commune in Seine-Maritime, France

Le Havre is a port city at the mouth of the Seine, on the English Channel (French: Manche) in the region of Upper Normandy in France. Listed on the World Heritage List for its reconstructed city centre, Le Havre is challenging its reputation as an industrial city. It is a city full of contrasts, which should be explored to discover its particular charm.

Understand edit

Le Havre, originally le Havre de Grâce (Harbour of Grace), was founded in the early 16th century at the mouth of the Seine as the main harbour for Paris. Goods transferred at Le Havre between ocean-going vessels and barges which went to and from Paris via the Seine.

Le Havre was heavily bombed during the Battle of Normandy in 1944. The reconstruction of the town was undertaken by Auguste Perret using reinforced concrete. This project has led to the city being added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Get in edit

Map of Le Havre

By train edit

Trains run from Paris regularly, taking about 2 hours: most stop at Rouen en route. There is also a TGV from Marseille once a day.

By boat edit

Ferries run to Portsmouth and Newhaven in southern England daily. This service is provided by LD lines. Crossing times are from 3 hr 15 min[dead link]. Popular alternative routes going to areas close to Le Havre include Newhaven to Dieppe, and Poole to Cherbourg.

By cruise ship edit

The cruise terminal is just south of the ferry terminal. At the cruise terminal, you can pick up a map of the downtown city (very useful). A shuttle bus brings you downtown in about 5–10 minutes (2½ km). The dropoff point is on east side of rue de Paris, just before rue Victor Hugo. From this point, you can easily move about the downtown core.

By plane edit

The nearest airports offering scheduled international and domestic flights are at Deauville (DOL IATA), Beauvais (BVA IATA), and Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG IATA).

By car edit

Traffic in the southern approach to Le Havre has benefited from the construction of the huge Pont de Normandie over the Seine estuary. However, whilst certainly impressive from an architectural standpoint, during busy summer weekends the entire structure can seem more like a car-park. Expect long delays (up to an hour) to cross the 4 km toll bridge (about €6).

There is an Avis car hire agency at Gare du Havre (train station), on the corner of Cours de la République and Magellan Street. From City Hall, it's a 20-minute walk (1½ km) east along Boulevard de Strasbourg.

Get around edit

The centre of town is easily covered on foot.

A local bus service runs regularly around town.

The ferry port and train station are a short walk out from the centre of town and buses run on these routes.

Rent a bike for a few euros at the tourist office or at the bus parked along the beach during the season.

See edit

Maison de l'armateur
Church Saint-Vincent
  • The view of the port (bassin du commerce) with its lovely bridge and both the Volcano and steeple of St Joseph's church in the background. Nice both in the day or at night. On the north quay, the casino (gambling, fine restaurants, hotel, spa).
  • St Vincent district is an old district near the beach which didn't suffer too much from the terrible bombings that flattened the city in 1944 and in which 5,000 people died in the ruins in a few hours. The little church and the square around it evoke a village atmosphere in southern France. During the season, painters gather on the square and give an impression of "Montmartre".
  • Take the funiculaire (cable car) for an easy climb to Le Havre's upper plateau. From the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), it’s a 7-minute walk (600 metres) along avenue René Coty to the lower terminal is located on rue Gustave-Flaubert (corner rue du Docteur-Vigné). A one-way ticket costs €0.40. Once at the top, turn right from the upper terminal (heading east), along rue Félix-Faure, another 7-minute walk (500 metres) brings you to a superbly panoramic view of the beautiful city and its harbour. You can return down the Escalier Olivier-Senn, then stroll through narrow historic streets, zig-zagging back to the city center. Returning to the lower terminal takes about 12 minutes, all downhill.
  • 1 Saint-Joseph church (Église Saint-Joseph), Boulevard François Ier. St Joseph's Church was a key project designed by August Perret in the rebuilding of the city. Its tall tower is lined with coloured glass lending the interior a unique tranquility.
  • 2 Town Hall (Hôtel-de-ville). The town hall is situated on one of the largest squares in France. The interior has information on the city. It is possible to climb the tower for view of the lay out of the city. Showflat, designed by city designer August Perret, is now open for public viewing.
  • 3 Malraux Museum (Musée Malraux or MuMa), 2 boulevard Clemenceau, +33 2 35 19 62 62. M W-F 11:00-18:00, Sa Su 11:00-19:00. This museum houses the largest Impressionist collection in France outside of Paris. €10.
    4 Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Centre (Le Volcan), 8 place Niemeyer. Cultural Centre (the Volcano) designed by leading architect Oscar Niemeyer is located in the centre of town. One of the city's most iconic buildings.
  • 5 Maison de l'Armateur ((opposite the ferries)). Daily except Tu. One of the few old houses which were not destroyed during World War II. A magnificent house of 5 floors, nicely decorated and furnished in the style of its construction (18th century), when it belonged to rich families. A very interesting visit especially if you also visit Auguste Perret's showflat in City Hall Square showing what was life was like in the 1950s. You will understand the complex history of the city. €5.  
  • 6 Natural History Museum (Muséum d'histoire naturelle), Place du Vieux Marché (near the cathedral). Closed on Th morning and M 10:00-18:00. In an old building which miraculously survived the terrible bombings on September 5, 1944. Interesting museum with a lot of activities for children. Free.
  • 7 Cathedrale Notre Dame, +33 2 32 74 04 05. Visit it and walk around it. You'll get a striking contrast between the 15th century cathedral and the buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1960s around it. The foundations of the cathedral are lower than the other buildings because they were built on the ruins of the old town.    

