UNESCO listed Le Havre has incredible contemporary architecture and a world famous museum of modern art. It’s a vibrant, friendly and fascinating city to visit with a seriously innovative vibe…
Le Havre’s contemporary architecture has UNESCO heritage status in recognition of its exceptional urban design on a monumental scale. The inner city of Le Havre is a masterpiece of modern planning. After the city suffered enormous damage caused during WWII, the project to rebuild required speed to take care of so many homeless inhabitants. The re-design was overseen by architect Auguste Perret. A teacher of France’s famous architect Le Corbusier, he had distinct ideas a love of reinforced concrete, a material which certainly helped speed up the build. There’s nowhere else quite like it in France.
Perret’s show flat: In 1949, Auguste Perret created a show flat to allow local people to see what he was proposing with the rebuilding of Le Havre. His ideas for concrete weren’t always well received but this show flat homage, re-created in 2005, reveals just how visionary he was.
Neimeyer Library: Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s concrete Volcanoes, the name given to the cultural centre in Le Havre, are mesmerising. The recently renovated small volcano is now the public library - as extraordinary inside as it is outside. You’ll feel like you’re inside a spaceship with futuristic style seats in bright colours and a sweeping staircase. There are regular exhibitions and a cool coffee shop. This has to be one of the most remarkable libraries in the world.
Les Bains des Docks: This extraordinary aquatic centre was designed by legendary architect Jean Nouvel. Book a swim in one of its 12 pools and admire the strikingly beautiful white architecture.
Follow in the footsteps of the impressionists at Le Havre, where Claude Monet painted “Impression, Rising Sun” which gave the movement its name. He also found inspiration nearby at Etretat, Rouen and Trouville. Travel just 30 minutes from Le Havre to gorgeous Honfleur and fall in love with the 17th century Vieux Basin, lined with friendly restaurants serving fresh seafood. Around an hour and 30 minutes will bring you to Giverny where you will discover Monet’s enchanting house and garden.
MuMa – Museum of Modern Art: A stunning building with an outstanding collection Impressionist works, one of the largest in France. Enjoy works by Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas, Courbet and Corot. Details: www.muma-lehavre.fr/en
It’s just a short walk from the city centre to Le Havre’s beach, 2km of sand and pebbles, a big draw for the locals as well as for savvy visitors. The beach hosts the biggest free skate park in France (a legend amongst skate boarders) and in the summer there are water sports, fun activities and pop up restaurants. Further round the coast is the beach of Saint-Adresse. Here the resort and old houses are built on the slopes of Cape Hève, the gateway to the Alabaster Coast. It’s a great place to drink in the spectacular sea views, just as Monet loved to do.
Normandy is famous for its food and Le Havre has loads of great restaurants.
Locals love: The Architect restaurant in the newly renovated Southampton Wharf area. Owned by an Australian, it’s perfect for a taste of Aussie cuisine (and wine!) ...
Wine and dine: Restaurant Les Enfants Sages (the wise children) is in a former school masters house, built in 1905. The rooms have been converted into individual dining areas rooms decorated to reflect its previous incarnation. It’s very cool and the food is fabulous…
Authentic: Bistro Au Caid is a listed building and an institution in Le Havre. Opened in 1954 it’s one of the favourite meeting places for the locals and has a lovely terrace bar. The 50s style interior is cosy and charming. Situated next to the Perret show flat building, and overlooking the famous Volcanoes, it’s a great place for a snack or lunch with a fresh, seasonal plat du jour.
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