Monday, December 2, 2013

Honfleur, La Force d'un Reve

Honfleur...this is what I imagined when I dreamed of living in France.  At the risk of sounding too corny, it was one of the most magical places I've ever seen.  As the crow flies, its about 2 miles from Le Havre, right across the estuary of the Seine River.  As you can imagine, it's really old.  The first written mention of Honfleur dates back to 1027(!), so it's safe to say this place has been on the earth for over 1,000 years.  It obviously has quite the history.  Due to it's strategic location, it played a major part in the 100 Year's War with England and changed hands between the two countries many times.  It was occupied by the Germans in WWII and liberated by the Belgium army in August of 1944.  Thank God it survived those Nazi bastards.  

In more peaceful times, Honfleur was a bustling port.

The picturesque port of Honfleur has inspired many artists over the centuries, including Monet.  Walking around the narrow and crooked streets of Honfleur brings you back in time.  It is the antithesis of the concrete jungle that is Le Havre, and it's a glimpse of what Heaven might actually look like.  It's just a beautiful place.  As the sun set we hiked up the hill to a small church known as the Notre Dame de Grace, built by Richard II of England, who reigned from 1377-1399.  It was destroyed but rebuilt in 1615.  The church and the hillside look over the small medieval town, and it's hard to tell that you're not in a dream.  Riki and I sat in silence overlooking Honfleur for a good 30 minutes.  I don't think we said a word.  

It's funny.  Seeing these old towns made of crooked streets and leaning buildings only makes me appreciate New Orleans that much more.  Don't get me wrong...I'm not homesick in the least (how could I be?), but it makes me happy that a place like New Orleans exists in America.  It's the closest thing we have to the old world, and I'm so glad I get to call it home.  For now, Le Havre is home, but I'm really excited this place is a 20 minute bus ride away.  

Estuary of the Seine. 

An American hog in France.

A pot full of fresh Mussels...€11.

The Lieutenancy, gate keeper of the port of Honfleur.  Many additions have been made to this building over the centuries, including this gate with the two turrets overlooking the bay.  As you can imagine, the locals hated the remodeling and wanted it torn down.  It still stands today, as seen below.

St. Catherine's Church, dating back to the 15th century, is the largest surviving all wood church in France.  Constructed after the end of the 100 Year's War, it was built by master ax men to resemble the upside down hull of a ship (see below).  And by "master ax men" I literally mean these men were masters of axes.  Saws were not used in any phase of construction.  Think about that.  Because of that, and the fact that they didn't have many big oak trees to use for wood, all of the beams are of different lengths.  Just the fact that it's survived all these centuries without burning down is a feat in itself. 

"The Force of a Dream"

Yeah, I could call this home.

The lights of Le Havre.

An abandoned French manor?  I might have to find out.

Unfortunately we had to return to Le Havre for the night, but no worries, we already booked a room in Honfleur for Riki's birthday next week.  More pictures of this magical place to come.

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