A Summer in Le Havre 2017: 500th anniversary of the port and City

The 500th anniversary of Le Havre will see the city and port come alive like never before, with festivities and special events taking place from 27 May to 5 November 2017. All accross the city, from the historic docks to the shopping district and the beach, art exhibitions, street parades, theatrical performances and boat races will be taking place over five months, making for a summer to remember. There has never been a better moment to visit Le Havre, the gateway to Normandy.

5 months of festivities to mark the 500th anniversary of Le Havre

During the entire summer season, the whole of the city and its port will come alive with art installations, street parades, concerts and exhibitions.

The festivities will begin on 27 May with an impressive opening ceremony orchestrated by the Art Point M Collective, the team behind the popular N.A.M.E electronic music festival that takes place every year in Lille. The event will be a spectacular celebration of all things cultural, with festivities extending all the way from the upper town in the hills to the beach.

The highlight of the summer will be the return from 7 to 9 July of the Royal De Luxe Company’s impressive giant mechanical marionettes for a unique show which will take place throughout the entire city.

On 8 October, the closing ceremony will be a huge public get-together and visual spectacle. An interactive digital installation will also be unveiled as a new landmark for the city and will act as a permanent legacy of the anniversary celebrations.

Monet's masterpiece reurns to Le Havre

Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise, which gave its name to the Impressionist movement, returns to the city where it was originally painted in 1872. During a one-month exhibition at the MuMa (Modern Art Museum), visitors will be able to view the painting alongside a selection of works by Eugène Boudin, William Turner or Raoul Dufy.

From 10 September to 8 October 2017

Contemporary art in the heart of the city

Contemporary art tours and permanent installations

From 27 May to 20 August, a retrospective of 80 works by Pierre et Gilles, famous for their atypical portraits mixing photography and painting, will take place at the MuMa (Modern Art Museum).

Throughout the city, visitors will come across Julien Berthier's altoviseur, a giant mirror installed on top of the train station, Chiharu Shiota's futuristic installation inside Saint-Joseph Church or Vincent Ganivet's audacious and colorful sculpure displayed on the Quai De Southampton.

Created in 1992, the Japanese garden sealing the twinning of the ports of Le Havre and Osaka is normally closed to the public. For the first time, it will be open throughout the duration of the event for everyone to enjoy its exotic treasures. Echoing this friendship between the two cities, the BaZooka company will create a floating zen temple boasting an underwater observation deck in the midst of the Bassin de la Barre.

Usually unoccupied, the old transatlantic terminal will be open during the summer season, with artistic events taking place during the day and big club nights kicking off once the sun sets.

Take a fresh look at Le Havre

Founded by King Francis I in 1517, the city has never stopped reinventing itself throughout the centuries. Severely bombed at the end of World War II, Le Havre was one of the worst affected cities in Europe. A visionary architect was put in charge of the post-war reconstruction of the city: Auguste Perret. He was one of the world's pioneers in using concrete, a material he favoured not only for its structural stability, but also because he maintained he could achieve a uniform effect with it. Often debated, mostly misunderstood, his work finally received the recognition it deserved in 2005 when Le Havre's city centre was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, the city is popular with contemporary architecture lovers, who come to admire Saint-Joseph Church and its 110 metre high steeple, Oscar Niemeyer's Volcano or Les Bains des Docks, a modern swimming complex designed by Jean Nouvel.


A Summer in Le Havre 2017

From 27 May to 5 November 2017




  • Le Havre was founded by King Francis I of France in 1517 to establish a major port for his kingdom. In 1562 it was given to Queen Elizabeth I of England under the terms of the Treaty of Hampton Court. However, by 1563 it was again the property of the French. Under Napoleon it became a first class naval port, while in the first World War it was a landing area for British expeditionary forces. During World War II the city suffered much damage and 5,000 civilians died. The Germans blew up the docks before their surrender in September 1944.
  • It was in Le Havre that Claude Monet painted Impression, Sunrise in 1872. This painting gaive its name to the Impressionist movement.
  • Architect Oscar Niemeyer, who imagined and designed Le Volcan (The Volcano), one of the city's most famous landmarks, was Brazilian.

A photogenic City

  • Finish film director Aki Kaurismäki obtained the International Critics' Prize at the Cannes film festival in 2011 for his film Le Havre. Little Bob, a famous figure of the City's rock scene, plays a small part in the film.

Bird's-eye view of Le Havre !

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