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Coordinates: 49°29′24″N 0°06′00″E / 49.49000°N 0.100000°E / 49.49000; 0.100000

Le Havre
Le Havre is located in France
Le Havre
Time zone CET (UTC +1)
Country France
Region Upper Normandy
Department Seine-Maritime
Arrondissement Rouen
Intercommunality CODAH
Mayor Antoine Rufenacht (UMP)
(2008 - 2014)
Land area1 46.95 km2 (18.13 sq mi)
Population2 179,751  (2007)
 - Ranking 12th in France
 - Density 3,829 /km2 (9,920 /sq mi)
Urban spread
Urban area 182.45 km2 (70.44 sq mi) (2006)
 - Population 246,195 (2006)
Metro area 615.39 km2 (237.60 sq mi) (2006)
 - Population 291,765 (2006)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
State Party  France
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 1181
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2005  (29th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total population of the greater Le Havre conurbation is smaller than that of Rouen's. It is also the second largest subprefecture in France (after Reims). Its port is the second busiest in France (after that of Marseille). Since 1974 it has been the see of the diocese of Le Havre.

Le Havre was originally named Franciscopolis after King Francis I, who founded the city in 1517. A chapel known as Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ("Our Lady of Grace") existed at the site before the city was established, and the denomination lent its name to the port, to be called Le Havre (or Le Hable) de Grâce ("the harbor of grace"). The shortened name Le Havre, as used in modern times, simply translates as "the port" or "the harbor".

While under German occupation, the city was devastated in 1944 during the Battle of Normandy in World War II; 5,000 people were killed and 12,000 homes destroyed, mainly by Allied air attacks. After the war, the center was rebuilt in the modernist style by Auguste Perret. Le Havre was honored with the Legion of Honor award on 18 July 1949. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Le Havre was once synonymous with urban gloom and greyness. The city's inhabitants have done much to change this; as a result of substantial improvements, Le Havre is now spoken of as the Brasilia of France.[citation needed].

Le Havre's home port code is LH.



Le Havre is the second largest subprefecture in France, and the administrative center of the district bordering the Sainte-Adresse commune.



Le Havre is situated in the southwest of the Pays de Caux region. The city is bordered by the seashore of the English Channel to the west, the mouth of the Seine to the south, and the coast to the north. Historically, the Seine marked a natural boundary between Haute-Normandie and Basse-Normandie; the city of Honfleur has often been referred to by the Havrais as being "on the other coast." As a port city on an exposed marshy coast, Le Havre has long suffered from poor land links. New road connections have been built since; among the most notable is the Pont de Normandie, which connects the two banks of the Seine and reduces traveling time between Honfleur and Le Havre to less than 15 minutes.


Le Havre is naturally separated into two areas by a cliff.

  • The ville basse, or lower city, comprises the port, the city center, and the peripheral regions. It was constructed on the ancient marshlands which were drained in the 16th century. The soil is composed of alluvium deposited by the river Seine. The city center, reconstructed after World War II, stands on approximately a meter (3.3 ft) of flattened rubble.
  • The ville haute, or upper city, is composed of wealthy residential suburbs (Mont-Gaillard, Caucriauville, and Mare-Rouge). The north-west region of the upper city (Sainte-Adresse and Dollemard) is the highest in altitude (between 90 and 115 meters.)

A road tunnel and funicular railway ease transport between the lower and upper cities.


Month[1] Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °C (°F)[1] 6
Avg low temperature °C (°F)[1] 3


The population of the Le Havre commune had 190,905 inhabitants in 1999, which makes it the 12th most populous city in France and the most populous in Haute-Normandie (although the total population of the greater Le Havre conurbation is smaller than that of Rouen's). It has seen a drop in population, particularly from 1975 to 1982; during these years of industrial crisis the population fell by 18,494. During the 1980s the population continued to decrease, though less rapidly. Le Havre's city limit had a population of 248,547 in 1999 (25th in France) and the urban area had a population of 296,773. With 20% of the population less than 20 years old, the city of Le Havre is relatively young, even though the population is shrinking. The foreign-born population is estimated at 8,208, 4.3% of the population, also with a tendency to diminish. Due to the economic changes that had affected the city, the CSP greatly evolved in the 1980s; between 1982 and 1999, the number of blue-collar workers decreased by a third (10,593). At the same time, the number of office workers and professionals increased by 24.5%, which partly explains the creation and development of the University of Le Havre.


