore the rest of Le Bec-Hellouin. It’s a hasty tour, completed at speed under an ominous sky.
The lighting meanwhile, is rather fabulous.I’m hard pressed to pick a favourite cottage, they’re all so charming, but I am very taken with this purple one, beautifully offset by lavender and colour matched flower boxes.The 12th century Eglise Saint- Andre centres the village, probably appreciated better in yesterday’s light/photo – much bluer sky!It’s not long before the rain comes. It’s a downpour, reminding us quite succinctly, why Normandy is so much greener than its Centre counterpart. We make a dash for the motorhome, biding adieu to Le Bec-Hellouin, enroute to Honfleur, our last stop in France.But not before I capture the thatched farmhouses that edge the village on our drive out.A mere 30 km away, Honfleur greet us with clearer skies and its bustling port.After the peace of this morning, Honfleur’s tourist crush takes a bit of adjustment. Two massive river boats are docked, joined by a third later in the day.It’s our fourth visit to Honfleur. Apart from it being a gorgeous spot, it’s also very conveniently close to Le Havre and the ferry to Portsmouth. Part working port, part artist’s retreat, Honfleur is noted in formal documents from the 11th century. Full of cobbled streets, half timbered and slate fronted houses, despite the tourist masses, Honfleur remains relatively unspoilt. Its Seine estuary and unique light has drawn artists of note through the centuries, including Monet, Turner and Boudin. It still attracts artists today – there’s a thriving community of painters and sculpters displaying their work. The 17th century Vieux Bassin dock is humming along. Centre of Honfleur, it’s surrounded by cafes and restaurants on three sides.And even though we’ve walked these streets many times before, there’s joy to be had walking them once more. We see the Musee de la Marine, housed in a 14th century church:The 19th century carousel is doing a busy trade dockside. And yes, I’ve had a ride, in case you need to ask. There’s Eglise Saint-Catherine, France’s largest wooden church, built in replacement of a church lost during the 100 Year War. The church’s bells were so heavy, they had to be housed in a separate stone tower.At the edge of Le Vieux Bassin sit Honfleur’s historic salt stores. Built from the ramparts that were removed to build the dock, the Greniers a Sel were built in response to an increased need for salt to preserve the cod catch in the 16th and 17th centuries. We discover the less touristy streets,and the 16th century Eglise Saint-Leonard,although exploring it will need to wait until tomorrow – there’s a mass being held when we arrive. I visit some rabbity cushions that I’d very much like to hop home,make some new ground squirrel friends in an antique shop,spot an excellent dog sitting service.and discover a new favourite house.Even on a fourth visit, Honfleur still has secrets to reveal.We eventually call it a day – the evenings are becoming distinctly cooler, a portent of the autumn to come.