Harfleur, the “Sovereign port of Normandy and key to the kingdom of France”.

Harfleur, the “Sovereign port of Normandy and key to the kingdom of France” between the 9th and 16th centuries, lost its status as the main port of Normandy due to the progressive silting of the Seine. A medieval city, fortified in the 14th century, it still retains many testimonies of this illustrious past. You only have to admire the elegant half-timbered houses along the Lézarde, a river that now flows into the Tancarville Canal.

Extérieur de l'église Saint-Martin en plein cœur d'Harfleur

The Church of Saint-Martin d'Harfleur

Considered the jewel of Gothic architecture in Normandy, the Church of Saint-Martin d’Harfleur holds the spire of its bell tower “Phare du Pays de Caux” 83 metres above the banks of the Lézarde.

Over the centuries, projects and ambitions mean its architecture has been reshaped. In addition, restoration campaigns have made good the destruction and damage caused by revolution or war. The latest addition is the stained glass cladding of the 15 bays.

Intérieur de l'église Saint-Martin à Harfleur

The city in partnership with the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs and the bishopric has initiated a creative programme covering the 280m² of glass roofing.

The artistic project based around sharing is the joint work of Bernard Piffaretti (painter) and the Duchemin workshops.

Visitor are invited to find the path of light, directing them towards the choir, thanks to the colours used: blue, yellow, orange, red, purple plus translucent glass.

Nouveaux vitraux de l'église Saint-Martin d'Harfleur

Harfleur Town Hall

An old château, characteristic of the architecture of the 17th century with its high roofs and large windows, it was built on land ceded by King Louis XIII to Pierre COSTE, Lord of Saint Supplix, Councillor to the Parliament of Normandy.

A few years after its construction, the estate was enlarged by the purchase of land belonging to the parish. It changed hands over the centuries and in 1910 belonged to Charles Schneider, owner of the newly installed arms factory in Harfleur.

In 1953, the commune bought the estate, had the house restored and transformed it into a Town Hall. The park, originally French-style, was redesigned in 1949 as an English-style garden.

Le parc de la mairie d'Harfleur
Centre de la commune d'Harfleur

Elsa Triolet Library - Former Town Hall

In 1554, Louis GUILLARD sold his manor house (dating from the late 15th century) to the town of Harfleur to make it a common house. The timber-framed façades were replaced at the end of the 19th century by a brick wall. From 1953 to 1973, the building housed the treasury department and then the municipal library.

The Museum of the Priory of Harfleur

Housed in a 15th-century inn frequented by Portuguese merchants in the flourishing days of the royal port of Harfleur, this establishment now illustrates local history from prehistoric times to the present day.

The permanent archaeological collections, consisting of luxurious glassware, imported Italic or Rhenish items (1st – 4th centuries), and common ceramics produced on the site, come from excavations carried out over the last fifty years.

Le musée du Prieuré d'Harfleur

A rich collection of clothing including weapons, jewellery and everyday objects. Illustrates the early Middle Ages, while objects discovered in house excavations from the 14th to the 17th centuries represent medieval and modern urban habitation. Of note is a collection of prints (20th century) and objects from a farm specialising in dairy production (1920 – 1963).

Vélocyclistes à Harfleur

The Porte de Rouen (Rouen Gate), a fortress in the Hundred Years' War

Harfleur has preserved high-quality monumental sections of its ancient medieval fortifications erected as protection from the English invaders. The historic site of the Porte de Rouen, an iconic part of the ramparts of Harfleur, is worth a visit, in the form of a plunge into a past when the city was the main port of Normandy.

Harfleur, the natural spaces

Located in the commune of Harfleur in a preserved but fragile setting, the Domaine du Colmoulins, covering a surface area of approximately 27 hectares, was classified in 2009 as a “Local Sensitive Natural Area” by the Seine-Maritime Department. This area, grazed by Konik Polski ponies and cows of the “pie noire bretonne” breed, is home to some rare or remarkable animal and plant species, such as the southern damselfly or the discreet marsh fern. 

La flore du domaine du Colmoulins

Of Brefdent Farm, built in 1866, only a few traces remain (barn, dairy and laundry room). It became a model farm at the beginning of the 20th century, in particular thanks to the presence of a spring that kept the milk, which is foreign to any bacteria, cool. Part of the field was given a new life with the arrival of Justine and Marc two years ago.

The town of Harfleur rented a total area of 1.8 hectares to them, of which 5000m² is devoted to the cultivation of organic vegetables. They are indeed part of “a network of market gardening on living soil. ” That is, they don’t use chemical fertilisers: once the harvest is done, they cover the land with large black cloths to let the grass break down, providing a natural fertiliser.

Groupe de personnes en costumes médiévaux pour la Fête de la Scie

The unmissable Saw Festival

Harfleur’s medieval Saw Festival attracts 20,000 visitors every year over two days. Dreams, thrills, burlesque and laughter are all in the spotlight on different stages, as is wandering all around the historic centre: the Medieval Camp in the Town Hall Park, the Priory Museum, the Elsa Triolet Library.

A truely colourful and very diversified festival, you can attend the shows featuring groups, brass bands and percussionists in the streets and experience in the Church of Saint Martin a more subdued, festive atmosphere.

Harfleur, fête de la scie
Artisan en costume médiéval, entrain d'écrire alors qu'une personne le regarde

Harfleur and Impressionism

Harfleur appears in compositions by Turner and Jongkind.

La Forge

The cultural centre of the town of Harfleur, La Forge has several spaces including Le Creuset, a 350-seat hall dedicated to shows (theatre, music…), and the Founders’ Gallery, a place for exhibitions (photos, paintings, sculptures). 


La commune d'Harfleur, traversée par la Lézarde, où se tient la Fête de la Scie

50 rue de la RépubliqueMairieBP 97HARFLEURTel. 02 35 13 30 58E-mailWebsiteLearn more

You may also like...

Centre culturel La Forge

Land-based activities

Centre culturel La Forge


Eglise Saint-Martin

Land-based activities

Eglise Saint-Martin