View of the beach of Le Havre and a part of the rebuilt city

The name Le Havre simply means the harbour or the port. Le Havre was founded as a new port by royal command, partly to replace the historic harbors of Harfleur and Honfleur which had become increasingly impractical due to silting-up. The city was founded in 1517, when it was named Franciscopolis after Francis I of France, and subsequently named Le Havre-de-Grâce ("Harbor of Grace") after an existing chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ("our Lady of grace").

In the 18th century, Le Havre began to grow, as trade from the West Indies was added to that of France and Europe. In 1759 the city was the staging point for a planned French invasion of Britain - thousands of troops, horses and ships being assembled there - only for many of the barges to be destroyed in the Raid on Le Havre and the invasion to be abandoned following the naval defeat at Quiberon.

On 19 November 1793, the city changed its name to Hâvre de Marat and later Hâvre-Marat in honor of the recently deceased Jean-Paul Marat, who was seen as a martyr of the French Revolution. By early 1795, however, Marat's memory had become somewhat tarnished, and on January 13, 1795, the town's name became simply Le Havre.

During the 19th century, it became an industrial centre.

The German-occupied city was devastated during the Battle of Normandy in World War II: 5,000 people were killed and 12,000 homes were totally destroyed, mainly by Allied air attacks. Despite this, Le Havre became the location of one of the biggest Replacement Depots, or "Repple Depples" in the European Theatre of operations in WWII. Thousands of American replacement troops poured through the city before being deployed to combat operations.[2] After the war, the centre was rebuilt in modernist style by Auguste Perret. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. UNESCO declared the city center of Le Havre a World Heritage Site on 15 July 2005, in honoring the "innovative utilization of concrete's potential." The 133-hectare space that represents, according to UNESCO, "an exceptional example of architecture and town planning of the post-war era," is one of the rare contemporary World Heritage Sites in Europe.


Arms of Le Havre

The arms of Le Havre are blazoned :
Gules, a salamandre argent crowned and on flames Or, on a chief azure, 3 fleurs de lys Or, and on a franc-canton sable a lion Or armed and langued gules

Arms of Le Havre under the 1st Empire.

The Arms of Le Havre under the 1st Empire.

Main sights

An old house in Le Havre.
Musée des Beaux-Arts André Malraux, Le Havre.
Downtown Le Havre.
The Abbey of Graville, Le Havre
Le Havre/Seine/Honfleur.

Le Havre was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Many historic buildings were lost as a result.


  • Le Havre Cathedral : the first stone of the building was laid in 1536. It is the seat of the Bishop of Le Havre.
  • Church of St. Joseph, one of the most recognized symbols of the city. The belltower is one of the tallest in France, rising to a height of 106 metres. It was designed by Auguste Perret.
  • Church of St. Michel
  • Church of St. Vincent [Eglise St. Vincent:[1]
  • Church of St. François [Eglise St. François:[2]
  • Church of St. Anne [Eglise St. Anne:[3]
  • Church of St. Marie
  • St. Michel d'Ingouville chapel (15th century) [St. Michel Chapel:[4]
  • Graville Abbey, a monastery dedicated to Sainte Honorine, set in grounds on the northern bank of the Seine River.
  • Presbyterian Reform Church (Eglise Réformée), 47 rue Anatole France, built in 1857, bombed in 1941, the roof and ceiling was rebuilt in 1953 by two architects of the famous Auguste Perret office: Jacques Lamy and Gérard Dupasquier, Only one building in the town offering both: ancient and new Perret school architectures in the same building. Holy Office each Sunday morning at 10.30.



  • The Shipowner home (18th century)
  • The former tribunal (18th century)
  • The town Hall : the modern belfry contains offices
  • The "Volcan", cultural center built by Oscar Niemeyer
  • Square St. Roch
  • Japanese Garden


Le Havre has well developed national road, rail and air links (Octeville airport) and is two hours by train from Paris, with services running to the Gare du Havre. Local transport is based primarily on an extensive bus network. The city has plans for a tram network. A ferry service to Portsmouth in the United Kingdom runs from the Terminal de la Citadelle. The service is operated by LD Lines.


