This year spring on the European mainland is not a cosy one. The true exception is only the South. Longing for the sun I found photos made last summer in Normandy. The heat was all around us, but we found ourselves in a right place at the right time traveling and enjoying summer.
We left Rouen, the cradle of the Norman culture (>>>) and took the way West to reach the Atlantic coast (the English Channel to be precise). The day was more about sightseeing than sunbathing. But we started it at one of the most picturesque beaches in the region – the Etretat beach famous for its chalk cliffs.
The last view is from half-height of the hill that leads to the cliff on the first photo.
We gave us only two hours to enjoy the views. It was still before noon. With the sun still low, making photos was a real fun. But as distances there are quite huge and enjoying views involves climbing hills, I did not manage to reach any of the higher spots. With our tight schedule we had to hit the road.
The place seems however to be a perfect spot for those, who besides a short stay on a beach would like to spend a day on walking, climbing up and down hills, sightseeing and making beautiful photos. There is the sea, the boats, the green hills and the white chalk cliffs.
Our next stop was Honfleur located at the estuary of Seine (the river that among other cities crosses Paris). Honfleur was through ages an important maritime port. Today it lost its position to le Havre located at the opposite bank of the river. On our approach to the city we had to pass a bridge over Seine high enough to give passage to inland waterway ships. The height allowed us to see parts of the le Havre port complex.
The old port of Honfleur was converted into a marina. It is of a square shape and surrounded by old buildings that in the past were both docks and a housing area. Naturally, today the ground floors and the quays were converted into restaurants and gift shops. So the place seemed to be ideal to sit down and enjoy lunch in the old port scenery. As the city was thriving though many ages, the buildings surrounding the marina are centuries old. I was feeling there a bit like on a pirate movie set.
The old port and the marina as we approached it.
The view from the opposite corner on the same buildings.
The opposite side of the port and the marina.
All Norman and Breton historical cities are full of original or carefully reconstructed old streets and houses. Many of the houses are built according to the traditional (for Western Europe) half-timbered technique (>>>). Walking the streets in the old port area (behind the small church on the picture above) you can find truly old and well-preserved buildings. We were in the city in the early afternoon hours. The sun was straight above us. But with all those views making shots against the sun was a real fun.
But Honfleur is famous for yet another impressive old building, which is the church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The church main parts that is two parallel naves were built one after another in XV and XVI centuries respectively. The church is of wood and belongs to one of the biggest wooden constructions of that kind in France. The bell tower is a separate building planned so to decrease the risk of fire to the church in case as the tower would be stroke by lightning.
The church is located just behind the old port, with the bell tower at the opposite side.
In recent years the city authorities restored the main dock of the old port. It is difficult not to notice it, as it looks like … new. But still we can admire old kind of Norman architecture.
The view from behind a channel where still bigger ships than yachts are allowed to with a view onto the restored old dock building and behind the church of Saint Catherine (on the right).
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