One Way to do Le Havre

The French port of Le Havre is becoming an increasingly popular port of call for cruise ships, particularly on the shorter cruises from the United Kingdom.

While recognised as the easiest gateway to Paris, Honfleur and the D-Day Beaches those destinations may not always be attractive to cruise ship passengers.

Le Havre itself has only a limited amount to offer the visitor,  certainly improving during the summer months….

 

Cruise ships berth at the Le Havre  Cruise Terminal and this is the view one can expect from onboard…

Shuttle buses are available from the terminal into the town and a HoHo type tourist train also runs from the terminal…

On the occasion of my visit I decided to make the most of the fine weather and walk the 25 minutes into town.

I was pleased I did because en route I came across Maison de L’Armateur…

*****

Maison de L’Armateur, or  The Ship Owners House Museum, is open to the public…

This late 18C house, built for his personal use by the city’s architect and hydrant officer, a Mr Thibault, was later bought by a ship-owner in the early 19C and miraculously it survived the bombing of 1944.

Its five circular storeys, each entirely decorated in wood carvings, are laid around an octagonal central well of light. The period taste in decoration is illustrated by the recreated interior of stables, bedrooms, trading office, curiosity cabinets and observation room…

A short distance from the Ship Owner’s house is the Saint Francois Quarter.

The Saint-Francois Quarter is an historical area dating back to 1541  with old Breton architecture and tiny winding streets. This area was severely bombed in the war and many of the historical buildings were preserved in the rebuilding,  much of which was rebuilt by local architects after the war.  One of the area’s  highlights is the fish market…

*****

A short distance along the outer basin is a board illustrating  the spot where the French painter Camille Passarro placed his easel when he painted his inspirational ‘Outer Harbour’ work…

A short distance from the illustration is Le Havre’s Notre Dame Cathedral…

…and it’s well worth popping in to check out its architecture…

 

 

The Cathedral fronts on to the Rue de Paris and, 2 blocks on the right, can be found the Natural History Museum

…while continuing along  this road another 3 blocks is the…

…whose centre piece is the ”Monument aux Morts’…

Part of the city’s heritage since 1924, it remembers the names of over  6000 Le Havre inhabitants who died in combat between 1914 and 1918, all of whom  are engraved on this stone. Post WWII further names have been added to this very impressive memorial…

 

The memorial also stands at the head of the ‘Basin de Commerce’ and once more a famous French painter is celebrated with an illustrated notice…

…this one to Eugène Louis Boudin who was one of the first 19th Century  marine and landscape painters.

On the opposite side of the monument is Le Volcan or, translated, The Volcano…

Just two blocks from ‘Le Volcan’ can be found the ‘Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville du Havre’…

This is a well laid out garden area with, on the far side of the road, the Town Hall and its 18-storey tower, while on the near side are fountains, gardens and a number of monuments.

One monument is to The Resistance Deportation – Souviens Toi...

 

 

Following the  D-Day Normandy landings on 6 June 1944 the city of Le Havre was bombed incessantly between 5 and 12 September and  the city was almost completely destroyed. It pays tribute to the Resistants of the Second World War as well as the deportees (at least 740 of whom were transported to Auschwitz).

Continuing along the right hand side of the Town Hall (Mairie), along the Avenue Rene Coty...

…the left hand side of which is home to a typical French Market…

*****

…and the fish stall appearing to stock a good supply of the British kipper…

The opposite side of Avenue Rene Coty is home to the old Banque de France

Continuing to follow the dog-leg route on the above map will bring you to Le Havre’s Funicular Railway…

That’s it ahead.

And here is the entrance a little closer…

The Funiculaire du Havre  is part of the city’s public transport network. It runs between the Rue Gustave Flaubert and the Côte Sainte-Marie  and includes a tunnel, a loop and a 41% incline.

The line was built and opened in 1890  and was originally operated with steam coaches. In 1911 however  it was recabled and electrified…

*****

On reaching the top there is a choice of direction…

A short distance to the right is a point from which good panoramic views across Le Havre are available…

Spot the Celebrity Eclipse centre left?

Also make a note of that tall tower centre right, it’s on the itinerary later.

Further along the Rue Felix Faure is the Fort de Tourneville...

…a defensive fortification  built in 1854 as part of a group of French fortresses it was later utilised as  barracks for infantry regiments until 1976…

Nowadays the buildings are used as various municipal offices and the site is of little interest to other than military historians and enthusiasts.

Returning to the upper funicular station and then continuing along the Rue Felix Faure is an interesting walk of around 20 minutes, past some distinguished period homes, that will eventually reach the ‘Plage’…

*****

…and once across the road a pleasant boardwalk with many restaurants…

and interesting rows of beach huts await…

On my visit I chose to take that typically French lunch delight, Moules Frittes…

For those who may find the walk to the ‘Plage’ a little too much there is of course a regular tram system running between the Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville and the beach area…

*****

On the day of my visit I had other ideas. I wanted to visit the Eglise Saint-Joseph…

This is the church and tower I previously mentioned when overlooking Le Havre earlier.

Built between 1951 and 1957/58 as part of the reconstruction of the town of Le Havre, which was entirely destroyed by the British during WWII, it also acts as a memorial to the five thousand civilians who died in the conflict.

Designed by the chief architect for the reconstruction of Le Havre, Auguste Perret, it has a spectacular if sombre interior…

The tower is 107 metres tall and acts as a beacon visible from out at sea, especially at night when illuminated…

That completes this review of what I found to do on a cruise ship visit to Le Havre. At the risk of repeating myself Le Havre generally has more to offer when acting as a gateway to areas outside the town but for those who haven’t experienced it there is enough to see and do if one so wishes.

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3 responses to “One Way to do Le Havre

  1. Thank you for this great review. We’ll be in Le Havre next month and I was wondering what to do in this town. We’ll be following in your footsteps.

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