Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 2289: Owner, Artist's Cottage in Honfleur
2bed/2bath cottage in Honfleur, Normandy
July 2006, One week
Our family of three spent a very pleasant week at the Artistís Cottage in Honfleur (Les 36 Marches) the first week of July 2006. The cottage is owned by Dave and Aralynn, Americans who live in Paris. They are very thoughtful landlords who love Honfleur and go out of their way to support their guests. Coordination with Dave before our arrival was prompt and very smooth, and I especially appreciated being able to pay with a US check. There is a local representative in Honfleur, but we were fortunate that Dave and Aralynn were in Honfleur when we arrived and introduced us to the cottage. We really enjoyed the special welcome basket of local treats. They also provided lots of printed information to help in planning activities for our week.
The cottage is a five minute walk from the beautiful harbor in Honfleur. Itís an ideal location, removed from the hustle-bustle, but also conveniently close to everything. Charley went out every morning for breakfast breads and was back in 10 minutes.
The cottage is very unique, almost a storybook type of place, quaint and cozy. Iím sure itís a couple hundred years old. The cottage was once the studio of the famous 19th century pre-Impressionist painter EugŤne Boudin, so itís a special place with a real history. We enjoyed visiting the nearby EugŤne Boudin museum to see some of his work as well as the work of other noted painters from this area. Dave and Aralynn bought the cottage from a contemporary local artist, whose studio is a few doors down the street. This artistís original work decorates much of the house, adding color and interest to every room.
The cottage is off a narrow pedestrian lane called Ruelle des 36 Marches that runs down the hillside between two small streets in Honfleur. (The name means The 36 Steps, and the steep lane actually involves a few more than 36 steps.) That said, you must be in reasonably good shape and able to deal with stairs to stay in this cottage. The cottage has an interesting configuration and involves four different levels: an outdoor terrace (separate from the cottage itself), a lower level, a middle level, and an upper level under the eaves.
The terrace/garden is a few steps down from the narrow upper street, surrounded by a tall stone wall. On a pretty day, itís the best spot in the whole house. We chose to enter the property from the top of the little stairstep lane, coming onto the terrace through a high wooden gate. We had great weather most of the time we were there and whenever possible, we ate our meals on the terrace. Itís very private and attractively landscaped with a table, six chairs, and an umbrella for shade. We enjoyed the view looking out over the rooftops.
From the terrace/garden, a flight of concrete steps leads to a small lower courtyard and the entrance to the middle level of the cottage. This level has a small kitchen, a toilet room, and a bright and attractive living room. The living room couch converts to a single bed and thereís a small table where two or three people can dine. There is satellite television, and English-language channels from the UK are available.
From a corner of this living room a small spiral staircase leads down to the lower level. This is the largest space in the cottage, though it was the area we used the least. There is another more-spacious living room (the comfortable couches convert to beds) with a fireplace, a good sized dining area, another small kitchen with a clothes washing machine, and a bathroom with a toilet and shower. A door from this level leads outside to the pedestrian lane, but we didnít ever use this entrance.
The upper level of the house (reached by a larger set of steps near the front door at the middle level) is under the eaves and includes the cozy main bedroom and a bathroom with a sink and tub. The bedroom walls are covered with a bright fabric and the bed is extremely comfortable. One of the real perks of this levelóimportant during much of the time we were there is an air conditioning unit.
Both kitchens are fully equipped with cooking equipment (range, oven, refrigerator, electric coffee pots, pots and pans etc.) and attractive crockery dishes, but they are both quite small. We did prepare several complete meals in the middle-level kitchen, but only one person is really able to work in the small space. Thinking back, I wish our family had used the cottage differently. My husband and I took the upstairs bedroom. We used the middle kitchen for cooking, which was convenient for carrying groceries inside from the upper street and serving meals on the terrace. Our 12-year old daughter decided to take the middle-level living room for her bedroom because she didnít want to sleep on the lower level by herself. We ended up not using the lower level very much at all, even though it was the largest and most comfortable space. It might have been better if our daughter or Charley and I had slept on the lower level and we had freed up the convenient and bright middle level (with the satellite TV) for our main living area and indoor dining space.
Parking is available for free just five minutes away at the Naturospace, a park with a butterfly house. There was one morning when parking was not allowed, but we just moved the car to an adjacent lot. We were also able to bring the car up the small pedestrian street to unload and load our luggage.
Honfleur was a delight: a beautiful harbor, attractive streets for wandering and exploring, restaurants, shops, galleries, even a beach. In addition to the Eugene Boudin museum, we also enjoyed the very unique Eric Satie museum. There are a couple of grocery stores accessible on foot or by car (try the big E. Leclerc on the way into town) and plenty of small specialty food shops within a few minutes. We used an internet cafť just a few minutes away. We highly recommend buying a bottle of pommeau, a type of apple liquor made in Normandy. We also recommend a visit to the outdoor market on Saturday morning. The food market is located just a few minutes away on the square by the wooden St. Catherineís church.
During our week-long stay we visited Caen, the D-Day beaches, Bayeux, and Mont St. Michel (a very long drive Iím not sure Iíd do again). We also enjoyed an afternoon drive on the Route de Cidre in the picturesque countryside not far from Honfleur. We had planned to do more day trips, but we enjoyed Honfleur so much that we ended up spending several days right there in the village.
For more information about our week in Honfleur, see entries and photos from my blog here: The Trail's Our Thing (first entry from Honfleur - click next entry in uppper right)
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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