Friday, April 11, 2014

Exploring Normandy and Ypres: Battle Plan Day 1 {Part 2}

Last Friday when we left off we had made it to France and were now about to get back on the road after our picnic lunch... {if you missed that post you can read it here
Our first planned stop on the Battle Plan was to visit the charming little town of Honfleur and I was really looking forward to getting there to show L around because I was so taken with the town from a visit a few years earlier. 

Along the way we went over the Pont de Normandie which held the record for being the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world until 2004. It is also now is the bridge with the sixth longest distance between piers for any cable-stayed bridge in the world {piers are 250 m or 820 ft apart!}. It opened in 1995 and crosses the river Seine between Le Havre and Honfleur. In addition to the motorway it also has a footpath and cycle lane although I'm not sure how safe I'd feel up there crossing on a really windy day!

Pont de Normandie

Just before crossing the bridge we drove by the road that turned off to go into Le Havre and we were quite tempted to take a quick run into town to pop in on our colleagues at that branch of our company. Imagine their surprise if their colleagues from other countries just happened to stop by! Quelle surprise!  In the end we decided it was best to keep going as we had lots to see... besides with a good 30 minutes to do a round of bisous, bisous {kiss, kiss} in the office it wouldn't have been a quick visit!

Vieux-Bassin of Honfleur - photo by L (photo can be enlarged if clicked on)

There is a ton of history and beauty in Honfleur and I would recommend to anyone who visits this part of France to make it a stop along the way. You can get a nice taste of it in about an hour {though I'd like to return for a night or two to just enjoy sitting in a café and watching the sun set}. This is a town that has been painted many times by artists such as Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet and you will still see artists with their easels set up today along the Vieux-Bassin {old dock}. Is it any wonder really? Besides the picture perfect view of the whole harbour there are historic half-timbered buildings, the wooden Sainte-Catherine church with its separate bell tower, and the Lieutenance, just to name a few things. This town is one you can just wonder around and take lots and lots of photos. Which is precisely what we did on our visit.

La Lieutenance
Porte de Caen - photo by L

As we came into the town we were at the end of the Vieux-Bassin where la Lieuntance is situated.  Back in the 17th century this stone building was once the residence of the King's Lieutenant. On one side of the building is the Porte de Caen which was a gate into the city and part of its fortifications. 

Honfleur also has a historical link to my home country of Canada as it was from here in 1608 that an expedition organized by Samuel de Champlain left and went on to found the city of Québec.

Sainte Catherine's church - photo by L

We then wandered up through the narrow cobblestone streets to Sainte Catherine's church which is the largest wooden church with a separate bell-tower in France. It was built in the late 15th century by the people of le Faubourg Sainte Catherine which was a district outside the fortification primarily inhabited by sailors. They used their ship-building skills and designed a church that inside resembles the upside-down hull of a ship.

Inside Sainte Catherine's church - photos by L

Sainte Catherine's church - photo by L

As you see all of the pictures of the church were taken by L- he did a MUCH better job than I did so I'm glad he said I could share them on here. I had a new camera on this trip and it took me a little bit to get used to it, to get photos in focus properly, and to stop taking pictures of all manner of things that I didn't intend to- my feet, L's feet, my jacket, L's jacket, a blurry fire extinguisher, the rear view mirror in the car, up my nose {I wish I was kidding}, my lap and the pen in my lap, L's derrière {OK so maybe some of those weren't exactly taken by accident...sorry Mom!}, the tire and side of the car, big blurry blobs of nothing, and one that is pretty much just white. I may have to do a post at the end of this series of posts solely made up of these photos. A blooper reel if you will. I've sure got enough of them!

After puttering around in the church for a little bit we decided to just make a loop around the town and head back to the car to get on the road again. The rest of the photos in this post were just the things that caught our eye as we strolled along. All told I have about 100 photos just from our short wander around Honfleur. I guess everything caught my eye!

Strolling through the streets

The Vieux-Bassin from the opposite end

Winding through the narrow streets by the Grèniers à sel {salt granaries} and through the old Rue de la Prison

In the next post I'll finish up our first day in Normandy and show you around the WWII sites we visited- some pillboxes in Villerville and Mont Canisy in Benerville-sur-Mer.

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