The French love motorhomes. They offer freedom and flexibility, the chance to stay in fantastic places relatively cheaply and in reasonable comfort. France realised decades ago that if overnight parking was provided then motorhome owners would spend their money in not just tourist hotspots but in small towns and villages.
As I write this blog I have literally seen hundreds of motorhomes today, of all sizes and age. Honfleur must be the centre of the motorhome universe, because it offers not just a very pretty seaside town but a huge overnight parking place for motorhomes. Officially the Honfleur aire holds 240 motorhomes and it is just about full. Motorhomers love it here.
Some motorhome owners would not entertain staying overnight at a place like this, preferring instead, to have the space offered by a more expensive campsite. As I look out of our front windscreen, however, I can see boats in the harbour right in front of where we are parked, and it’s only 5 minutes walk to all the restaurants, shops and tourist attractions in beautiful Honfleur. It costs €11 to park for 24 hours. Are the parked motorhomes too close together? Maybe they are but I think it’s all part of the experience.
By way of comparison, not all motorhome aires in France are this busy. Here is a photo of our motorhome parked at Broglie aire, just north of Le Mans, the day before we arrived in Honfleur. This cost €6, although nobody came around to collect the money.
What to see in Honfleur
Honfleur is a beautiful harbour town located where the River Seine meets the English Channel. It’s famous 16th to18th century townhouses have been the subject of artists such as Claude Monet and the town has many shops selling art from the area.
Wandering around the town with its narrow streets, many harbourside restaurants and fishing boats is a joy. All of this has a downside as Honfleur is a magnet for tourists arriving in coaches and on river boats, in their hundreds.
A visit to France’s largest timber church is a must. Built in the 15th century and built by shipbuilders, St Catherine’s church is in the centre of the town. The last time we saw a church built entirely of wood was on our motorhome tour of Norway.
There are several boat trips available including a trip to see the Normandy bridge that spans the River Seine. Honfleur is great for drinking coffee and people watching or having a seafood lunch in one of the many restaurants on the harbour side. By chance, we found a hidden gem – Le Jardin du Tripot – is a beautiful garden built between houses where you will find water features and a photography exhibition.
The Maritime Museum is located on the Vieux Basin, in Honfleur’s oldest church, St Etienne (14th century). The museum houses an important collection of model ships, carvings, engravings and other maritime memorabilia, all evoking Honfleur’s sea-faring history.
The Ethnography Museum is located in Honfleur’s old prison and in houses from the 16th century. The museum re-creates life in old Normandy and in its 9 rooms you will find traditional furniture, costumes and household objects as seen in typical Normandy homes in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Where to stay in Honfleur with a motorhome
Well, apart from the large motorhome parking area near the port I can also recommend a 5 star campsite called La Briquerie. 3km from Honfleur and next to a large Intermarchè supermarket, the pitches are large and well looked after. There are 2 heated swimming pools, a restaurant, gym and the shower/toilet facilities are immaculate. There is water, electric and a waste water point on every pitch and I would say that it’s one of the best campsites we have stayed on. At only €19 a night (with an ACSI discount card) it is a bargain. There is also free wifi although it is slow and not good enough for video streaming.