Visit Honfleur - the beautiful home of Monet

Thursday, 17 May 2012 3:55 PM

The great thing about taking a mini cruise is that you get to see so much more - in a short space of time - than you would on a road trip or staying in a single destination. In less than a week, you could visit Honfleur in France and make a stop at the Channel Islands.

One such excursion will see you visiting Guernsey and Honfleur in Normandy over the course of a four-day trip and both have much to offer. To find out more, read on.

Discover how Honfleur inspired Monet

Claude Monet is a name known all over the world, as this was the artist who spearheaded the Impressionist movement. He was a man who did not paint the simple image in front of him but who used individual paint strokes to build up colour and texture on the canvas in order to convey the emotion of the scene, rather than just the aesthetics.

Monet's most famous works are landscapes and it is immediately obvious once you arrive in the town of Honfleur just how much the settlement inspired him. At any time of year, it is a stunning place to visit, from the golden beaches that are among the best in Normandy to the harbour lined with timber-framed houses, shops and restaurants. It is also home to well-manicured gardens blooming with flowers - so it's little wonder the artists of the time fell for its charms.

Places worth a visit here include the Parish of Sainte Catherine, a 15th and 16th century church constructed by shipwrights. It is famed for being the largest in the country to be made from wood and incorporate a separate bell tower. Within the structure, you can visit a museum of religious art.

La Lieutenance Governor's House is another fascinating site. The unusual stone building includes the remains of a portion of the defensive wall that used to surround the town.

Fall in love with Guernsey

When the Channel Islands are so close to the UK mainland, you might question why you have never visited before. Guernsey is a particular gem and you can explore it on a short European cruise that also sees you going to Normandy.

Guernsey is renowned for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife and many keen twitchers head here so they can take advantage of the unparalleled bird watching opportunities. There are feeding stations for the feathered creatures dotted along the western coast of the islands, so you should be able to see plenty while you're here.

This is also a popular destination with walkers thanks to varied terrain and unspoilt countryside. Once you come on to dry land, you'll most likely be only too glad to stretch your legs and take a stroll along the sandy beaches or inland towards the nature reserves where migrating birds flock.

The capital, St Peter Port, also has much to offer visitors. This is a place where you can see a rich blend of French and English influences, with both Regency and Georgian buildings lining the narrow streets.

Many cruise passengers are content to simply come ashore and take a break at one of the cafes or restaurants so they can sit in the sun and watch the world go by. However, there are also unbeatable shopping opportunities to be had here, with souvenir stores standing next to independent clothing boutiques - as well as a few high street favourites.

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