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Honfleur: One of the Most Beautiful French Towns & 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
Honfleur -Eugene Boudin Painting [Public domain
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.

Honfleur Old Town

Today, the main attraction of the beautiful French town, Honfleur is that it has hardly changed since a century ago. The same views inspired the young impressionists to set up their easels along the quay and in the neighboring fields.

Honfleur Normandy - one of the most beautiful French towns
The beautiful Vieux Bassin in Honfleur, Normandy

Honfleur is a picturesque medieval harbor town. During historical times, ship owners made big fortunes in sea trade from the Honfleur port. From the wealth of trading, the families built high-rise homes in Honfleur, 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 fancy yachts of the wealthy.

Medieval Honfleur - one of the most beautiful French towns
Medieval Honfleur – one of the most beautiful French towns

Honfleur’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 stretch 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 making Honfleur one of the most beautiful French towns!

A Wonderful Honfleur Attraction – The Eugene Boudin Museum

There is a fabulous art museum in Honfleur called The Eugene Boudin Museum, located in the historical center. 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 contemporaries, including some Claude Monet landscapes. I highly recommend this lovely museum.

We stayed in Honfleur for three days as our base for visiting 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 town.

Honfleur Normandy - one of the most beautiful French towns
Small cobble-stone streets and quaint old buildings of Honfleur

Looking for accommodation options in Honfleur, Normandy, press here.

Interested in an organized day trip from Paris to Honfleur? Check out these wonderful options!

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