30 May 2017:
Honfleur, France:
Hidden in Plain Sight

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Honfleur is a medieval gem, hidden in plain sight, between the major French port of Le Havre across the Seine to the east, and the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the west.

It’s a lovely place, with a certain je ne sais quoi, not at all like much of the rest of coastal France.

And so it seems no surprise that this was one of the sources of impressionism in art and a musical genius of evocative impressions.

Honfleur was the birthplace of the artist Eugène Boudin and the composer and artist Erik Satie.

And it was a favored place to visit for French painters Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, English landscape artist William Turner, and writer and critic Charles Baudelaire.

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While much of Normandy, about 50 miles or 32 kilometers way, was pounded by the Allies in the D-Day landing or by the Germans in defending it, Honfleur survived the war relatively untouched.

During German occupation, authorities in Honfleur allowed the River Seine to silt up the harbor, making it of little military value.

What remains is of great cultural value to us now.

A RETURN TO NORMANDY

Seventy-two years ago, Southampton was one of the ports of embarkation for the invasion forces of D-Day, along with Portsmouth and other places.

Today I went again to the beaches and the villages of Normandy, something that should be mandatory for historians, politicians, and anyone else of consequence.

Among the men and boys who landed at Normandy was my father,  and I take advantage of every opportunity to visit there.

A Normandy Album

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We begin at Omaha Beach,  one of the two principal American landing sites,  then went up on the bluff to the vast cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, the final resting place of about 13,000 Americans,  two thirds of them given benefit of a gravestone with their name,  the remainder–as the notation reads–known only to God.

At Arromanches the British constructed a massive artificial harbor that allows the full push to Germany to begin.

No one with a soul can visit these places and come away unmoved.

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