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Le Havre Mini Guide
I’ve Often Caught the Ferry to Le Havre but Never Stopped. What Have I Missed?
Many people do the same, missing out on the treasures of this unique city. Almost totally destroyed by allied bombing towards the end of World War II, it was rebuilt using the plans of just one man, Auguste Perret, who decided that the quickest way to rebuild was to use poured concrete for almost every building. Whilst this sounds very dull and grey, many of his buildings have become world renowned, earning the city status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is a port of entry for Paris but still has the beautiful estuary of the Seine and a stunning city beach.
How do I get to Le Havre?
There’s an airport, five miles away, which only accepts domestic flights so most people arrive there on the ferry from Portsmouth
or Newhaven. The journey takes from only three and a half hours. The port is part of the city so you should be able to walk into the city centre with ease. You can hire a car at the port for onward travel if you are visiting Paris
or further afield.
What’s There to see and do in Le Havre?
There is a lot to see, especially if you’re a fan of 1950s architecture. The main sight is the cathedral whose tower is lined with multi-coloured glass. Another of Perret’s masterpieces is the town hall, located on the largest square in France. Head next for the Malraux Museum which has the most extensive impressionist collection outside Paris. If you go to the St Vincent quarter of the town you’ll find an area which avoided much of the destruction. There are pretty buildings grouped around the old church and many families come here for its quiet charm. In summer you can also take an umbrella and deck chair to the city beach and sit on the soft yellow sand watching the boats come in and out of the Seine.
What can I buy for Souvenirs in Le Havre?
You’ll find the finest cheese and cider in Normandy and many suppliers or shops sell each, gift packaged to take home with you. You could also buy boxes of chocolate from Chocolaterie Auzou, some of the finest you’ll find in Northern France.
What Should I eat in the Restaurants?
Fresh fish is a speciality in Le Havre and there are many ways to eat it; from bouillabaisse to grilled, steamed or roasted. Favourites include the summer mackerel and sardines. On the streets you’ll find the omnipresent ‘creperies’ for a light snack whilst you wander the sights of the city.
Does the City Have any Notable Festivals?
Around mid-August there is a flower parade in the city with floats, costumes and music. On the first weekend in September, the city has a festival dedicated to fishermen when all the boats are decorated and a procession of boats crosses the harbour for good luck through the winter. You should also try to be in the city for the Fest Yves which is a traditional Breton festival. On Bastille Day, there’s a great fireworks display too.