20 Things To Do In Le Havre

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Le Havre on the northern coast of France is a city of contrasts that intertwines modern and historical architecture, industry and art, and is where the land meets the sea. Le Havre is on the coast of Normandy at the mouth of the River Seine. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases the innovative architecture of Auguste Perret, who rebuilt the city after the devastation of World War II. Almost all of Le Havre was destroyed, leaving the city’s designated architect with a blank canvas to begin rebuilding. Perret’s modernist architecture also includes many Brutalist and Gothic touches, turning many of his new buildings into symbols for the city. Admiring his structures and the redeveloped city on a walking tour is a great way to take in Le Havre’s beauty.

Le Havre is also a major port and a gateway to Paris, with frequent ferry and train connections. Much of the city was designed using reinforced concrete as it was a cheap and quick way to reconstruct, and it offered Perret more creative freedom with the overall shape and design of some buildings such as the Volcano. Take in more of the city’s culture and design by admiring the impressive collection of Impressionist paintings at the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art (MuMa), explore the rare plants and stunning views at the Hanging Gardens, or discover the history of the city’s architect at the Perret Show Flat.

Le Havre is also a great place to enjoy the seaside, with a long pebble beach and a lively marina with a range of family friendly activities on offer. If you are looking for a city break that offers something different, Le Havre is the perfect choice. Here are the best things to do in Le Havre.

Le Havre, France

Things To Do In Le Havre

1- Reflect at St Joseph’s Church

Church Of St. Joseph In Le Havre
Admiring St Joseph’s Church is one of the things to do in Le Havre, France.

For a peaceful and reflective thing to do in Le Havre, visit St Joseph’s Church.

St Joseph’s Church was built as part of the wider city reconstruction following the devastating bombing of Le Havre during World War II.

Auguste Perret, an architect, was tasked with rebuilding the city following the devastation, and St Joseph’s was a welcome addition.

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The church not only serves as a place of worship, but as a memorial site to the 5000 civilians who were killed during the bombings.

The church tower is a key landmark and feature of the city’s skyline, with its modern concrete styling designed to resemble a lantern.

The cathedral is adorned with exquisite works of stained glass by artist Marguerite Huré.

St Joseph’s Church is at 130 Bd François 1er, 76600 Le Havre.

2- See Catena de Containers Vincent GANIVET

Catena de Containers is a unique installation and landmark in Le Havre.

Vincent Ganivet designed the unusual and impressive art installation to add a colourful tough to the city’s port area.

The installation was constructed from shipping containers painted in bright bold colours, and assembled like building blocks.

The structure was installed in 2017 in celebration of the city’s 500th anniversary.

The shipping containers are assembled into two colossal arches and serve as a beautiful and thoughtful welcome to the city from the sea.

Catena de Containers Vincent GANIVET is at Quai de Southampton, 76600 Le Havre.

Recommended tours:

3- Visit Perret Show Flat

Auguste Perret was the architect tasked with the mammoth job of redesigning and rebuilding Le Havre following extensive bombing in World War II.

The rebuilding of the city spanned from 1945 to 1964 and resulted in many beautiful and modern structures being built, transforming the city into a trendy and must-visit destination.

Following Perret’s extensive work, the city was named as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2005.

The Perret Show Flat is a unique part of his work during this time of regeneration,

The show flat was created as a model to show a post-war family home at the Worlds Fair in 1947.

Perret worked in collaboration with designers René Gabriel and Marcel Gascoin to furnish the interior of the flat.

The small 100m2 (1080ft2) flat on display today is an accurate reconstruction of the original and is open to the public to explore its living room, bedrooms, kitchen, library and bathrooms.

Perret Show Flat is at 181 rue de Paris, 76600 Le Havre.

4- Discover Art At MuMa

Immerse yourself in art at MuMa, an impressive art gallery housing many collections from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as more contemporary works of art.

Originally named Le Havre Museum of Fine Art, the museum opened in 1845 and, like much of the city, was destroyed during bombing in 1944.

The devastation of war saw the sculpture collection held by the museum be almost completely lost, with only the paintings removed and stored off site during the war surviving.

George Salles and Reynold Arnould redesigned and rebuilt the museum during the 1950s with a key desire to expand the structure to accommodate film screenings and lectures.

The museum is considered a leader in France for its collection for its collection of Impressionist art dating from the 1850s to 1920s.

The museum has a permanent collection including works from Monet.

One of the museums most popular collections is its Great Masters of the 19th century, featuring works from Millet, Colbert and Gérivault.

MuMa is at 2 Bd Clemenceau, 76600 Le Havre.

5- See A Show At Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Ville

Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Ville lies in the heart of Le Havre’s reconstructed centre and is a key landmark in the city.

The city hall theatre is part of the larger City Hall.

Perret was integral in designing the structure for the theatre which was opened in 1967.