The town is home to the Le Havre AC football team, who as of 2009-10 play in Ligue 2, the 2nd tier of French football.

Twin towns

Le Havre is twinned, or has a sister city relationship with:[3]


Le Havre was the birthplace of:




  1. ^ a b c "Weatherbase". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  2. ^ Ambrose, Stephen. Citizen Soldiers, p 274-277.
  3. ^ "Le Havre Website - Twin Towns". Flag of the United Kingdom.svg (in English) © 2006-2008 Ovidio Limited.. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  4. ^ "Saint Petersburg in figures - International and Interregional Ties". Saint Petersburg City Government. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Hotel de Ville decorated to celebrate its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List
Hotel de Ville decorated to celebrate its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Le Havre is a port city at the mouth of the Seine, on the English Channel or in French "la manche".

Le Havre is French for "the harbour". Historically, Le Havre has always been the harbour for Paris, with goods transferring there between 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

  • Trains run to/from Paris regularly, taking about 2 hours: most stop at Rouen en route. TGV to/from Marseille once a day.
  • Airport, Le Havre has a small airport with services running to Lyon, Amsterdam and Brighton. You can make many connections for European destinations in Lyon and more than 200 all over the world via Amsterdam

Get around

The centre of town is eaily 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.

St Joseph's Church
St Joseph's Church
  • 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.
  • Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) is situated on one of the largest squares in France. The interoir 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.
  • 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 centre of 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 showflat in City Hall Square showing what was life was like in the 50's ... 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 5th, 1944. Interesting museum (free!) a lot of activities for children!
  • Near it, 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 50's and 60's 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. 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. Every month, during the season, some painters gather on the square and give an impression of "Montmartre".
  • Every year on the first Sunday after August 15th 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 14th, traditional fireworks on the beach (at 11pm).
  • 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, night life)
  • 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 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 "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! (Opening summer 2008)
  • Normandy is famous for its cider and its cheese. Go to "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) 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)
  • 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
  • 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.  edit
  • Quartier St-François is also home to several bars
  • In the city centre ... and the beach.


Cheap and nice B&B under brown beams. Phone: (00 33) (0)2 76 89 31 65 leave message and number if no answer.

All sorts of hotels are to be found like in an other French big city. The cheapest are outside the city - Formule 1 in Gonfreville l'orcher - B&B hotel in Harfleur - Etap Hotel in Le Havre (quartier de l'Eure)

3 or 4 stars hotels - The Casino (4 stars with nice spa) - Vent d'Ouest (opposite St Joseph's church) - Les voiles (near Ste Adresse - the beach) - Novotel (the station) - Mercure (between the station and the city center overlooking "bassin du commerce") - Art Hotel (opposite the Volcano in the pedestrian area)

Many other affordable hotels around the station

Get out

Ideally situated in Normandy, you can reach from Le Havre any part of the region in any direction in less than two hours including the famous Mont Saint-Michel


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


  • The little 17th century harbor of Honfleur (25 km south)
  • Beuvron en Auge lovely picturesque village(35km)
  • Lisieux: cathedral and basilica (55km to the south)
  • Caen and its WWII memorial (90km to the West)
  • Bayeux and its medieval tapestry (115km to the West) Near it ... the famous landing beaches.


  • Harfleur and Montivilliers (eastern suburb of Le Havre)
  • Marais Vernier (village of thatched cottages) a few km south of "Tancarville bridge"
  • Pont Audemer 50km Nice little town with canals
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun

Le Havre

  1. A city on the north coast of Normandy, France

Derived terms

Usage notes

Since "Le Havre" begins with "Le", a definite article, it follows the same rules as the lowercase "le", i.e. if you were to say "I am from Le Havre", it would be "Je viens du Havre", du being a contraction of de and le; or if you were to say "I am going to go to Le Havre", similarly it would be "Je vais aller au Havre". The same rule applies for other towns, for example Le Mans. Curiously, The "de + le = du" and "à + le = au" rules don't apply to surnames, so you say "La politique de Le Pen" as opposed to "La politique du Pen".

Simple English

Le Havre is a city in the north west of France (Normandy). It is one of the most important port of France. It has about 200,000 inhabitants.


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