Le Havre, France | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
Average: 8 (1 vote)


Le Havre, France

Le Havre is a port city at the mouth of the


, on the English Channel (French: Manche) in the region of Upper Normandy in France.

Le Havre is French for "the harbor". Historically, Le Havre has always been the harbor for Paris, with goods transferring therebetween ocean-going vessels and barges which go to Paris via the Seine.

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

Le Havre, France

Le Havre is a port city at the mouth of the


, on the English Channel (French: Manche) in the region of Upper Normandy in France.

Le Havre is French for "the harbor". Historically, Le Havre has always been the harbor for Paris, with goods transferring therebetween ocean-going vessels and barges which go to Paris via the Seine.

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

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Le Havre, France: Port Information

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 the east side of rue de Paris, just before rue Victor Hugo. From this point, you can easily move about the downtown core.

Get around Le Havre, France

The center 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 center 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.

The Lower City
Largely destroyed during the Second World War, the city was rebuilt according to the plans of the architect Auguste Perretbetween in 1945 and 1964. Only the town hall and the Church of Saint Joseph (107m high) were personally designed by Auguste Perret. In commending the reconstruction work UNESCO listed the city of Le Havre on 15 July 2005 as a World Heritage Site. This area of 133 hectares is one of the few inscribed contemporary sites in Europe. The architecture of the area is characterized by the use of precast concrete using a system of a modular frame of 6.24 meters and straight lines.

Another notable architectural work of the central city is that of the House of Culture built in 1982 by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and nicknamed "the Volcano" because of the shape of the building. In 2012, this place was being refurbished both inside and outside with fairly significant changes approved by the architect including greater openness to the outside of the plaza.

The Notre Dame and Perrey neighborhoods are mainly residential. Les Halles is one of the commercial hubs of the city. The Saint Francis neighborhood was also rebuilt after 1945 but in a radically different architectural style: the buildings are brick and have pitched slate roofs. This is the restaurant district and the fish market.

Neighborhoods in the old center of town
To the east and north of the rebuilt central city is a stretch of old neighborhoods (Danton, Saint-Vincent, Graville, Massillon, etc.) which were spared the bombings of World War II. The buildings, usually in brick, dated to the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. The shops are concentrated along several major roads in the Rond-Point neighborhood. During the 1990s and 2000s, these neighborhoods have seen major redevelopments, particularly in the context of an OPAH: improvement of habitat by rehabilitation or reconstruction, the creation of public facilities, and revitalization of business.

At the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century, the area around the railway station has undergone a major transformation. As the station is the gateway to the city with the main avenues intersecting here. New buildings have sprung up (the University of Le Havre, the conservatory, headquarters of the SPB (Provident Society Bank), and of CMA CGM, Novotel, Matmut, new CCI) some of which were designed by renowned architects. The bus station certified NF since 2005 has been refurbished. North of the station, another construction project in place of the dilapidated island of Turgot-Magellan opened in 2013, including 12,500 m2 (135,000 sq ft) of office space and an eight-story hotel, complete with shops on the ground floor.

The southern districts
The southern districts of Le Havre are mainly used for industrial and port activities. There are buildings in brick from the 19th century, large developments (Chicago, Les Neiges), worker estates, SMEs, warehouses, dock and port facilities, and transport infrastructure.

The southern districts have for some years experienced profound change due to European funding. It is revitalizing areas neglected by industrial and port activities by developing tertiary activities. Thus, the docks have been completely transformed into sports and entertainment complexes (Dock Océane), a mall (Docks Vauban), and an exhibition hall (Docks Café). Les Bains Des Docks was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. At the end of 2012 students from Sciences-Po Europe Asia and from INSA integrated new buildings next to the ISEL (Higher Institute of logistics studies) and the future ENSM (Ecole Nationale Supérieure Maritime). The new medical axis around the new Clinic des Ormeaux was built in the neighborhoods where many homes are planned with the aim of promoting social mix. The City of the Sea and of Sustainable Development (Odyssey 21) will be organized around a metal tower one hundred meters high designed by Jean Nouvel: the project was suspended in 2007 but the work began in 2013. The municipality has to attract some 300,000 visitors per year.

