deco stain
deco stain
outside view of La Boucane restaurant with white flowers - honfleur hotel

Honfleur hotel

A Farm of Beauty with a prestigious artistic past!

In this beautiful Farm Inn, constructed in the 17th century, a gust of novelty once blew through its walls. Around 1840, numerous young artists found refuge within these venerable premises. Thanks to the warm hospitality of Madame Toutain, who presided over the place during that era, these painters, yearning for nature and the fresh sea breeze, created a multitude of exceptional and now famous artworks. These gatherings of extraordinary and joyful artists gave birth to the renowned Saint Siméon meetings.

Throughout history, artists primarily worked outdoors, even if just to furnish the backdrop for allegories. Then, the idea emerged that a landscape could be picturesque and worthy of being depicted for its own sake, thus expressing the artist's sensitivity and emotion.

A privileged panorama: the Seine Estuary. The immense, magnificent river, the sea and its changing horizons, the constantly vaporous atmosphere, a prism of shifting light, decomposing colours, clouds rolling across the limpid blue or the sometimes soft, sometimes leaden, always improbable greys. Sudden gusts of wind, a trickle of luminous showers, diaphanous flows of yellow and ochre rays. The marvel of these changing pictures, which our young painters wanted to make their own, are now more than ever cherished by the arts.

painting by Monet entitled La Charrette, route sous la neige à Honfleur - honfleur hotel
exterior view of a window at La Boucane - honfleur hotel

The air, the water, the light... Moments.

These children of light came together and mingled, to the delight of all, at La Ferme Saint Siméon, where the kind Madame Toutain, since 1825, spared no effort to please them, pampering them with abundant delights and the delicious recipes she held dear, which became the hallmark of her Norman table.

Thus, this group of nature-loving painters, all captivated by the sea and its skies, gathered in this welcoming inn in every way.
We think of Boudin, Jongkind, Corot, Courbet, Bazille, Monet, and so many other talents that we no longer count, Daubigny, Dubourg, Isabey, Lebourg, Troyon. The list goes on and on! All of them, happy and well fed, quenching their thirst with tasty cider and full-flavoured calvados, began to produce a host of works, each more beautiful than the last... A vast output that can still be found today in France's finest museums (Orsay, Musée Eugène Boudin, Musée Malraux), or, on the occasion of a few estates, in the major auction rooms.

Often, these young, financially modest artists would leave an artwork as payment for their board and lodging with Madam Toutain. This is how a vast collection was assembled during that time, rich with unforgettable encounters.

painting at the saint siméon farm - honfleur hotel
gate at the entrance to the saint siméon farm - luxury hotel france

This good Mother Toutain, who ran the inn at the time. Canonicat of age? Perhaps. Gossip, of course! By jovial familiarity. A mistress woman, a colourful character, frank and outspoken, with a hint of 'maternal' compassion towards these inconsistent, often endearing young boys. They were her spoilt children. "They were all part of the charming and certainly noisy tables, well-watered with the Norman delicacies that one imagines were generously served.
"Come on Rose! Go and "kri" some cider, these gentlemen have "sé"! And Rose ran off to the cellar where huge barrels were lined up full of the golden beverage.

The beautiful inn still overlooks its Estuary today.

To describe it even now, one can turn to Lucie Delarue Mardrus, the renowned poet born in Honfleur, who put words where others put strokes of colorful pastels.
"In the air of the Côte de Grâce, one breathes in the marvelous. For there lies the Estuary in seven colors. You see it at the bottom of a great hollow, between the dark branches of beautiful trees; there are sailboats on the Estuary, sunsets reflected far away at low tide on the glazed, exquisite mud of our region; the beauty close at hand, with white and pink springs, royal autumns, fallen bouquets on the rolling lawns one strolls upon; it's all there amidst round clouds and flat azures, mists, and rains."

view of the historic house at la ferme saint siméon - luxury hotel france
outside view of La Boucane restaurant - honfleur hotel

And Monet wrote to his friend Bazille, "Every day, I discover even more beautiful things, it's enough to drive one mad."
Today, just like in the past, the beautiful La Ferme Saint Siméon maintains its privileged position, continuously overlooking its Estuary, as if raising itself higher to better observe the waves and the skies that will forever mix under our amazed gaze.
The various buildings are still here. The farm itself in the blue-green reflections of its slate coat, the half-timbered pavilion where animals and people once coexisted, and the marvelous thatched cottage, facing it with its straw hat. Once painted by Monet, it was also the complicit witness of the "Saint Siméon meetings," where Boudin, the local boy, led Monet and the entire gang into endless conversations, while these gentlemen savored the fine apple brandy, having temporarily set aside their brushes.

Even today, the beautiful rooms still exist, and you can sleep in the very room that was once Monet's (room 22) or in Corot's studio (room 19). These two artists were particularly attached to these rooms. Monet, for the permeating light that bathed it, and Corot because he worked and stayed in his room, whose massive, cantilevered window allowed him to oversee every change in the hues of his beloved Estuary... After enchanting all these artists, what better way than to follow in their footsteps, letting yourself be dazzled and enchanted by an extraordinary experience.
For example, you can take painting lessons with an artist from one of Honfleur's oldest fishing families, who loves the beautiful glow of this wonderfully preserved little port.
For those who pass by without always seeing it, take the time for a beneficial stop in this timeless Farm, facing the incomparable light that so many eyes, whether blue or black, have admired without reservation.

exterior view of a window in the historic house at Ferme Saint Siméon - luxury hotel france