The colorful port of Honfleur has become increasingly crowded since the elegant Pont de Normandie suspension bridge - providing a direct link with the upper Normandy - opened in 1995 accross the Seine. It is the world's largest cable-stayed bridge, supported by two concrete pylons taller than the Eiffel Tower and designed to resist winds of 160 mph. The town of Honfleur , is full of half- timber houses and cobbled streets, was once an important departure point for maritime expeditions including the first voyages to Canada in the 15th & 16th centuries. You can stroll around the old harbor and pay a visit to the ravishing wooden church of Ste-Catherine which dominates a tumbling square. The church was built by the townpeople to show their gratitude for the departure of the English at the end of the hundred years' war in 1453.
Where to eat & stay
La Terrasse de L'assiette . Gerard Bonefoy, one of Honfleur's top chefs, has opened his new place, offering seasonal delights such as succulent scallops with hazelnut risotto and roast lamb from the salt marshes. 8 Place Ste Catherine. Closed Monday.No dinner sunday, except July & August. The restaurant name changed to Cote Resto. http://www.cote-resto-honfleur.com
L'Absinthe. A 16th-century presbytery with stone walls and beamed ceilings houses a small & very charming hotel and the acclaimed restaurant of the same name. Rooms are comfortable but small, except for the attic suite, which has a private living room. Rooms are equipped with large & modern bathrooms and Jacuzzis. The elegant and very cozy reception is adorned with an imposing stone fireplace. Chef Antoine Geffrey is famous for his seasonal seafood and fish dishes such as Turbot grille with leeks. http://www.absynthe.fr
Le breard. At 7 rue du Puits, where wonderful and inventive dishes fusing Norman & Asian flavors are served in a contemporary setting. http://www.restaurant-lebreard.com
Sa.Qua.Na. At 22 place Hamelin has one Michelin star and rising two status. The chef Alexandre Bourdas, ran Michel Bras' three star Toya, Japon before opening his own. He mixes exotic with the classic and they have a Japanese undertone in texture. http://www.alexandre-bourdas.com
La Tortue.At 36 rue de L'homme de bois where unfussy and down to earth Normandy cuisine is served in a traditional half-timbered building.http://www.restaurantlatortue.fr
L'Ancrage. Another traditional Normand restaurant with huge platters of seafood to top the bill at this bustling restaurant in a two story 17th-century building overlooking the harbor. 16 rue Montpensier ( 02-31-89-00-70).
Le clos St- Gatien. Started out as an old Norman half- timbered farmhouse, this hotel has 50 rooms and a glossy swimming pool terrace. It is set just outside Honfleur, near the St Gatien forest., it remains a base for horseback riding ( on-site facilities) or a round of golf at the nearby 18 -hole course. The restaurant ( reservations very important)serves amazing & succulent Norman fare such as blood sausage with roast apples, or grilled lamb with eggplant caviar. http://www.clos-st-gatien.fr .