If you are on a cruise with Paris on your itinerary, you won’t actually be docking in Paris, instead, the coastal port of Le Havre is where the ship will most likely stay. While a shore excursion to Paris is a great way to spend a day, there is much to do in the surrounding seaside towns.
Paris, as you may know, is not located on the coast, so the most common port used by cruise ships stopping here is Le Havre, located approximately 200kms from the capital. The port is located on the Atlantic coast and on the English Channel.
All cruise ships offer shore excursions and most will offer a day in Paris as an option. With the transfer time between Paris and the port being about 3 hours, these excursions can make for a long day. There are sure to be options available for different Paris experiences some of which allow you to explore the city on your own. Other great excursions commonly offered may include visiting historic Rouen, Monet’s Giverny or the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy. All fantastic places to visit.
Shorter excursions may include various walking tours of Le Havre visiting downtown and other places of interest including a funicular to see panoramic views of the city, which was almost completely destroyed during World War II.
If you feel like exploring a colourful port town on the Seine River then Honfleur is the place to go. This is an easy ‘Do-it-yourself’ tour. There is a shuttle bus that operates between Le Havre and Honfleur with a set schedule of pick up from the cruise terminal to Honfleur – Bee Le Havre Honfleur Tour or you can organise a taxi to collect you from the port and take you the 30-min drive to Honfleur.
Once in Honfleur a visit to the tourist office located in the main street is an idea. Here you can pick up a map with a recommended Old Town walking tour. This will take you through the picturesque narrow streets lined by timber-framed houses, past St Catherine’s Church, one of the oldest timber churches in France.
Then explore the vibrant Vieux Bassin – a little harbour lined on both sides by cafes, restaurants and shops. It is the perfect place to enjoy an al fresco lunch along the cobbled street. Or venture a few blocks back for art galleries, and plenty of other quaint shops selling local produce, wine, chocolate, caramels as well as boutiques and other classic cafes and French restaurants.
If you have time, venture a little further from the old town centre and walk along the banks of the Seine down to the Jardin des Personnalites. This landscaped park is spread out over 10 hectares with a small lake and many paths to meander along and enjoy the extensive gardens. There are smaller gardens within the garden all hedged in the shape of a boat, and in each garden stands a bust of a famous person who has lived and worked in Honfleur such as Claude Monet.