Le Havre – Introduction

Le Havre from the Sea

Le Havre from the Sea

Le Havre

Le Havre is France’s 2nd largest harbour, Europe’s 5th biggest with a population of some 175,000 people. It is mostly a container ship and oil tankers harbour but you can frequently see passenger cruise ships docked here.

Le Havre was extensively bombed during the Second World War, not by the Germans but by the Allies since the Germans had built part of their military naval forces there. The city was almost totally flattened after one month non-stop bombing.

Le Havre in the winter of 1944-1945

Le Havre in the winter of 1944-1945

Between 1945 and 1964, the French architect Auguste Perret was tasked with rebuilding the city, and together with some 50 other architects, he built a city from the ground up. Perret had as vision a city with a lot of space, intertwined with parks and water. His main avenue, the Avenue Roche, was meant to compete with the Paris Champs Elysee in terms of width.

The apartment blocks he had built are identifiable by the precast concrete blocks, narrow but tall windows and ledges.

Typical Le Havre Perret Flat

Typical Le Havre Perret Flat

United Nations’s UNESCO designated the city as part of the World Heritage Sites in 2005, based mostly on its urban architecture over 133 hectares and buildings made out of precast concrete.

Le Havre as a city is not very touristy .. but it has a special feeling to it. With an international airport, a large port including a daily ferry link to the UK and a railway station linking it to Paris and Marseilles, the city is accessible. Recently Le Havre inaugurated a tram line which crosses the city North to South and West to East.

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