Le Havre is a port city at the mouth of the Seine, on the English Channel (French: Manche) in the region of Upper Normandy in France.
Le Havre is French for "the harbour". Historically, Le Havre has always been the harbour for Paris, with goods transferring there between ocean-going vessels and barges which go to Paris via the Seine.
Le Havre was heavily bombed during the Battle of Normandy. The reconstruction of the town was undertaken by August Perret using reinforced concrete. This project has led to the city being added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Le Havre has a small airport with services running to Lyon, Amsterdam and Brighton. You can reach 200 destinations all over the world via Amsterdam.
Traffic in the southern approach to Le Havre has benefitted from the construction of the huge Pont de Normandie over the Seine estuary. However, whilst certainly impressive from an architectural standpoint, during busy summer weekends the entire structure can seem more like a car-park. Expect long delays (up to an hour) to cross the 4km toll bridge (Current cost about 5.80 Euros).
The centre of town is easily covered on foot.
A local bus service runs regularly around town.
The ferry port and train station are a short walk out from the centre of town and buses run on these routes.
Rent a bike for a few euros at the tourist office or at the bus parked along the beach during the season.
St Joseph's Church was a key project designed by August Perret in the rebuilding of the city. Its tall tower is lined with coloured glass lending the interior a unique tranquility.
Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) is situated on one of the largest squares in France. The interior has information on the city. It is possible to climb the tower for view of the lay out of the city.
Showflat, designed by city designer August Perret, is now open for public viewing.
Malraux Museum, houses the largest Impressionist collection in France outside of Paris.
Cultural Centre (the Volcano) designed by leading architect Oscar Neimeyer is located in the centre of town.
Maison de l'Armateur (opposite the ferries) One of the few old houses which were not destroyed during World War II. A magnificent house of 5 floors, nicely decorated and furnished in the style of its construction (18th century), when it belonged to rich families. A very interesting visit especially if you also visit Auguste Perret's showflat in City Hall Square showing what was life was like in the '50s ... You will understand the complex history of the city ...
Museum d'histoire naturelle ... in an old building which miraculously survived the terrible bombings on September 5th, 1944. Interesting museum (free) a lot of activities for children.
Nearby, Cathedrale Notre Dame. Visit it and walk around it. You'll get a striking contrast between the 15th century cathedral and the buildings constructed in the '50s and '60s around it. The foundations of the cathedral are lower than the other buildings because they were built on the ruins of the old town.
The view of the port (bassin du commerce) with its lovely bridge and both the Volcano and steeple of St Joseph's church in the background. Nice both in the day or at night. On the north quay ... the Casino (gambling, fine restaurants, hotel, spa).
St Vincent district is an old district near the beach which didn't suffer too much from the terrible bombings that flattened the city in 1944 and in which 5,000 people died in the ruins in a few hours. The little church and the square around it evoke a village atmosphere in southern France. During the season, painters gather on the square and give an impression of "Montmartre".
Every year on the first Sunday after August 15th a traditional parade is organized in the city. Flowered carriages, people in costumes, floral floats, music, etc.
Every second year (the first one took place in 2006), Le Havre is home to a Contemporary Art Exhibition in the casino and everywhere in the streets of the city centre.
Every year on the first weekend of September Le Havre holds a "Fishermen's Festival"
In May is "Fest Yves" a traditional festival from Brittany in quartier St François.
Every July 14th, traditional fireworks on the beach (at 11pm).
Climb the tower of Hotel de Ville for an overview of August Perret's planned city. Beautiful!
Enjoy the beach in good weather (restaurants, bars, night life)
Relax in the glow of the unique St Joseph's Church
Drive over the River Seine on the gorgeous bridge "Pont de Normandie" Then you will be in Honfleur, one of Normandy's prettiest places.
Enjoy a walk in the posh residential area of Ste Adresse overlooking the Le Havre bay and enjoy nice views of the bay and the city
Visit the port (whether on a boat or by bike: more information in many languages from the tourist office situated along the beach)
Rent a bike at the tourist office for a couple of euros and enjoy the seafront and the city centre at its best. You can also ride to Harfleur (eastern suburb) which is a lovely medieval town! Montivilliers, a few miles away is also worth a visit. Nice abbey and town center.
After the beach, enjoy a forest in the middle of the city "forêt de Montgeon"
Les jardins suspendus (fort de Sainte Adresse). Lovely walled garden and greenhouse in an old fort overlooking the city and the sea. Nice views! A nice walk on the walls! (Opening summer 2008)
Normandy is famous for its cider and its cheese. Go to "Les Halles" (south of the city centre near pedestrian aerea and Volcano) A covered market where you will find a selection of little shops selling excellent products (vegetables, cheese, meat, bakeries, wine, cider ... and a small supermarket)
You can buy local products in one of the seasonal sheds along the beach and at the tourist office
Chocolates "la tour" (the tower) Chocolaterie Auzou (near Espace Coty - Coty Mall)
Fresh fish from the fishermen (fish market) Opposite the ferry, in front of "maison de l'armateur" on "quai de l'ile" (island quay)
All sorts of hotels are to be found like in an other French big city.
The cheapest are outside the city
- Formule 1 in Gonfreville l'orcher
- B&B hotel in Harfleur
- Etap Hotel in Le Havre (quartier de l'Eure)
2 star hotels
Hotel Carmin, 15, rue Georges Braque, Le Havre, ☎ +33 (0)2 32 74 08 20, . Decent and clean budget option near Hotel de Ville. Very friendly staff. Free wifi. Breakfast costs extra.65-119 euros/night. edit
3 or 4 stars hotels
- The Casino (4 stars with nice spa)
- Vent d'Ouest (opposite St Joseph's church)
- Les voiles (near Ste Adresse - the beach)
- Novotel (the station)
- Mercure (between the station and the city center overlooking "bassin du commerce")
- Art Hotel (opposite the Volcano in the pedestrian area)
Many other affordable hotels around the station
Bed and Breakfasts
Cheap and nice B&B under brown beams. Phone: (00 33) (0)2 76 89 31 65 leave message and number if no answer.
Villa Neustrie, 36 Rue de Neustrie 76600 Le Havre, ☎ 0965136437, . Excellent bed and breakfast within 10 minutes walking of Hotel de Ville or the train station. Guests stay on their own floor with private bathroom (the floor has one room for 1-2 people, 60-65 euros, or two rooms for 3-4 people, 90-110 euros for both rooms). Very clean, beautifully decorated, and great attention to details. The free breakfasts are delicious, and include fresh-squeezed orange juice. Free wifi. 60 euros. edit