The quaint 14-century old seaside village of Honfleur is about an hour from Caudebec-En-Caux in the Haute-Normandy region for France. When you travel through the small villages, you see many thatched roof cottages. These homes have the thatched roofs many with iris growing along the roof line. There are only three craftsmen in the region that build and maintain these roofs. They do not teach this craftsmanship in school, so the men need to have an apprentice to keep up with the trade.
Honfleur is a beautiful seaside town that has become very popular among tourist since they built the Pont du Normandy bridge to connect Upper Normandy to Lower Normandy. When this bridge was first built, it was the longest cable-stayed bridge to be constructed in the world.
We were lucky enough to be strolling the cobblestone streets on a sunny, perfect weather day in Honfleur. The region is known for its usually rainy weather. This area has many local products that are symbols that represent Normandy. The first is a cow, and the other is apples.
This region has a population of approximately 3 million people and 2 million cows. Since France is known for its cheese, the cheese that comes from this region is Camembert. Camembert is very smelly and was described by our guide as “stinks like the feet of God” Our guide explain to us if you want to visit one of the many cheese shops in Honfleur it is best to wear a gas mask. The way to select the Camembert cheese is to squeeze it between your two fingers to see if it is spongy. Camembert cheese is best to eat after it has relaxed on the plate. I did taste the Camembert cheese, and it had a very strong flavor, which you would need to acquire a taste for.
The apples have perfect weather to be grown in this region, and you will find over 300 varieties. Three alcoholic drinks are made in the area with apples. The first is apple cider, a sparkling beer with the taste of apples. This beverage has 2% to 5% alcohol content. The cider is served in cups, like tea to enhance the flavor. The next is a sweet apple brandy cider blend called Pommeau. The brandy is served with dessert and has a little stronger alcohol content of 17%. The last is Calvados. This is an apple brandy with a very high alcohol content of 42%. When you drink Calvados, it is burning everything on the way down. It is also called the Normand Hole since it is so intense that it burns a hole in anything that you have eaten to make way for more food. Calvados is like a cognac; it has young and old reserves. The older it is, the better tasting it is. Honfleur has many shops where you can taste each of these drinks.
The harbor in Honfleur was very picturesque with the sailboats and small shops and restaurants that line the waterfront. There is a church that dominates the main square called St. Catherine’s Cathedral. This church was built entirely of wood by shipwrights. The townspeople built the church to show their gratitude to the English in 1453. The architecture of the church had incredible detail.
Honfleur is a great little village to explore and take in the artistry and history of the Normandy region.
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