As I stood facing the marina, I took in my surroundings and the crisp, salty air. One of my dreams was coming true. I had visited Honfleur, France twice before, once while five months pregnant with our first son. I swore to myself that I would return with him someday. Here I was, six years and three sons later, and I'd returned to my favorite little French fishing village in Normandy.
Not much had changed in Honfleur since I last visited, it was precisely as I remembered. It is the type of place you can feel at home while being a first time visitor. Old, narrow cobblestone roads invite you to wander amongst the quaint shops and restaurants. I noticed more English speaking Brits this time, as England is only a short trip across the Channel. My adventurous and culture-loving self felt slightly disappointed by the growing use of my first language, but how could I blame anyone for wanting to visit this charming place; as a visitor myself, who was I to judge?
While my five year old and two year old tugged my hands, begging to go on the carousel, I watched a fishing boat sail past us into the marina to dock in its slip. There were about 40 boats already parked tightly for the night. It was a Saturday night, and as the sun was setting the village was coming to life.
The narrow and old dilapidated wooden buildings that lined the marina were three and four stories tall. Their age was evident. They leaned into each other, supporting one another like dominoes refusing to fall. The first floor of each building housed a restaurant, and the upper floors were apartments. I promised our boys that we could go on the carousel after we took a loop around the marina.
The marina was large and square. Like a disconnected horseshoe, about 20 buildings lined each of three sides. The fourth side at the north end, where we were standing, had a drawbridge for the boats to pass through, the famed carousel, and a pale brick building. We began our walk around the marina, dodging the waiters scurrying back and fourth from the restaurants to the outdoor seating carrying copious amounts of mussels, bread, and wine. The great weather had drawn out a crowd, and laughter filled the seafood infused air.
As we made our way back to the carousel, my overly excited boys raced to the ticket counter. It was a magical sight, especially at night. A beautiful fixture within the marina, it lit up the sky. A vintage double decker, with the most intricate details. As it spun, carefully painted scenes of famous French locations passed by at the top of the carousel. When it was our turn, our two year old and five year old jumped onto their chosen horses, as I held tightly to our one year old. I smiled, as we spun into the night.