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Road Trip: Honfleur

In the mood for seafood – and the sea — Xavier, Rose (pictured above, at Etretat), and I recently decided to take a day trip to Normandy, just a couple of hours up the road.

We stayed in the tiny town of Honfleur, whose history dates back to the 11th century, and is perhaps better known as one of the country’s cradles of Impressionism (the painter Eugene Boudin mentored 16-year-old Claude Monet here), and many painters from the Barbizon school spent time here, too.

Here’s Rose with the oldest part of the town in the background.

Traditional architecture.

Xavier found a fantastic, spacious (and cheap – just 70 euros a night) B&B in the center of town – which was just 10 minutes’ walk to the beach. Look — isn’t this great?

Incredibly tidy and well-preserved, Honfleur is filled with galleries, restaurants, and tiny shops selling the region’s goods, such as canned sardines…

Calvados (which I drank way too much of)…

Little handpainted cups for cider (also had too much of this).

And extremely cute café cups with lighthouses, which I absolutely could not resist because of the blue-and-white factor on top of the homemade-ness (and the price was right — just 14 euros for a set of six).

Because Honfleur is a well-known destination for both European and British tourists, there are plenty of restaurants here that cater to them (signs in English are the tip-off), but we wanted to find a local spot. We also knew that we wanted moules, one of the area’s specialties.

Just off the main road, on a narrow side street where the city’s salt warehouses were once filled with mountains of sea salt and cod, Au Bouillon Normand was just the place. With its vanilla ice cream walls and black-and-white photographs of sailing ships, it was a welcome change to the usual dark woods and Bordeaux-accents of the bistros in Paris.

We both ordered moules to start – these were small, delicate ones, cooked in a light, elegant onion and white wine sauce…

…along with artisanal cider, the best that I’ve ever tasted.

Next, locally caught julienne, a medium-firm, clean white fish, prepared with a butter-truffle sauce on the side.

And a crème brulee with a hit of noisettes, which has given me an idea for a cowgirl version of this classic French dessert that’s gonna be just killer.

The best part? Rose slept all the way home.

La Cour Sainte Catherine
74 rue du Puits

Au Bouillon Normand
7 rue de la Ville