Do edit

  • Climb the tower of Hotel de Ville for an overview of August Perret's planned city.
  • Enjoy the beach in good weather (restaurants, bars, night life).
  • Relax in the glow of the unique St Joseph's Church.
  • Drive over the River Seine on the gorgeous bridge 1 "Pont de Normandie". Then you will be in Honfleur, one of Normandy's prettiest places.
  • Enjoy a walk in the posh residential area of Ste Adresse overlooking the Le Havre bay and enjoy nice views of the bay and the city
  • Visit the port - whether on a boat or by bike: more information in many languages from the tourist office situated along the beach.
  • Rent a bike at the tourist office for a couple of euros and enjoy the seafront and the city centre at its best. You can also ride to Harfleur (eastern suburb) which is a lovely medieval town! Montivilliers, a few miles away is also worth a visit. Nice abbey and town center.
  • After the beach, enjoy a forest in the middle of the city: 2 "forêt de Montgeon".
  • 3 Les jardins suspendus (fort de Sainte Adresse). Lovely walled garden and greenhouse in an old fort overlooking the city and the sea. Nice views! A nice walk on the walls!
  • Football: Le Havre AC were promoted in 2023 and now play soccer in Ligue 1, the French top tier. Their home ground is 4 Stade Océane (capacity 25,000) 5 km east of city centre.

Events edit

  • Every year on the first Sunday after August 15, a traditional parade is organized in the city. Flowered carriages, people in costumes, floral floats, music, etc.
  • Every second year (the first one took place in 2006), Le Havre is home to a Contemporary Art Exhibition in the casino and everywhere in the streets of the city centre.
  • Every year, on the first weekend of September, Le Havre holds a "Fishermen's Festival"
  • In May is "Fest Yves" a traditional festival from Brittany in quartier St François.
  • Every July 14, traditional fireworks on the beach (at 23:00).
  • In 2017, Le Havre celebrates its 500th anniversary. A lot of works of art to discover during all the Summer.

Buy edit

  • Normandy is famous for its cider and its cheese. Go to 1 "Les Halles" (south of the city centre near pedestrian aerea and Volcano), a covered market where you will find a selection of little shops selling excellent products (vegetables, cheese, meat, bakeries, wine, cider, and a small supermarket).
  • You can buy local products in one of the seasonal sheds along the beach and at the tourist office.
  • Chocolates "la tour" (the tower) 2 Chocolaterie Auzou (near Espace Coty - Coty Mall).
  • Fresh fish from the fishermen (fish market) Opposite the ferry, in front of "maison de l'armateur" on "quai de l'ile" (island quay).
  • 3 Docks Vauban, Quai Frissard. 10:00-20:00. Shopping centre inside a 19th-century building - Adidas Originals, Amazon Locker, Brice, Carnet de vol, Eram, Esprit, Footlocker, H&M, Jules, La Grande Récré, La Halle, Levi's, Mango, Marionnaud, Micromania, New Yorker, Plein Ciel, Quiksilver, and Zara.
  • 4 Espace Coty, 22 Rue Casimir Périer. 10:00-20:00.

Eat edit

Quartier St-François offers a great selections of different restaurants (style, nationality and prices). A lot of "crêperies" (French pancakes).

A selection of fine restaurants is to be found everywhere in the city (the casino is one of the best "Le Havre des sens"). More information at the tourist office.

Budget edit

  • 1 Whoopies Diner, 16 Rue Emile Zola.
  • 2 Le Lafayette, 6 Av. René Coty. Brasserie
  • 3 Le Chiquito, 47 Rue Raymond Guénot.
  • 4 Chez Sophie, 51 Rue du Général Faidherbe.
  • 5 Crêperie Maryvonne, 13 Rue Jean de la Fontaine. Savory crêpes.
  • 6 Le Gavroche Le Havre, 9 Pl. Danton. Brasserie
  • 7 Dai Duong, 67 Rue Richelieu. Vietnamese

Mid-range edit

  • 8 La Taverne Paillette, 22 rue Georges Braque, +33 2 35 41 31 50, . 12:00-00:00.
  • 9 La Papillotte, 38 Pl. du Chillou. French cuisine
  • 10 Restaurant La Sirène, 48 Rue Dr Cousture.
  • 11 La Petite Gourmandise, 68 Rue des Drapiers.

Splurge edit

Sweet edit

  • 14 Chocolate Passion (Near the Hotel de Ville). Amazing Chocolate store and tea salon where one can go to drink the best hot chocolate in the world.

Drink edit

  • Quartier St-François is also home to several bars
  • In the city centre, and the beach.

Sleep edit

All sorts of hotels are to be found like in another French big city.

Budget edit

Splurge edit

Cope edit

Consulates edit

  •   Greece, 28 Rue de General de Gaulle, 76310 Sainte-Adresse, +33 235-462-892, fax: +33 235-467-316.

Go next edit

You can reach from Le Havre any part of Normandy in any direction in less than 2 hr, including the famous Mont Saint-Michel.

To the north:

  • Étretat and its exceptional natural site (beautiful white cliffs). (25 km)
  • Fécamp and its "Bénédictine Palace" where the famous liquor is made and also has a nice little town with a long beach and a little port. (40 km)
  • Veules les Roses is a charming village along the shortest river in France. Lovely houses and a nice beach. (65 km)
  • Dieppe is an important fishing port and a lovely seaside resort. (100 km)

To the south:

  • Honfleur is a little 17th century harbour. (25 km)
  • Beuvron en Auge is a lovely picturesque village. (35 km)
  • Lisieux has a cathedral and basilica. (55 km)

To the west:

  • Caen has a World War II memorial (90 km)
  • Bayeux has the medieval tapestry and is near the famous landing beaches (115 km)

To the east:

Routes through Le Havre
  Portsmouth    N   S  END
END  NW   SE  → merges with  RouenParis  

This city travel guide to Le Havre is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.