Last week, Jeremy and I were in Honfleur, Normandy with my parents. We had our own Airbnb apartment about a ten-minute walk from my parents’, and we spent the days wandering around the cute port town while eating ice cream, driving north to the D-Day beaches, tasting Calvados, and visiting Deauville and its casino. Honfleur is only about a two and a half hour drive north of Paris, and it’s a huge tourist destination due to its charming, skinny and colorful buildings, picturesque harbor, pretty alleyways, and high-quality restaurants. The town is a bit sleepy, but near the weekend tons of huge tour busses arrive and unleash thousands of tourists onto the cobblestoned streets. Most of the stores sell products from the region, like cider, Calvados, and Sables (butter cookies), and there are countless art galleries showcasing beautiful paintings, many of which inspired by impressionist painters who were influenced by the scenes of Honfleur (including Monet).
The view from our Airbnb.
One of the many markets held in Honfleur.
Normandy has pretty crazy weather in the spring, sunny and bright one minute, hail the next, but we were fairly lucky and got many sunny days, and only a grey day here and there.
Grey day in Honfleur.
We saw a lot of these crazy storm clouds rolling in (this was taken in Beuzeville, a nearby town).
Flower store in Beuzeville.
During one of my runs in Honfleur, I found this path through the trees that led to the ocean.
One of the advantages of traveling with your parents is your mom buys delicious things for dessert after cooking a homemade meal.
A meringue bigger than my hand (and already half eaten).
Crepe filled with ratatouille.
The strangest thing I saw in Honfleur: a jar of Trader Joe’s hotdogs randomly next to some berry crumbles in a discount grocery store. There are definitely no TJ’s in Europe and TJ’s definitely doesn’t sell jars of hotdogs in America… a mystery I may never solve.
The house of Toutain Calvados.
Nothing like a Calvados (apple brandy) tasting in the middle of the day.
First official macaron tasting of our trip. Our second came the day after.
My parents treated me and Jeremy to L’Endroit in Honfleur, which was a highlight of the week for sure. The space was loft-like and modern, but cozy and had a really nice atmosphere. And the food was delicious. Jeremy was feeling adventurous and ordered blood pudding for an appetizer, and tripe for his entrée. I ordered a nice vegetable soup for a starter, and fish for my main meal.
Jeremy’s tripe dish.
There’s fish under there.
There are a few open-air markets in Honfleur (and a fish market that is open every day), but the most impressive was the food market held on Saturdays. You can find pretty much any produce you need, and lots of meat, cheese, and seafood too. There was also a guy making fresh paella, and some stands with desserts. A lady gave Jeremy a free raw oyster right from her stand, and he said it was real tasty.
Shortly before offering Jeremy an oyster, saying he should consider it a “gift from France.”
One of the main reasons we decided to go to Normandy was to visit the D-Day landing beaches. The last time we were in France, six years ago, we took a two-day privately guided tour of the beaches by a retired British officer (his name was Colonel Warman, I kid you not). We visited Omaha Beach and the other, most eastern ones, but never made it to Utah Beach or Sainte-Mère-Église. We made the drive from Honfleur, and as soon as we got to Utah Beach and parked, it starting pouring, and eventually began hailing (pretty big pieces of hail!). I haven’t seen weather like that since I left Georgia, and it was actually really nice! We waited the storm out in the car, and eventually Jeremy and I made a run for it when it seemed to be lightening up.
My dad walking to Utah Beach.
The storm rolling out.
Utah Beach is the westernmost D-Day landing beach. The 70th anniversary of D-Day is coming up on June 6th, and the whole area will basically be closed because of the events taking place next weekend, including visits from President Obama, Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth, and many more. We timed our trip well, otherwise we wouldn’t have even been able to get close to the beaches.
We found our way to Sainte-Mère-Église, where I got a nice picture of my parents in front of the town church with a memorial to John Steele, the paratrooper whose parachute got caught on the spire of the church. He pretended to be dead for two hours and then finally was taken prisoner by German troops, but later escaped (thank you once again, Wikipedia). The incident was featured in the movie, The Longest Day.
You can see the parachute up at the top.
Jeremy and I stopped for a beverage after visiting the church while my dad went to the Musée Airborne, a museum dedicated to the American troops that parachuted into the area during Operation Overlord. My dad raved about it and highly recommends a visit, if you’re ever in the area.
After Honfleur, we made the long drive to Munich, and have been eating our weight in pretzels and drinking liters of beer ever since. Prost!
p.s. phew that was long, I really need to work on making these things shorter.