Making our way through my past two-week break in France, we’re moving on to a new place this time! After visiting Le Havre and the surrounding small towns nearby (Sainte-Adresse, Harfleur, and Montivilliers), my colleague and I took a day trip the following morning down to Lower Normandy to visit the small, charming port cities of Honfleur, Deauville, and Trouville.
Considering that it was farther than usual and that my colleague’s car is rather old, we took the regional bus over, crossing the Normandy Bridge over to the next region. We arrived in Honfleur early in the morning, around 9h15. It was still quite dark when we arrived, but in any case, we spent the next two hours or so wandering the large farmer’s market happening that day, passing through the side of the port that sold clothes, shoes, and small trinkets over to the other side that sold fresh produce and regional food specialties.
We also visited the Saint Catherine church in the town center, where my colleague told me that her grandmother actually got married in there back in the day. Shortly afterwards, we split off to do our thing until it was time for us to catch the bus down to the other towns listed (namely, Deauville and Trouville). I wandered the farmer’s market before heading back to the main port area, since by then the sun was up and cast a lovely glow against the colorful buildings along the port. Definitely a picturesque view, for sure!
After an hour of strolling along the port and in town, we met up again to try to find the Boudin museum (named after Eugène Boudin, a famous local Impressionist painter whose works I’d see back at the MuMa in Le Havre), but didn’t end up finding it. It was okay, though! We did, however, come across Erik Satie’s house, in which the eponymously-named place is named after the famous avant-garde 20th century composer.
Shortly thereafter, we caught the next bus at 11h20 down to Deauville, another port city also with the beach. Took almost about an hour to get down there, but eventually we arrived. Trouville, another small port-beach city, was just across the bridge from Deauville; my colleague wanted to take me to visit Trouville first, since she considered its beach more beautiful than Deauville’s. She wanted to make sure that we made it while it was still nice and sunny outside, since you know, Normandy weather can really be a hit-or-a-miss.
We crossed the bridge over to Trouville, passed through the busy, touristy streets of the town center, went past the large Casino, and arrived at the beach while the weather was still bright and warm. It was also low-tide when we arrived, and so we were even able to walk out into the ocean rather far, which was completely fascinating! From the distance, we could also see Le Havre, which was funny since we were just there earlier that morning and had spent about two hours on the bus just to make it to the other side…and still see the city!
It was around 13h00 when I was really starving for food, and so I decided to split off from my colleague for a little while in order to head back to the town center to get lunch. I was actually very interested in trying les coquilles Saint-Jacques, aka “Saint-Jacques scallops” which are a well-known thing in the Normandy and Brittany regions. Considering that I’ve already had moules frites (mussels and fries, another popular Normand dish) in the past, I wanted to try something new.
Spent some time going from café to café to find one that wasn’t too expensive (naturally, port cities like these are touristy and bound to be expensive, but my colleague had told me that Trouville was less expensive than Deauville for lunch). Eventually, I found a place that had the Saint-Jacques scallops at 20 euros (compared with 25 euros at other establishments) and popped myself into the place for a quick lunch. Specifically, I got the scallops in butter (other options included wine sauce or cream) and it was absolutely heavenly! I love seafood, so it really satisfied my cravings. Paired it with a kir normand (a starter drink that’s a mix of fruity liquor and Normandy cider), and it was perfect! Total came out close to 25 euros, but I didn’t mind the splurge! 😛
After lunch, I had some time to kill before I met up with my colleague, so I wandered along the docks that lead to the beach, taking in the warm sunshine and all. I also checked out le marché aux poissons, which is covered, outdoor market that sold tons of different fish and seafood, some of which you could even sit down to sample, too! Granted, it’s expensive, but it was nice to see all of the variety that the sea had to offer, in terms of food!
About an hour later, I met up with my colleague again and together we headed back over to Deauville, crossing the bridge and passing through its town center over to its beach, which personally I didn’t find as striking except for its planches des promenades, a long row of beach stalls that had names of famous American actors (e.g. Morgan Freeman, Rock Hudson, etc.), since Deauville is the site for the American Film Festival, which for me being American, really touched home. It’s no wonder that Deauville, let alone Trouville, are crazy expensive places for vacationing!
We wandered along the beach for a bit, also coming across a small cultural-arts center that housed some modern photography. Checked that out briefly, and afterwards we headed back to the the town center where my colleague took me to see Le Normandy, a grand, half-timbered hotel that is, of course, reserved for the filthy rich for a night’s stay. We visited the inside of the lobby, as well as its courtyard, lush and extravagant. I wouldn’t mind staying in this hotel, should I have the money to afford it!
By the time we finished up Le Normandy, I was getting pretty exhausted and sort of wanted to return to Le Havre early to rest. My colleague was fine with it, as she was planning to stay a bit longer before catching the last bus back; I had her flat’s spare key, so there was no problem letting myself back inside. That said, I took the second-to-last bus back on my own, arriving back around 18h30. Got myself a kebab dinner in town before returning to the flat to rest for the night.
Altogether, I enjoyed visiting the three small beach-port towns in Lower Normandy that day. If it were not for the fact that I’d walked so much and had done so much that day, I would’ve chosen to stay an extra hour in Deauville with my colleague. Nevertheless, I think it was good enough for me. Super pretty places, and I’m glad to have checked them off of my list of places to visit in Normandy. 🙂
Look out for my last post on the final destination during this past vacation soon! Next up: Rouen, France!
— The Finicky Cynic
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