Day Sixteen – Harboring Four Americans, Is That A Boat Or A Church, Killer Caramel Crepes, Dancing In The Street, Death Stairs 2012, What’s This Tree Doing In My Shower, Not Dine But Dash and The Perfect Way To Spend An Evening
Goodbye Château de Bellefontaine.
On an overcast Wednesday morning, the four intrepid travelers were off to our next locale, which would just be a short one-night stand (ah, the college days..oops, excuse me) in the cute town of Honfleur, where Tracy and I had also had a one-night stand (of a different sort) in 1998.
It only took us a little more than an hour to reach Honfleur, although after we got there we thought it might take another hour to find our b&b, La cour sainte Catherine, 74 rue du puits. In a stroke of luck after circumventing the city and some construction that had Madame Bleu more screwed up than usual, not only did we find a parking place, but we found one right in front of the b&b.
We arrived very early, and they told us our rooms would be ready about three that afternoon, but they took our luggage. We saw there was a very nice patio area in the back and knew that would be a place for some late afternoon wine. Now, however, it was off to explore Honfleur.
As I said, Tracy and I visited in the late 90s. We had stayed out of town, so we only really saw the harbor, a place that made me want to paint a Monet-like painting, if only I could paint. We were to find out on this trip that Honfleur was a lot more than just a pretty harbor. Just off of our street, for example was a beautiful, little walkway full of color.
Our first stop on this morning was Saint-Catherine’s Church, and when we entered the 15th century church it looked similar to an upside-down ship’s hull.
It was like the Poseidon Adventure without Gene Hackman circa the 1400s. We walked outside where there was a mini-farmer’s market going on, and we walked around town for a bit, checking out some over-priced art until lunch-time.
After touring the church, we all decide to take a stroll through lovely Honfleur.
I took a photo of Kim and Mary with two small Christmas-type trees flanking them that they said they would use as their Christmas card. …and they did!
We walked the streets for a little while longer, looking at some overpriced art, like the “Man Without A Body” sculpture. Don’t look at this while drinking.
We really liked the architecture of Honfleur…
…with its many half-timbered buildings.
That little market thing going on was ok, but it was no Sarlat when it came to markets.
Wandering over to the harbor, we first walked nearly all the way around, because (a) we were looking for a restaurant and (b) the harbor area is so beautiful.
This was one time we didn’t mind waiting to find a restaurant because the area afforded such wonderful views from so many vantage points. We finally decided to sit outside at la Chaloupe, which we chose by a very simple method…
…the restaurant had outdoor heaters (it was cold), although Restaurant Le Corsaire looked cuter.
Although cold outside, we still got to marvel at the setting we found ourselves enveloped.
Lunch was good. Mary dove into a bevy of oysters, while I had a variation of a Croque Monsieur.
For dessert (none of my pants were fitting anyway), I had a wonderful caramel crepe. Oh yeah, wine was involved, too, albeit just a small carafe.
After a long lunch, it was almost time to check in, so back to the La cour sainte Catherine we walked. Honfleur is an incredibly picturesque city, so much so it would be perfect for a wedding.
I know that because on the walk back to the b&b, a couple who looked like they were taking some engagement photos were literally dancing in the street. Thankfully I was walking by them and not driving or it could have had dire consequences for their nuptials.
We passed more half-timbered buildings on the way back to our b&b.
Back at the b&b, we were shown to our two rooms. Each was spacious and clean, and each provided a challenge, which were quite different from one another. When we walked down the stairs from the first room we saw, a second story room, when we opened the door to the outside on the way back down, one misstep and we would have face-planted into the street. With the copious amounts of wine we drink, Kim and Mary decided that this room would be safer for them to occupy. “We don’t want to lose you this late in the trip,” Kim said. I think he meant it.
Our room didn’t present a challenge until the following morning. Getting in the tiny shower, I realized there was a piece of timber in the center of the ceiling of the shower that caused me to contort so that the knot in the wood didn’t cause a knot in my head.
We also had to be very careful walking up our stairs, because we didn’t want to disturb the gorgeous mushrooms growing on them.
Other than those little quirks, we liked the place that included a beautiful courtyard and a charming breakfast room (included in the price of the room).
We utilized the courtyard, as I knew we would, to sample some various bottles of vin rouge before heading off to dinner. Oh, the choices we have to make! Kim, it seems, had enough.
Contemplating going down the street to the restaurant recommended by our lovely hostess, we decided to head on down to the harbor again for dinner. The night had cleared up, so off to the harbor we walked.
On our stroll to the harbor we passed by many colorful shops, many of them pushing Calvados.
Somehow we were able to restrain ourselves.
As we walked toward the harbor we walked by a monument for French explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, who is probably best known for establishing and governing the settlements of New France and the city of Quebec.
Champlain started that expedition with a fleet of three ships that departed Honfleur, Champlain commanded the lead ship, the Don-de-Dieu (the Gift Of God). On July 3, 1608, Champlain landed at the point of Quebec, and this was the beginning of Quebec City.
Before plopping down at a restaurant, we had to take more photos. Honfleur lends itself to your artistic side.
We ducked inside one restaurant and after sitting down we checked out the menu, which looked ok, but the entire atmosphere of the restaurant (by the way, not the one above that we took this photograph of as we walked around the harbor) seemed to be a downer. This was an eerie reminder of our second night in Paris, so the four of us hightailed it out of the restaurant.
Walking around for a bit, we settled down at a table at L’Hippocampe, which we had seen earlier in the day as we walked around the harbor.
It came complete with a gorgeous view. As the moon rose in the sky, we toasted (damn, we toast a lot) our incredible fortune to have gone on this journey.
The view on this spectacular evening was even more important than the food, which happened to be surprisingly good.
Mary dined on some oysters and skate, Kim had a fish soup, while I tried a Tartine Normandy (which looked pretty similar to what I had for lunch, but what the hell, the view was great and it tasted good). Tracy dined on Sea Bream (which is either a fish or the submarine in Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea) with red pepper cream sauce.
I also gorged on a fantastic chocolate tart with orange zest for dessert. Harkening back to the Dordogne, I was now beginning to resemble Domme DeLuise (poetic license).
It was a gorgeous night, so the four of us just soaked up the atmosphere (along with, surprisingly, a couple of bottles of wine), and finally took a nice stroll back to the hotel. Entering our room we heard no screams, so we figured Kim and Mary had made it safely to their room.
This was it for the French countryside. We’d had a great two weeks, but the Dordogne, Loire and Normandy would be in our rear-view mirror as we headed for our final three days in Paris tomorrow. As it turned out, those places were not the only thing that would be in our rear-view mirror, because tomorrow I would take my three passengers on a harrowing ride through the streets of Paris, complete with zipping around the Arc de Triomphe and going where no rental car has ever gone before (or, at least, it shouldn’t have).
Next: Day Seventeen – Mr. Maitai’s Wild Ride, Lane Violation, Where The Hell Did They Put Our Rental Car Agency, Dining In The Rain, The Good Samaritan, Service With A Smile, The Rue You-Know-What, Fancy Meeting You Here and A Return To Ray Romano’s Restaurant