Published on :   05/22/2015

Falling in Love with the Alabaster Coast and Honfleur

Can you imagine living in a town named Sandwich?

Today, I learned that this is a real place, and is in fact, one of the sister towns of Honfleur - France, where I spent much of my day.

Coming from the West Coast, I have always been biased towards coastal destinations. Admittedly, after only three days, I was starting to miss the sound of crashing waves and the fresh sea air. So, when the opportunity arose to visit the Alabaster Coast, I couldn’t refuse.

We departed in the afternoon with a long bus ride that took us through the Norman countryside. Here, we zipped by lush flax fields and countless charming houses. Our tour guide was a quirky Ukrainian man with an impressive fluency in English, French and Spanish. Shifting between these languages, he guided us through some fun facts and history, alongside an introduction to Normandy. After a long ride, we arrived at the small town of Étretat, which lies along the Alabaster Coast.  

A short walk from the center of town took us to the coast. What a relief it was to finally be at a beach! Despite the windy weather, I had a silly grin on my face the whole time. Really, one look is all it takes to see why these beautiful white cliffs inspired famous artists like Monet and Boudin. Steep, picturesque slabs of limestone loomed over the sparkling teal water, a sight that would melt even the coldest of hearts. No doubt, I was in my happy place.

With some time to explore independently, I hiked up the cliffs to an incredible vantage point with some other passengers and crew. The view was well worth the small hike up, despite my poor choice of shoes! Before we knew it, our time in Étretat had come to an end, and we were soon on our way back to Honfleur.

When our bus returned to Honfleur, we took some time to visit St Catherine’s Church, the largest wooden church in France. Honfleur is such a cute town, with cafés, bakeries and gift shops packed tightly together along narrow winding roads. I would describe it as a French fairytale meets Amsterdam. Take a look at these photos and see if you agree!

We capped off the night with a post-sunset stroll around town, followed by some drinks at a small café, where I tried a tart cherry beer. The people of Honfleur know how to enjoy life, that’s for sure.  

And with this small taste of French joie de vivre, I’ll be departing again tomorrow for Duclair and then Rouen. Fun fact: Rouen is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake… so it should be an interesting visit.

I’ll update you all soon!

- Christina