Honfleur, France | Design Mom

Photos and text by Gabrielle.

This post is about Honfleur and Deauville. Two neighboring towns here in Normandy that we never tire of visiting. We’ve been to both many times, but the photos in this post are from a visit last May. Spring in Normandy is very wet, and often cold, so when the sun comes out, you can bet we take advantage of it.

Honfleur, France | Design Mom

These first images show Honfleur. It’s a small fishing port that is big on charm. And the light here is so remarkable that it won’t surprise you to hear this little town is considered the birthplace of impressionism. In fact, it’s not unusual at all to see painters with easels set up near the water, capturing the boats and flags and sails on their canvases.

Honfleur, France | Design MomHonfleur and Deauville14

We’ve been told there are particular things to do in Honfleur — churches to visit and towers to climb — but we’ve never done any of them. Instead, we like to walk through the narrow side streets, window shopping, and stopping for ice cream. We might ride the port-side carousel or watch the boats come in. And then we’ll eat a late lunch or early dinner at one of the touristy restaurants that line the wharf — there are a dozen to pick from.

Honfleur, France | Design MomHonfleur, France | Design MomHonfleur, France | Design MomHonfleur, France | Design Mom

Honfleur reminds me a lot of Brussels, Belgium — when you wander around the cobblestone streets, you’re bound to hear a half a dozen languages before you reach the end of the block.

You could easily spend a day here, or even a romantic overnight, but we usually see Honfleur in a 4 or 5 hour block — just enough time to soak up the atmosphere and eat something delicious before we drive home (it’s about an hour and a half away from our little town).

Deauville, France | Design Mom

Next up, Deauville, a chic beach town where rich Parisians keep a summer home. The town center is stunning and full of high-end shops like Hermes. But we go for the beach, boardwalk and the iconic umbrellas.

Deauville, France | Design MomDeauville, France | Design Mom

On this particular day, we went to Deauville in the morning and spent the afternoon at Honfleur. But if it’s really sunny, we’ll never the leave the beach — only leaving the sand to pick up soft serve and sandwiches —and save Honfleur for another day.

Deauville, France | Design MomDeauville, France | Design Mom

It’s hard for me to imagine ever tiring of snapping photos of those umbrellas. : )

Deauville, France | Design Mom

Honfleur and Deauville are two of our very favorite spots to visit in Normandy, but alas, we rarely get to share them with visitors. When friends and family come to France, they (understandably) build their visit around Paris, and come to our house for a couple of nights. Once they arrive here, the Normandy Tourist Site Priorities for our visitors are usually: 1) A day visiting the D-Day Sites, and 2) a day visiting Mont St. Michel. Both amazing and unforgettable!

But, if our guests have more time than that, we like to offer 3) a day all about William the Conquerer with visits to Falaise, Bayeaux and Caen, 4) a day in Rouen — a well preserved half-timber city with some drama (Joan of Arc was burned at the stake there), and 5) a visit to Honfleur and Deauville. Not necessarily in that order.

I totally get it. If you only have a week or two in France, spending a day at the beach is probably not the way to go. That said, these two little towns really are some of our very favorites. There’s just so much good stuff to see here!

Tell me, Friends. If you were headed to Normandy, what would you want to visit?