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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > France > Le Havre

About Le Havre

Formerly considered a rather drab and grey place, its atmosphere has, thanks to its inhabitants, returned to reclaim the city’s pre-war spirit, fully justifying its nickname: ‘Porte Océane’, or ‘Ocean Gate’.

Le Havre stands by the Seine Bay, some 200km (125 miles) west of Paris, and is also the country’s main embarkation point for cruise ships.
Although utterly devastated during WWII, the centre of Le Havre, France’s biggest port, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 for its ‘innovative utilisation of concrete’s potential’.

Sightseeing:

Heavily bombed during the last war, Le Havre lost most of its historic buildings. However, the main church, Notre Dame Cathedral, was only partially destroyed, and was subsequently rebuilt to form an elegant counterpoint to the modern architecture surrounding it.

Other surviving historical buildings of note include the 18th-century Shipowner’s House.

Numerous museums and galleries provide cultural interest, and in summer, there are several beaches for the sun-seekers.

Highlights

• Malraux Art Museum
• Museum of Natural History
• The Corinne le Monnier Gallery
• Saint Joseph’s Church
• Japanese Garden
• Day trips in rural Normandy

Tourist information:

Office de Tourisme
Boulevard Clemenceau 186, Le Havre, France.
Tel: +33 2327 40404.
Website: www.le-havre-tourism.com

Shopping introduction:

There are three principal shopping areas. Halles Centrales district is close to the cruise port, and offers several streets of specialist shops. Saint Vincent district caters for those in search of designer goods, clothing, jewellery and other luxury goods, while the Coty shopping centre features 80 outlets on three floors. Specialist items include fashion, French delicatessen, and of course, cheese.

Restaurants:

France is, as everyone knows, proud of its cuisine, and cruise passengers will find cafes and restaurants dotted around the city. From light snacks such as croque monsieur to Normandy oysters and full-blown three-course meals, there is no shortage of dining possibilities.

When to go:

Normandy has a temperate maritime climate, with cool damp winters and warm, occasionally hot, summers. However it can rain at any time of year, so waterproofs are advisable. Average temperatures range from around 3°C (37°F) in January to 23° (74°) in August.

Nearest destination:

Le Havre.

Transfer distance:

2.5km (1.5 miles).

Transfer time:

10 minutes.