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HONFLEUR

Monday 27 January 2003

The most painted and photographed site in Normandy. Well known for it’s high,
narrow houses, covered in slates.
Founded in the 11th C where the river Claire joins the Seine. Honfleur is a Viking name. Fleur meaning estuary or port Hon : meaning "horn" or "lower". So the name either means "On the horn of the estuary" or "the lower port"
Up to the last century Honfleur was an important port. River traffic up and down the Seine to Rouen and Paris. Coastal and cross channel shipping Then transatlantic trade.

In the 14th C at the beginning of the hundred years war the town was fortified by a wall. Honfleur was an important part of the defences of the R. Seine.

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the "old" old port

During the hundred years war from 1346 to 1450, Honfleur was taken by the English and retaken by the French several times.
1450 . Normandy finally became French. A hundred years of conflict and plague had Normandy in a bad way. The population had been reduced by half to 500,000. Fields were left barren. Many were tempted to seek their fortunes elsewhere and Honfleur was the embarkation port for these adventurers to the new lands.
The hundred years war had led to building up a large shipbuilding industry at Honfleur. With the war over many shipwrights had nothing to do so the town put them to work to build a church in wood.
This is the church that still stands today in the market square.
In 1608 Champlain sailed from here to found Quebec. He installed trading posts and sent young men that sailed with him to live with the indians to convert them. In 1660 half of the population of Canada were Normands.
The fortifications were taken down in the 17th C.

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the "new" old port

All that remains is the lieutenancy and the Caen gate. the port was modernised by Duquesne under the orders of Colbert. In the 18th C Honfleur and Rouen were the principal ports of the region. Road transport was very slow and unsure. Merchandise was moved more easily by coasters and riverboats. There was no bridge over the Seine so the crossing was made from Honfleur to Le Havre.
In the early 19C there was even a steam ship link from Honfleur to Southampton. But, the second half of the 19C saw the decline of Honfleur. The introduction of railways in 1870 saw the time to travel to Paris cut from 2 days to 5 hours. Coastal and river traffic declined and the lucrative transatlantic traffic was taken up by Le Havre.
Around 1840 Honfleur took up a new role as Mecca for painters. Led by the English painter Bonnington who brought Turner with him. Most of the great painters have visited Honfleur to paint it.

During the battle of Normandy Honfleur was left untouched. It became a favourite haunt for soldiers with some leave.

St LEONARD church
Xvc: All that remains is the tower and the first arch of the nave. Rebuilt XVII after the religious war.
Statue of St Leonard: Statue of the virgin.

PLACE ARTHUR BOUDIN
This was the old walled town.
N° 6 House Louis XII style Checker deco Flint and stone. Was the house of the governor Roncheville, under Louis XI.

SALT LOFTS Built by Colbert under the reign of Louis XIV. Built using stone from the demolition of the town walls
When the salt tax was introduced the salt producing regions (Atlantic coast) was English, so state had to put the tax on at the distribution end. Every body needed salt. The fisherman needed it to preserve the fish.
Opposite the salt lofts - Rue de la Prison - Half timbered houses

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Prison street

Leads to St Steven’s church 14c & 15c gothic now Maritime museum.

OLD PORT
Created 17c by Abraham Duquesne under the orders of Colbert, and enlarged in the 18C.
Today only holds pleasure and fishing boats. The slate covered houses were built on the slopes of a fortification ditch of the 16 and 18C. The bank of the Old port was sold in lots of 25ft. So the houses built are narrow and have up to 7 floors. The first floor has an exit on the next road.
St Steven’s wharf rich houses.

LIEUTENANCY
Was the Caen gate of the walled town.
Housed the kings lieutenant from 1884
Statue Notre dame du port.
Commemorative plaque to Champlain founder of Quebec 1608. (port side)
Sloop (Roche Blue) Sail boat from Ouistreham (Dehel)

ST CATHERINE
Built of wood by shipwrights. Bell tower separated on top of bell ringers house
Two parallel knaves. Left is the older
Hundred years after first nave built it was too small. Added south nave and three arches. The side aisles were lowered to allow putting windows in the nave.
Roof held up by oak pillars. Notice angels.
Wood from the Touque Forest
16c sculptures on tribune: Instruments
18c organ
Chancel is in wood from the Vosges.
Only wooden church in Normandy (one remains in Champagne)
After the revolution a Greek porch was added but this was taken down in 1929.

BELL TOWER
Museum
Used to be the house of the bell ringer.

RUE DES LINGOTS
Art galleries half timbered houses

Rue de l’HOMME de BOIS
N° 23 sculpture
left then right 400M (Hotel Dieu) and right again

RUE HAUTE (N°88 Maison Erik Satie)
Where the ship owners lived ; Used to be by the beach.
Houses of stone. Very expensive.

E Boudin MUSEUM
Eugene Boudin born at Honfleur
In old Augustan Convent.
Many paintings by A Duborg.
Old costumes.

Ferme St Simeon,
Where the painters used to stay. Now a hotel. Burnt down in 2001. but has been refurbished

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