Updated on 29 June 2020
Reading time: 2 minutes
Your approach to the port of le Havre is marked by a spire and a bridge, both modern, concrete and cutting edge. Your backdrop is the graceful arc of the Normandy Bridge that straddles the estuary of the Seine. Your destination is Le Havre, ideally positioned for maritime traffic between the North Sea and the Atlantic, the second port of France (the first for container traffic) and happy to receive the largest and smallest of ships 24/7. Le Havre also has two dedicated quays to receive river cruise ships in the old docks area, now a shopping centre.
Le Havre is the perfect starting point for trips up towards Rouen and Paris. Its association with the liners of the past confers a great pedigree, and it remains the favoured port as “the gateway to Paris”, only 3 hours from the capital by coach.
The town is relatively young by Normandy standards, invented in 1517 as a deep-draught tide-free harbour, and re-invented by the architect Auguste Perret after the obliteration of the old town in 1944. On our approach the first thing we see is the Church of Saint Joseph with its vertiginous 107m tall spire pierced by panels of coloured light.
Perret, the “King of Concrete ”would win posthumous acclaim in 2005 in the listing of Le Havre by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and if you have the opportunity to visit the church and the rectilinear boulevards of his city around it you will see how he introduced light and space to create a whole new town with modern facilities that today we take for granted. And then there’s the very wonderful André Malraux Museum with its unmissable collection of Impressionist paintings! For exploring Normandy everything is to hand.
Professional accredited guides can accompany you to Etretat and the Alabaster Coast, to Giverny and Monet’s gardens, to Honfleur, Deauville, the Côte Fleurie and the Pays d’Auge, and of course to Caen and the D-Day Landing Beaches nearby. There is such a wealth of opportunity to experience Normandy, be it ye olde worlde markets or the march of modernism, homage to our liberators or the fleshpots of Deauville!