150 km from Paris and 20 km from Honfleur, in the heart of the Risle valley in Upper Normandy, stands the proud town of Pont Audemer, the little Venice of Normandy. Before booking your stay at our hotel Belle Isle sur Risle hotel in Pont Audemer, you may have never heard of this cute little town.
Here’s a look at a little-known town that’s well worth a visit!
A town of tanners built around the River Risle
Just as at the Belle Isle sur Risle hotel, the river Risle and water are omnipresent in the town. The town is criss-crossed by the Risle, the Tourville stream and the Véronne. Pont Audemer was founded around the 11th century, where it was easiest to cross the river, hence its name. In the 12th century, many craftsmen settled here, setting up tannery workshops amongst other shops. In the 18th century, a large English community arrived and brought new techniques to the tanning and paper-making industries. By 1800, the town had more than 80 tanners. In 1821, Thierry Hermès, founder of the famous Hermès company, learned the trade of saddlery here.
During the First World War, the town supplied large quantities of leather to the army. This was followed by a decline due to deindustrialisation at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, with the closure of the foundry, the Costil tanneries and the cardboard factory.
However, Pont Audemer has managed to reinvent itself by developing tourism and showcasing its rich cultural heritage.
What can you visit in Pont Audemer?
First of all, the best way to visit the town is certainly by kayak. You can hire a kayak and discover the town’s heritage, skin dryers, corbelled houses and pretty little stone bridges from the river. The company “les castors rislois” (https://lescastorsrislois.fr) will let you hire a kayak for 1 hour 15 minutes for just 12 euros.
For the less sporty, the town can also be explored on foot. Apart from the narrow streets, half-timbered houses and townhouses, here are a couple of monuments not to be missed during your visit to Pont Audemer:
The Church of Saint Ouen and its organ
The instrument, which dates back to the Renaissance, was completely restored between 1996 and 2000. It is now listed as a historic monument because of its 16th-century woodwork. The stained glass windows are also well worth a visit: the church’s 14 ancient stained glass windows are extremely varied and well preserved.
The Canel Museum
The museum is housed in a fine bourgeois house and provides an insight into the world of Alfred Canel, scholar, writer and politician. The museum houses a library containing Alfred Canel’s personal collection on Normandy, as well as a contemporary exhibition space, which hosts 4 exhibitions a year.
Pont Audemer is also synonymous of…..
The Eclat theatre, which was completely modernised in 2000 by the architects Jakob and Macfarlane and offers more than 70 shows a year.
The Galerie Théroulde-arts & patrimoine, located in one of Pont Audemer’s oldest buildings. It features a heritage gallery and an arts and crafts gallery.
Finally, for those with a sweet tooth, Pont Audemer is the home of the Mirliton, the speciality of the town’s pastry chefs. It is a biscuit roll filled with praline cream and closed at both ends by a small chocolate cork….simply delicious!
The town of Pont Audemer is definitely worth visiting and is a well-kept secret. If you decide to stop over in Pont Audemer, there’s only one address: the Belle Isle sur Risle hotel!
Tel: 00-33 2 32 56 96 22 and email: email@example.com