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11 July - 4 October 2020
Le Havre is unlike anywhere else in Normandy. Boasting modern architecture, relaxed seaside vibes and a buzzing social scene, this port city has been hosting a diverse summer season of events every year since it celebrated its 500th anniversary back in 2017, and has made quite a name for itself as a creative and artistic hub. This year’s A Summer in Le Havre features art installations, temporary exhibitions and other festivities from July until October 2020.
MODERN ART FOR A MODERN CITY
Once it’s safe to travel to France, why not soak up some culture in Le Havre, which is running its fourth ‘A Summer in Le Havre’ season? Orchestrated by Jean Blaise, a respected authority in contemporary art, this year’s programme will feature 18 temporary large-scale art installations, four art-themed walking trails around the city, three major art exhibitions and much more. Last year saw installations set up outside the iconic St Joseph’s Church and the beautiful Hanging Gardens, located in a former fort overlooking the city.
Also worth seeing are the permanent art installations around the centre of Le Havre, set up especially for the city and port’s 500th anniversary in 2017. Designer Vincent Ganivet’s Catène installation on the Quai de Southampton comprises two huge interlinking arches of colourful shipping containers, and has become the city’s newest and most loved landmark, representing Le Havre’s importance as the largest container port in France. Other installations to look out for include Impact, Stéphane Thidet’s hypnotic fountains on the Bassin de Commerce (opposite the Volcano) and Lang and Baumann’s angular white installation known as UP#3, set up on the pebble beach to align with the city’s main boulevard that opens out onto the sea. A stone’s throw from UP#3 are Le Havre’s cheerful multi-coloured beach huts, formerly white, which were repainted in 2017 by designer Karel Marten.
Stay tuned to this page for further updates on this year’s ‘A Summer in Le Havre’ programme…
Did you know…
- Le Havre was founded in 1517 by King Francis I of France, who ordered the creation of a deep-water, fortified port. His namesake neighbourhood, Saint-François, is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city.
- The city was the setting and inspiration for Claude Monet’s famous 1872 painting Impression, Sunrise, which gave rise to the artistic term ‘Impressionism’.
- The entire city centre of Le Havre was rebuilt by Auguste Perret in the 1950s after it was bombed in World War II, and was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2005.
- Le Havre is home to the ‘Volcano’, a landmark designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, who also designed Brasilia. Incidentally, Le Havre and Brasilia are the only two 20th-century cities listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki was awarded the Prix de la Critique Internationale at the 2011 Cannes Festival for his film Le Havre. Little Bob, a French rock ’n’ roll star from the city, had a small part in it.
A Summer in Le Havre
Free of charge (exclusing certain museum exhibitions)
11 July – 4 October 2020
Following the French Government’s call to stop social gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers of large-scale events in Normandy are currently taking the appropriate precautions to ensure visitors’ safety. Fireworks displays may be cancelled or postponed. Please check these events’ official websites or social media channels before undertaking any travel.