This collection of beautiful old maps of the Normandy coast reveal a lot more than a changing shoreline; each is topped with a wide view of the town. Close-up they are filled with tiny accurate details, giving us a wonderful snapshot of a long lost world. Often church towers look familiar, while windmills no longer top hills and little cottages have been swept away.
Open the maps in a tab on their own for a much bigger view.
These maps of Honfleur, Dieppe, Fecamp, Le Havre and Quilleboeuf are from ‘Compendium; topographic maps of the Normandy coast from Treport to Cherbourg with the special plans and memoirs of the places in the year 1678‘.
At this time France under Louis XIV dominated Europe and much of the high seas. Normandy ports were busy as the French built a huge merchant marine and traded in India, Madagascar and the Middle East. A man from Honfleur founded Quebec in ‘New France’ and French explorers went deep into North America, while businessmen established vast plantations in the West Indies.
These townscapes represent the first view of France for sailors and fishermen returning from days, weeks or even months at sea. How precious each tower and turret must have been as they finally reached home, clutching their freshly made fortune, or failure.
View the original 15 maps on Gallica