Your rewarding late summer escape to France begins with a short overnight sail from Dover to Honfleur, the first of two charming cities awaiting your exploration. A full day here affords time to wander the pretty, 16th century cobbled streets at your leisure in search of eye-catching architectural delights such as St Catherine’s Church – France’s largest timber church – and friendly cafés serving a range of tempting local treats. No visit is complete without visiting the Vieux Bassin district too, as the en
Historic Honfleur in northern France's Lower Normandy region is a quaint little port with a rich cultural and artistic heritage. One of France’s most visited towns, Honfleur – with its beautiful 15th and 16th century architecture and distinctive harbour – was the inspiration for Impressionist painters and poets.
Vieux-Bassin, Honfleur’s colourful old harbour, is lined with 16th to 18th-century lofty slate-and-timber fronted houses. Its sloping cobbled streets have long been a subject for artists including Claude Monet and native son, Eugène Boudin.
A visit to the 15th century St. Catherine's Church, a vaulted timber structure erected by shipbuilders, is a must, as is the maritime museum and Notre Dame de Grâce – a 17th century chapel containing various paintings and models. The chapel also offers fabulous views of the town, the Seine estuary and the impressively-engineered Normandy Bridge that crosses it.
The ‘City of a Hundred Bells’, Rouen, is capital of the French region of Normandy. This 2,000-year-old port city on the River Seine, important in Roman times and the Middle Ages, is a unique city rich with monuments and museums.
Rouen’s narrow pedestrianised streets lined with tall, half-timber houses and a statue marking the spot where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake, is a pointer to the city’s dark history. Devastated by fire, the plague and bombs in the past, modern Rouen is now a vibrant cultural centre, and one of Normandy’s most engaging destinations.
The skyline is dominated by the spires of Cathédrale Notre-Dame, much-painted by Claude Monet. The Gothic churches of Saint-Maclou and Saint-Ouen are also must-see attractions, two of the best examples of gothic architecture in France and a important part of Rouen’s history.
The city's beautiful botanical garden – Jardin de Plantes de Rouen, is also worth a visit. Its 600 different plant species and various gardens, including a rock garden, rose garden and a garden full of medicinal plants, are a joy to wander through.
Slicing through the gorgeous lush-green countryside of Normandy's Parc naturel régional des Boucles de la Seine, the route Fred. Olsen's smaller cruise ships sail along the River Seine - connecting the historic cities of Honfleur and Rouen - presents guests with simply unforgettable views to enjoy in comfort on board.
Simply sit back, relax and take in stunning scenes of rolling valleys, floral fields and charming communes dotted with historic churches and traditional houses that have inspired many famous artists over the years, including Claude Monet and Henri Matisse.
Say Au Revoir to France and Disembark in Dover.
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