France Day 12-13: Honfleur, Rouen, and Home!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

On our last full day in France, we spent the day seeing some interesting sites on the way from Bayeux, Normandy, to our hotel on the outskirts of Paris. We would then have an early flight the following morning.

When looking at where to stop along the way, Honfleur, Rouen, and Giverny looked like good options.  In retrospect, perhaps the route would have worked better in reverse.  We later realized that Giverny would effectively close somewhat earlier than the rest, so we ended up shortening our time in Honfleur, extending our time in Rouen, and skipping Giverny altogether.  It would have been much better to spend some time in Giverny in the morning, then double back to Honfleur or Rouen, and hang out in one or both until we were ready to continue to our hotel near the Paris airport.

Alternatively, we could have spent more time exploring Bayeux, but since the other places sounded more interesting than the “Bayeux Tapestry,” we decided to explore elsewhere.

Honfleur

Honfleur was an interesting port town.  The main mistake we made, though, was arriving a bit early, before everything was completely open.  This would have been a much better town to explore in the afternoon or early evening.

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So, we wandered the town, and popped into a large wooden church. For this part of Europe, the church being essentially all wood is somewhat unusual.  There was a nice Saturday market, so we spent most of our time divided between there and wandering by the relatively quiet water.

Rouen

On the drive to Rouen, we looked at the guide book to figure out our plans.  At this point, we realized that the Giverny sights closed earlier than we expected.  As a result, we decided to eliminate it from our itinerary and extend our time in Rouen.

Rouen is somewhat bigger than Honfleur and navigating in took a bit more time and effort.  Once there, our energy a little low, we went to a tasty sandwich shop for lunch. After that, then decided to explore the Joan of Arc sites.

Rouen is famous for being where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Particularly, there’s a modern 1970’s-style church built by the marketplace where this happened. This was somewhat surprising; it felt a bit out of place, given that she died in 1471, but it was still interesting.  The roof was supposed to represent the flames that killed her, and the stained glass windows were taken from a different 16th century church.

But there were some other super large and impressive gothic churches in town –  especially for a town that these days isn’t so much on the map. Rouen’s Cathedral of Notre Dame was a notable example.  The WWII bombing damaged them a bit, but they were repaired quite nicely.  One had an exhibit that showed photographs to the rubble that were quite horrifying.

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We enjoyed looking at some interesting wooden houses that were big on the top and small on the bottom.  They appeared to be “leaning out.”

For lunch, we had trouble finding the restaurants and grabbed somme quiches, sandwiches, and pizza.  Of course, immediately after eating, we came to the restaurant area of town.  After some more exploring of the city,  we stopped for coffee in the late afternoon, reflecting a bit on the past few whirlwind weeks.

Back to Paris

As the time waned, we knew it was time to take off, and left a little before dinner time.  It seemed sensible to get dinner on the road given the timing.  Just before our 9:00 arrival at our airport hotel, we topped off the gas tank and got the kids to sleep as quickly as we could.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

After a short night sleep, we woke up at 3:50am and headed for the airport, aiming to get there 3 hours in advance, per the advice. We have some old memories of CDG airport being somewhat chaotic, so we have tended to avoid it. This time was less chaotic, though we were still glad to check in on the early side of things.

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The flight ended up leaving a bit late, which made our connection in London a bit concerning.  We were right to be concerned.  We had an absolute insane dash through Heathrow airport, including the bus ride between terminals, the security check, and such.

A woman after security asked if we were the family of 4 that was about to miss our flight.  She got on her walkie talkie, and told them that we were capable of running.  At this point, we transitioned to a full out run in Terminal 3 from gate 1 to 21. We were quite grateful that we made our flight!

Naturally, our bags weren’t quite as fortunate, but we were eventually reunited with them within a couple of days. Even with this minor hiccup, it really was an amazing trip, and one of which all of us will have fond memories.

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