I grew up listening to my parents tales of journeying around France, during those seemingly endless summer months when they would leave my brother and I in Poland to fend for ourselves. Well, not exactly. We were in good company with a dozen or so cousins and plenty of aunts and uncles who took delight in temporarily parenting the ‘American’ cousins. Summers were spent building houses out of haystacks and learning the difference between the variety of pretty and poisonous mushrooms on our frequent walks in the woods. I’m still not certain whether elfs really do live inside trees? As well as being a gullible child, I was always very curious and knew one day I too would run wild amidst lavender fields in Provence and drink copious amounts of Champagne in where else but the Champagne region. Those dreams have yet to be realized, though I did travel around Luberon during my year of exploring the world. Most recently I lost myself (literally in fact) in the charming village of Honfleur during a romantic weekend escape. I imaged to feel the charm of this intimate coastal town much in the manner that my parents did so many years ago, considering it has not changed for centuries.
Honfleur provides a setting in which to dream, to become lost within the tangle of cobbled streets possessing brightly colored buildings evoking a historic Normandy. Impressionist masters such as Gustave Courbet, Eugene Boudin and Claude Monet found inspiration within this scenery, immortalizing it forever upon the canvas.
Much of our time was spent sitting on the Old Harbour in peaceful observation. Time moves at a slower pace, surely allowing one to waste more of it!? As in most regions of France, you can easily live off of the local produce in Normandy. Had I not already been a gourmand I surely would have become one! We feasted on local oysters, scallops and an assortment of freshly caught fish, each meal ending with a cheese plate, camembert being the regional speciality. Evenings called for a well-aged calvados, necessary for digestion, of course.
It is here where the oldest wooden church stands, Eglise Saint-Catherine, a perfect place in which to seek refuge when caught in a sudden romantic rainstorm.
Before returning to Paris and concluding the dream of Normandy, we stopped at Étretat, known for it’s twin cliffs. This, another scene of inspiration for Monet, a natural splendor rising from sea to sky!