Le Havre

Normandie Tourisme
At the mouth of the Seine, the major port of Le Havre is a model of concrete grandeur. Devastated in World War II, with to the boldness of its reconstruction, it’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss Le Havre’s great waterside art museum, or the seaside pleasures of its marina and long pebble beach. And remember Le Havre is an important cross-Channel ferry port.

Le Havre

Claude Monet and Auguste Perret's cities

The great Impressionist artist Claude Monet painted a picture of an impression of the sun rising through the industrial chimneys of Le Havre, in 1872. An art critic unimpressed by this canvas, entitled ‘Impression, Sunrise’, dismissively dubbed Monet’s style of painting ‘Impressionism’; the name stuck, becoming associated with what is surely the best-loved art movement in the world!

To this day, Le Havre offers a captivating mix of industrial and natural grandeur. Reaching the centre of town, though, where estuary and Channel meet, there’s a remarkable feeling of space and light in this port city almost completely rebuilt after the terrible destruction wrought through World War II. Just a handful of historic buildings made of fine stone survived the appalling devastation.

A modern architect with a big vision was put in charge of the post-war reconstruction. Auguste Perret was one of the world’s pioneers in employing concrete. Not only was it cheap, he also reckoned he could achieve many new effects with it, as he proved. The whole design, though altered many times, turned out to be bold and grand. Perret’s modern transformation of Le Havre helped the place become the first modern town in France recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Modernity

Modern buildings and seaside suburbs

Perret’s plan has been added to by a few further exceptional modern buildings, including the MuMa André Malraux Museum of Modern Art and the Volcano arts centre, the latter by leading Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The most recent enticing architectural addition was designed by the renowned French practice of Jean Nouvel.

North of the all the docks, turn the corner from the Seine estuary and Le Havre faces the Channel full on. Here you’ll find the large yachting marina and, in summer, beach huts lined up along the shingle beach as far as Sainte-Adresse, the elegant seaside suburb of Le Havre, with great views out to the open sea. The slopes above have not just swanky villas, but also a 19th century fort turned public gardens with a view.

> Find out more about the Impressionist movement

 

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Le Havre, World Heritage Site