“Whether you choose B&B or self-catering, this warm and welcoming auberge is perfect for a romantic weekend in Honfleur”
The B&B rooms are each decorated differently and lavishly: Farrow & Ball wallpapers, Pierre Frey textiles, Porthault bedding, brass bedsteads, lacquered armchairs and mahogany chests of drawers. Most look over the garden and all have ensuite bathrooms with tasteful toiletries.
On the second floor, Double Room Chez Rene (named after the former owner) is decorated in shades of mint and black, with lacy wallpaper, a wrought-iron bedstead and candelabra bedside lights. Opposite lie the other 2 Double Rooms, La Directoire and Le Kiosque, separate rooms which can be interconnected. Le Kiosque was designed with single women in mind (a salute to Penny's years as a solo traveller). Twin Room La Directoire, decorated in muted orange and greens, has original-style floor tiles (a deep rusty red) and 4 tall windows overlooking rue Haute. The bathroom fuses modern fixtures with an old-style bathtub.
The third floor houses Double Room Mauve and the 2 Suites (La Chambre Bleue and Le Studio Atelier). Mauve is set under the lucarnes (sloped eave ceilings), and is the smallest (but also one of the most romantic) of them all, with soft mauves and greens, exposed wooden beams and a garden view. La Chambre Bleue is a medley of 18th-century French fabrics, antique linens and oversized pillows. The soft blues and greens are pretty and soothing, and it's a large, quiet room with a garden view. Le Studio Atelier breaks from tradition with a rather more modern styling: monochrome colours and bright splashes of modern art fill the bedroom, living room and kitchenette of this airy loft space. Also with cooking facilities is first floor Apartment Jasmine which has a full kitchen as well as a double and a twin bedroom; it’s the latest addition (2014), and we’re yet to see it.
Next door, at 42 rue Haute, are 3 self-catering apartments housed in a 14th-century building. Its original wooden beams and stone floors give a picture of how the building used to look, but the furnishings are modern and stylish. You enter through a private courtyard garden and the bottom floor of the building is a boutique (which closes at 6pm). Apartment Rouge (sleep 2) is on the first floor, with a stunning original 14th-century fireplace (not functioning) and a cosy red colour scheme. Apartment Anis (sleeps 2) is ideal for a couple and is decorated in sage and muted yellow. Third floor Le Trois (no lift, don't forget) has plenty of windows for admiring the great views.
Two minutes' walk away, at 94 rue Haute, are 2 newer apartments (also self-catering). Gernez is a loft-style studio for 2, named after the early 20th-century painter (don't worry, we had not heard of him either) who completed many of his works here. Its first-floor living space boasts tall ceilings, wooden floors and a huge window over the lovely garden, with its sculpted box hedges. The apartment does not have access to the garden below but guest are welcome to use the garden at the main house. Priscilla, occupying the lower 2 floors, is the best option for a couple with 2 (older) children, having 2 bedrooms: 1 ground-floor double with French windows into the lovely garden, and 1 cosy attic twin (WC and basin only).
A typical but very generous French breakfast is served to B&B guests, at a communal table in the breakfast room, and the apartments can also have it delivered for an extra fee. All of its produce is locally sourced: apple juice and coffee, cup cakes, crepes, cheeses, homemade jams, fresh breads and pastries from the patisserie, and creamy yoghurts. Penny likes to mix it up and a different extra is available each day. Our favourite was the creamy fromage frais with a fruit coulis and fresh fruit, all from the market. If you'd prefer to eat separately, if on honeymoon perhaps, Penny can make up a separate table in the salon.
The apartments have their own kitchens, with espresso maker, teapot, toaster, small fridge hot plates and microwave - enough for a sumptuous DIY breakfast, or light lunches/dinners if you want - though it's not really intended for long-term self-catering. At Gernez and Priscilla, you'll even get bread and croissants delivered daily to your door; and a few basics (butter, coffee, jam, milk) in the fridge. In the B&B, Suite Le Studio Atelier has a basic kitchenette and Apartment Jasmine has a full kitchen.
Otherwise, you're right in the heart of Honfleur and there are some excellent restaurants within walking distance. The Michelin-starred Sa Qua Na is world class, and lots of international chefs come to Honfleur simply to eat here. We had an exquisite meal here dining on the five-course menu. If you are pushing the boat out, choose the more expensive 10-course menu for a culinary treat. Le Fleur du Sel and Le Breard come recommended, as does Le Vintage, a funky timbered jazz club/tapas bar. We also dined at newly opened Le Gambetta, just down the road from La Petite Folie, which was delicious.
The gastronomic specialties of the region include Calvados, cider and other apple-based drinks; world-famous cheeses such as Camembert, Pont L'Eveque, and Livarot; and sea food - mussels, oysters and scallops in particular.
If you're staying in the self-catering apartments ask Penny to direct you to the local markets (Saturdays and Wednesdays) where you can pick up gorgeous meats, cheese, salad and fresh breads. The kitchens are intended for simple snacks rather than slap-up feasts, and equipment varies, so check before booking if this is important to you. Rouge has a simple kitchenette with a sink, tea making facilities, crockery and cutlery; Anis' kitchen is more spacious, with a dishwasher, hotplate, microwave and cooking utensils. Gernez and Priscilla both have microwave, fridge-freezer, coffee maker, dishwasher and toaster - but no stove.
This hotel is not suitable for children. Well behaved kids over 10 are welcome in the self-catering Apartments Priscilla and Jasmine (max 4 guests including children), and babysitting can be arranged. But for security reasons and the comfort of other guests who are primarily couples, children are not accepted in the other apartments or in the B&B sections of La Petite Folie.
Teens (over 12)
Apartments Priscilla and Jasmine are the best (and only!) option. Both have 1 double and 1 twin bedroom. Priscilla's bedrooms each have their own toilet.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.