I realise I am lucky to live in a coastal city which has so much variety, but it also means it’s easy for visitors to miss some of quirkier things to see and do in Le Havre. I’ve listed some of these places for you to discover: a library with a difference, a futuristic church, an ultra-modern swimming pool and a speakeasy. 24 hours in Le Havre is the perfect time to get a flavour of this quirky city, seen through the eyes of a local!

1.

Oscar Niemeyer Media Library

When you consider the damage done to the city, devastated by the Second World War bombings, followed by its rapid reconstruction, it’s not surprising that the first thing you notice about Le Havre is its modernity. Reopened in 2010 after a revamp, Le Volcan is a monumental white volcano-shaped theatre you can see from almost everywhere in the city. Nicknamed the “yoghurt pot”, this space-age complex was designed by the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Understandably not to everyone’s taste, it’s a cool place to just hang out, definitely worth a detour: with its designer furniture and huge skylight, entering the building feels like being propelled into a science fiction film!

Oscar Niemeyer Media Library
Bibliothèque du Havre © Francis Cormon

Useful information

Oscar Niemeyer Media Library, Espace Oscar Niemeyer, 76600 Le Havre

2.

Les Bains des Docks aquatic centre

After a morning of sightseeing, there’s nothing like a refreshing dip in a pool especially if it’s in one of the world’s most modern and design aquatic centre. Make a splash in the city’s public baths composed of three main entities: a heated outdoor sports pool of Olympic size, an indoor-outdoor leisure pool, and spa with sauna, steam room and wellness area. Designed by the famous architect Jean Nouvel, the stark white complex is a must-see for architecture lovers and promises a wonderful relaxing time.

Les Bains des Docks aquatic centre
© L - Hent

Useful information

Les Bains des Docks, quai de la Réunion, 76600 Le Havre

3.

St Joseph's Church

Here’s another spectacular building you just can’t miss and that I hope your curiosity will lead you inside. A UNESCO-listed temple of concrete and stained glass, the incredible St Joseph’s Church stands as an icon of the city’s rejuvenation. Its impressive 110 metres high tower rises from the skyline and encapsulates the modern charm the city is beloved for. Look up and admire the 6,500 stained glass windows and their kaleidoscopic reflections on the walls. The futuristic aspect of this building will definitely appeal to science fiction lovers ready to enter another dimension.

St Joseph's Church
© Gregory Cassiau - Les Escapades

Useful information

St Joseph's Church, 130 boulevard François 1er, 76600 Le Havre

4.

The Architect speakeasy

Taking you off the beaten track, the Architect is a top speakeasy bar, open seven days a week. Facing the iconic Catène shipping container installation, the best secret bar of Le Havre was open by Damian Tither, an Australian barman never short of original ideas. Hidden off the busy street is a secret passageway leading to a back door, and beyond that door is “the attic”. Enter and you’ll find a cosy and intimate bar in a retro, 1920’s Prohibition-style environment to indulge in fantastic cocktails and…treat your taste buds to delicious Australian dishes made with fresh market produce!

Useful information

The Architect, 55 quai de Southampton, 76600 Le Havre

5.

Hôtel Oscar

Welcome to the Hôtel Oscar, located in a quintessentially city-centre post-war block overlooking the Volcano. The lobby immediately sets the retro tone and takes you back to the 1950s with vintage furniture. Plenty of retro details capture another time such the vintage breakfast tableware. The nostalgia extends into the rooms filled with details and vintage-inspired furniture referencing decades gone by, combined with all the modern comfort you’ll need to enjoy a fabulous stay! 

Useful information

Hôtel Oscar, 106 rue Voltaire, 76600 Le Havre

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