Honfleur is where impressionism began!

Many art historians believe that Honfleur, Normandy is the place where impressionism originated.

It was here where the young and aspiring Claude Monet and his friend Alfred Sisley began studying light effects under the guidance of their mentor Eugene Boudin.

Honfleur port painted by Boudin
Eugene Boudin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Boudin taught them the new technique of plein-air painting, experiencing the landscape by capturing it on the canvas outdoors (and not within a studio).

This technique violated all traditional academic rules of that time.  It was also in Honfleur, at the Saint-Sime on farm of Madame Toutain, that the impressionist artists first gathered to share their new ideas and skills.

The Charming Town of Honfleur

Today, the main attraction of Honfleur is that it has hardly changed since a century ago, when young impressionists used to set up their easels along the quay and in the neighboring fields.

Honfleur Normandy
The beautiful Vieux Bassin in Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur is a picturesque medieval harbor town. During historical times, ship owners made fortunes from sea trade from this port. From the wealth of trading, the families built high-rise homes, packed tightly next to each other and especially around the Vieux Bassin, the heart of the port.

Today, instead of receiving commercial ships or fishing boats, the Vieux Bassin attracts yachts of the wealthy.

The town’s main square is the heart of this port town. From the square, narrow cobbled-streets radiate in all directions. Wherever you look, it is picture perfect, almost like a painting or postcard.  

Honfleur landscape painted by Claude Monet
Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The small cobbled lanes are lined with pretty boutique and tourist shops and delicatessens selling local produce. The trendy French cafes & restaurants have stretched their outdoor seating onto the streets. The narrow houses, built between 16th and 18th centuries and the cobbled-stone streets all ooze with old time charm.

The Eugene Boudin Museum

There is a wonderful art museum in Honfleur called The Eugene Boudin Museum, located in the old quarter of town. It is devoted primarily to the Honfleur school of painting and artworks of painters of the Seine estuary.

The small museum contains a wonderful collection of paintings by Boudin and his friends, including some Monet landscapes. I highly recommend this lovely museum.

We stayed in Honfleur for three days and used this gorgeous town as our base to visit other villages and towns in this part of Normandy.We stayed in the most delightful bed & breakfast in the old town.

I highly recommend visiting and even staying in this delightful little port town.

Honfleur Normandy
Small cobble-stone streets and quaint old buildings of Honfleur

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Going on a Road Trip to Normandy? Check Out My Tips & Trips of Where to Go & What to See!