The Upper Town
The upper town is composed of three parts: the "coast", the suburban districts of the plateau, and large peripheral housing estates.
The neighborhoods on the "coast" (the Dead Cliff) are residential – more prosperous in the western part (Les Ormeaux, Rue Felix Faure) and more modest to the east (St. Cecilia, Aplemont). The Jenner tunnel passes under the "coast" and connects the upper town to the lower town. It is also on the coast that there are two fortifications of the city, Forts Sainte-Adresse and Tourneville, and the main cemetery (Sainte-Marie cemetery). With the demise of the military functions of the city, the forts are gradually being converted: Fort Sainte-Adresse houses the Hanging Gardens and Fort Tourneville hosted the Tetris project in 2013 – an axis of contemporary music with concert halls and rehearsal studios.

To the north of the "coast" suburban districts such as Rouelles, Sainte-Cecile, la Mare au Clerc, Sanvic, Bleville, and Dollemard were developed during the first half of the 19th century. In their extension North-west between Bleville and Octeville airport, a new area is being developed: "Les Hauts de Bleville". This eco-district made up of housing units to HQE standards, a Joint Development Area (ZAC), and a school should have a total of 1,000 housing units.

The peripheral suburbs of the commune grew in the postwar period. These are large housing estates in Caucriauville, Bois de Bleville, Mont-Gaillard, and Mare-rouge where a disadvantaged population is concentrated. In October 2004, the National Agency for Urban Renewal (ANRU) signed with the municipality of Havre the first agreement to finance the rehabilitation of these areas. This finance agreement provides more than 340 million euros for the housing estates in the northern districts, where about 41,000 people reside. This development extends the budget for the Grand Projet de Ville (GPV). It allowed the demolition and rebuilding of more than 1,700 homes.

What to see in Le Havre, France

  • St Joseph's Church was a key project designed by August Perret in the rebuilding of the city. Its tall tower is lined with colored glass lending the interior a unique tranquility.

  • Hotel de Ville (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 a view of the layout of the city.
  • Showflat, designed by city designer August Perret, is now open for public viewing.
  • Malraux Museum houses the largest Impressionist collection in France outside of Paris.
  • Cultural Centre (the Volcano) designed by leading architect Oscar Neimeyer is located in the center of the town.
  • Maison de l'Armateur (opposite the ferries). 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 show flat in City Hall Square showing what was life was like in the '50s. You will understand the complex history of the city.
  • Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in an old building which miraculously survived the terrible bombings on September 5, 1944. Interesting museum (free) a lot of activities for children.
  • Nearby,

    Cathedrale Notre Dame

    . Visit it and walk around it. You'll get a striking contrast between the 15th-century cathedral and the buildings constructed in the '50s and '60s around it. The foundations of the cathedral are lower than the other buildings because they were built on the ruins of the old town.
  • 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".
  • 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 center.
  • 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 11 pm).
  • 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 meters) 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 meters) brings you to a superbly panoramic view of the beautiful city and its harbor. 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.

What to do in Le Havre, France

  • Climb the tower of Hotel de Ville for an overview of August Perret's planned city. Beautiful!
  • Enjoy the beach in good weather (restaurants, bars, nightlife)
  • Relax in the glow of the unique St Joseph's Church
  • Drive over the River Seine on the gorgeous bridge "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 center 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 "forêt de Montgeon"
  • 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!

What to eat and drink in Le Havre, France


  • Quartier St-François offers a great selection 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
  • Big typical market every Thursday morning in Montivilliers and in Harfleur every Sunday morning
  • 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.


  • Quartier St-François is also home to several bars in the city center and the beach.

Shopping in Le Havre, France

  • Normandy is famous for its cider and its cheese. Go to "Les Halles" (south of the city centre near pedestrian area 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) 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)

Safety in Le Havre, France

Weather in Normandy can be unpredictable but is often very nice. One of the best seasons to visit Normandy is September.

Use your common sense like in any other place on our planet.

Language spoken in Le Havre, France

French is the official language. English is widely spoken.


10:38 am
January 18, 2022


6.44 °C / 43.592 °F
broken clouds

8.71 °C/48 °F
light rain

5.45 °C/42 °F
scattered clouds

5.02 °C/41 °F
scattered clouds

6.75 °C/44 °F
sky is clear



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