On the Northern Coast of France, in the Calvados Region, you will find the historic city of Honfleur. One certainly doesn’t visit this town for its weather, which is chilly, rainy and dreary more often than not. But if you can get past the somewhat depressing atmospheric conditions, you will find a quaint town with fine examples of 12th-16th century architecture and one of the most beautiful and picturesque ports I have ever seen. We spent 2 1/2 days in Honfleur on our recent trip to France, wandering the narrow streets, catching views of the Pont de Normandy, visiting the Eric Satie (musical composer) Museum, exploring Saint-Catherine’s Church (the largest wooden church in France dating back to the 1400’s) and eating their delicious mussels. But, by far, the most unique and “interesting” place we visited in town was the home of artist Florence Marie, know as La Forge.
It is hard to tell if when visiting La Forge you are visiting a home which is like a museum or if you are visiting a museum where someone lives. The reality is, it’s both. Florence Marie purchased the building in 1994. Since then, over the course of 20 years she has turned almost every inch of her home into a piece of art. Her front and back yards are places where magical spirits live in the form of sculptures made out of wood, metal, mosaic or whatever materials Florence Marie can find. She doesn’t seem to limit herself based on artistic medium; all options are open. It’s an imaginary world come to life that feels whimsical and care free but take heed, there might be a beast right behind you.
But the artistry doesn’t end with her sculptured yard. Walk into her home/museum, and every wall is a painting, every light fixture a sculpture, every piece of furniture an art piece. Her kitchen table is designed with mosaic tiles but note, this is not just for arts sake, she eats at this table. While everything in the house is art, everything in the house is also functional. Florence Marie’s bed is a mattress between bookcases and a privacy screen a painting. Even her bathroom is a work of art!
LaForge located at 25 Rue de la Foulerie in Honfleur has visits at 3:00 PM and 4:30 PM on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If you want to visit, you should contact Florence Marie by phone, 02 31 89 49 39 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be sure the tour is available. We were in Honfleur during the week but Florence Marie was more than accommodating when contacted to provide us with a private tour based on mutual availability. It is not inexpensive to visit LaForge, 10 Euros per person at the time of our visit, but you would expect to pay at least that at any museum, and this is, after all, a museum. You may find your visit fascinating or you may find your visit bizarre, but I guarantee you, it will be a visit you will never forget.