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Le Havre - full of surprises, spectacular sites and stunning seaside strolls

By Poppy Jeffery

If you want to visit a place filled with culture and beautiful buildings, then Le Havre is the destination for you.

Nestled on the coast of Normandy, this city was almost entirely flattened in the Second World War but was lovingly and meticulously reimagined by esteemed Belgian-born architect Auguste Perret in the following years.

His stunning concrete-loving work lends itself perfectly to creating a modern, but not unfamiliar, city which delivers surprises round every corner.

The beautiful war sculpture and water installation.

The beautiful war sculpture and water installation.

By using a modular system of beams spaced 6.24m apart and clean-cut lines, these iconic buildings helped re-home the tens of thousands who were displaced by the war.

This year, France's second largest port is celebrating half a millennium of its town.

Le Havre, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is hosting a plethora of events this summer from art exhibitions to theatre performances - you’re guaranteed to find something you like.

Le Volcan

Le Volcan

Walking through the bustling city streets you get a real feel for the poetic design of the town, which centres on a stunning water feature and the dramatic Le Volcan theatre, built in 1982 by Oscar Niemeyer.

For art enthusiasts, a day spent walking around the MuMa modern art museum is an absolute must.

Until August 20, visitors can enjoy gazing at the almost fantasy work by Pierre and Gilles, who transform photographs into artistic spectacles. 

Looking down the Rue de Paris

Looking down the Rue de Paris

As well as that, Le Havre is often regarded as the birthplace of impressionism, with paintings by Monet, Dufy, Pissarro and Boudin all gracing the walls of the MuMa.

A short walk away stands the stunning Saint Joseph’s Church, head and shoulders over the rest of the town.

Also designed by Perret, this landmark building contains spectacular coloured glass panels, which give the inside a dramatic feel as kaleidoscopic light bounces off the beautiful red wool installation cascading down the centre.

The top of the Saint Joseph church

The top of the Saint Joseph church

Tour guide Sophie Bellest gave a real insight into the work of Perret, talking passionately about his vision before we stepped back in time to the 1950s and into his show flat.

The spacious apartment is decked out as it would have been back then, with stunning furniture and the latest gadgets available to the modern family.

It featured clever tricks such as sliding partition walls to help give the 100 square metre space an airy and light feel.

Inside the show flat

Inside the show flat

If food is more your thing then take a stroll to Le Grignot, a spacious restaurant decked out in proper French bistro style situated only seconds from Le Volcan.

Serving the most exquisite seafood, it offers incredibly rich and sumptuous meals that will leave you fully satisfied, but beware - there is a surprise on your way to the bathroom that’s not for those with vertigo. 

Another brilliant place to eat is Le Lyonnais, offering an incredible selection of the finest meat, cheese and desserts - their Crepes Suzette are to die for.

Le Havre has a stunning beach, if you're prepared to walk for it

Le Havre has a stunning beach, if you're prepared to walk for it

In terms of accommodation, Hotel Oscar offers incredible value for money a stone’s throw away from all the main attractions of the city.

With 50s style rooms, balcony views of Le Havre, brilliantly friendly and helpful owners and a slap-up breakfast to boot - it offers a classy and friendly stay for the eager visitor with rooms starting from 49€. 

Until October, Le Havre is hosting an incredible selection of events, both on sea and on dry land.

The water installation comes on hourly

The water installation comes on hourly

This port town offers a step away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, with stunning views and a relaxed atmosphere only a short ferry away, we travelled in luxury with DFDS, before a drive down the country through spectacular countryside.

Overall, Le Havre offers the perfect escape from the country, with something for everyone.

To find out more, visit Le Havre Tourism and to compare ferry fares, visit aferry.

 

 

 

 

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