The theatre was designed to be accommodating to all forms of entertainment and art forms including musical performances, circuses and magic acts.

Within the theatre is a newly completed gallery space offering a place for hanging exhibits to be shown, as well as a hosting area for cultural events.

Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Ville is at Place Jacques Tournant, 76600 Le Havre.

6- Explore Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville

Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville is a must-visit destination in Le Havre.

The square is considered to be the centre of the city and is a popular meeting place for locals and a great place to begin your day of exploring the city.

Around the perimeter of the square is the City Hall, theatre and plenty of cafes and restaurants.

Surrounding the square is a small and beautiful garden that adds an additional level of relaxation to this already peaceful square.

Make this square your first stop in exploring the city, admiring the modern buildings and people watching, before grabbing a coffee and heading out to visit some of Le Havre’s most popular attractions.

Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville is a square in Le Havre.

7- See Notre-Dame Cathedral

Panorama Of Le Havre
Le Havre skyline from the water.

Notre-Dame Cathedral is another beautiful religious site in Le Havre that was painstakingly redesigned following the city’s destruction in World War II.

Perret again designed the cathedral in a simple and minimalist style to match the new city aesthetics.

Completed in 1957, the cathedral has stained glass windows designed by Marguerite Huré who also worked on St Joseph’s Church.

Inside, in contrast to the simplicity of the cathedrals exterior, are many exquisite sculptures, mosaics and murals.

Note-Dame Cathedral is at Rue de Paris, 76600 Le Havre.

8- Wander Around The Marina

Sunset View Of The Marina, Le Havre
Wandering around the marina is one of the things to do in Le Havre cruise port.

One of the best things to do in Le Havre is to spend some time exploring the marina, which hosts many international sailing events and races throughout the year.

Along the waters edge are two kilometres (1.24 miles) of shingle beach backed with a promenade.

The marina also has a cycling lane offering a picturesque track to explore this area of the city with a wide range of activities for visitors including cycling, fishing and rowing.

The marina is also home to Le Havre’s impressive skate park and a wide variety of restaurants serving fresh fish dishes and other varieties of traditional French cuisine.

Le Havre Marina is at 125 Bd Clemenceau, 76600 Le Havre.

9- Discover The Hanging Gardens

Le Havre’s Hanging Gardens is a must-visit destination and great thing to do in the city.

The gardens are set inside the ruins of a 19th century fort.

From the gardens are beautiful panoramic views out across the English Channel and the Seine estuary.

The gardens have a large number of plants from various destinations from across the world.

These plants were incorporated into the garden as a way to pay tribute to the explorers who departed from the nearby ports in the 15th century who brought back various plant species from their travels.

The landscape of the gardens seamlessly incorporates elements of the old fort, ensuring it is preserved.

One of the most popular areas of the gardens are the greenhouses which house tropical plants, orchids and fragrant plants.

Hanging Gardens is at 125 Bd Clemenceau, 76600 Le Havre.

10- Shop And Eat At Halles Centrales Market

Halles Céntrales Market is an excellent indoor market place that is open to the public on a daily basis, with its outdoor market running each Sunday.

The market is frequented by locals and offers visitors a great opportunity to not only purchases fresh food but to get to know the city and its culture.

The market is filled with vibrant colours, fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods and meats.

The market also has many stalls selling fresh and ready to eat traditional dishes from Normandy.

Halles Centrales Market is at Pl. des Halles Centrales, 76600 Le Havre.

11- Step Back In Time At The Natural History Museum

After spending time uncovering more about Le Havre’s history, step back in time and uncover its natural history.

Visiting the Natural History Museum is a great thing to do in Le Havre for families and those interested in nature.

The museum is in the heart of the city and is filled with interactive displays, exciting exhibits and natural specimens.

The museum is housed inside the former Palace of Justice and has varying collections covering zoology, palaeontology and prehistory.

It also has a collection dedicated to 19th century painter and naturalist Lesueur.

Natural History Museum is at Pl. du Vieux Marché, 76600 Le Havre.

12- Visit Satie House And Museum

A short drive outside Le Havre is the Satie House and Museum, which pays tribute to French composer and musician Erik Satie.

The house where Satie was born in 1866 has been transformed into a must-visit tourist destination for lovers of both music and history.

Inside the house is a musical trail documenting Satie’s musical career.

The house has been designed to reflect the time when Satie lived there to fully immerse visitors in his life and his work.

Satie was also known for his drawings which can also be found throughout the home.

Satie House and Museum is at 67 Bd Charles V, 14600 Honfleur.

13- Follow The Impressionist Trail

For a unique and arty way to experience Le Havre seek out the impressionist trail.

For many impressionist artists, Normandy called to them with its beautiful landscape and breathtaking coastlines.

Monet, perhaps the most famous impressionist, spent his childhood in the city and painted many pieces of his work there.

His most famous painting ‘Impression, Rising Sun’ documents his view of of the sun rising over the city’s port area.

There are six panels across the city to find as you head out on your impressionist trail, starting from Sainte-Adresse beach and ending at Honfleur.

The impressionist trail runs throughout the city, and is best accessed through an interactive map.

14- Admire Le Volcan

Le Volcan is perhaps Le Havre’s most famous landmark.

Oscar Niemeyer, a Brazilian architect, designed this unique architectural structure that opened in 1982.

The structure is designed to look like a volcano while housing a large concert hall, multimedia library and cafe.

Le Volcan hosts many independent performances, from musical acts to theatrical pieces, as well as being a popular destination for meetings and conferences.

Le Volcan is at 8 place Oscar Niemeyer, 76600 Le Havre.

15- Spend A Day At The Beach

End Of Season On The Beach, Le Havre, France
Spending time on the beach is one of the popular things to do in Le Havre.

Le Havre is perfectly placed for picturesque and relaxed beaches due to its Normandy coast location.

One of the best beaches in the area, and the most easily accessible from the city is Le Havre beach.

Alexandre Chemetoff, a landscape architect, designed the promenade that runs along the beachfront in 1994.

During the summer months many locals head to the beach for some sunshine, while others head out onto the water in canoes or on paddle boards.

Le Havre beach is also home to a freshwater outdoor swimming pool at Club Nautique Havrais.

A short walk from the beach is the largest outdoor skatepark in France, and there are plenty more opportunities to get active here with cycle trails.

After enjoying your day at the beach visit one of Le Havre beaches many restaurants serving up locally caught muscles cooked in a traditional manner, or enjoy an ice cream and a stroll.

Le Havre Beach is at Plage du Havre, 13-16 Bd Albert 1er, 76600 Le Havre.

16- Discover History At Maison de l’Armateur

Maison de l’Armateur is another excellent and must-visit museum in Le Havre.

The museum is set inside a mansion that served as the home of many of the areas ship owners.

Martin Pierre Fouche, who lived in the city during his lifetime, is the mansions most famous resident and much of the home is filled with portraits of his family and many archival pieces including personal items.

The house centres around a large central light-well creating a pleasing ambiance throughout.

The museum regularly hosts historical talks, tours and family friendly activities.

Maison de l’Armateur is at 3 Quai de l’Île, 76600 Le Havre.

17- Dine At A Michelin Star Restaurant (Jean-Luc Tartarin)

For a truly luxurious gastronomic experience book a table to dine at Jean-Luc Tartarin, a Michelin Starred restaurant in Le Havre.

Named after its head chef Tartarin, the restaurant sources exceptional local produce that serves as a source of inspiration for unique and tasty dishes to be created.

Many of the dishes contain freshly caught fish that Tartarin sources through a network of local fishermen, allowing him to get the freshest and best fish in the city.

The menu offered changes seasonally, and can change more frequently depending on ingredient availability.

Try the tasting menu to experience pure gastronomic delight as you indulge in a variety of dishes assembled with care and artistic precision.

Jean-Luc Tartarin is at 73 Av. Foch, 76600 Le Havre.

18- Largest Skatepark In France

Skateboarding, Skateboards And Skatepark
Getting an adrenalin rush at the largest skate park in France is one of the fun things to do in Le Havre, France, for skateboarders.

Skateboarders should make Le Havre’s skatepark, the largest in France, top of their list of things to do in the city.

This free skatepark is 800m2 (8611ft2) of skate ramps, bowls and more.

The skate park is frequented by professionals and amateurs alike, with skateboards, BMX’s and roller skates welcome.

The skate park’s beachside location is also perfect as it adds to the relaxed and laidback atmosphere the park offers.

Skatepark Le Havre is at 27 Bd Albert 1er, 76600 Le Havre.

19- Relax At Les Bains des Docks

One of the best things to do in Le Havre is spending time in the water at Les Bains des Docks.

Jean Nouvel, a French architect, designed the modern and minimalist pool complex to reflect both the port of the city and natural rock pools found along the Normandy coastline.

The baths are fully open to the public and include a heated Olympic size outdoor pool, leisure pool and a well-equipped spa.

Les Baines des Docks is at Quai de la Réunion, 76600 Le Havre.

20- Tour Stade Oceane

A visit to Stade Oceane is one of the best things to do in Le Havre for football fans.

Le Havre is home to Le Havre AC, a team in France’s Ligue 1.

If you time your visit well, you may be able to catch the team playing a home game, however the stadium is open for tours on non-game days.

The stadium is the largest in Normandy and seats 25,000 fans.

Stade Oceane is also an environmentally friendly stadium as it generates more energy than it uses, creating a positive carbon footprint.

State Oceane is at Bd de Leningrad, 76600 Le Havre.

Map
You’ll find plenty of things to do in Le Havre, France.

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Sarah Holmes
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.