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La Porte Océane

The port city of Le Havre in northern France is known as La Porte Océane. It is not only France's largest export port but also the port of call for ocean liners making the transatlantic crossing. In fact, if you look at "Google Maps" and follow directions for reaching Europe from the USA, as you leave Boston you will be directed to "swim across the Atlantic and come ashore in Le Havre"!

Le Havre's Modernist architecture

Le Havre is more than a port, however, and has a reputation as being a shining example of Modernist architecture. The city centre was rebuilt after heavy bombing devastated it during the Second World War, by a renowned Modernist named Auguste Perret.

Life, art and culture

Although Le Havre lost many of its historic buildings in the war, there is still plenty of history to be found here. You can visit the beautifully preserved 18th century Shipowners Home, or take a look at St Michel's chapel, a 15th century chapel, or Graville Abbey, a monastery which is set on the right bank of the Seine. The history of Le Havre is also well documented in a number of very good museums, and for art lovers there is a truly fantastic collection of Impressionist works (including many by local painter Claude Monet) at the Musée des Beaux Arts. For the Modernists, the Church of Saint Joseph rises above the city skyline and is simply stunning in its cutting edge design and imposing bell tower which is some 350 feet (106 metres) high!

About town

Le Havre offers a great big city ambience and choice of a million and one things to do. High on anybody's list in France has to be finding a good restaurant and enjoying some excellent food and wine, and for this Le Havre comes up trumps again and again. A good place to start, for restaurants with atmosphere and character as well as fine food, is the docklands area. Like many city docklands in the UK, this has been regenerated and "prettied up" into a very attractive place to be, and there are a number of restaurants to choose from in this part of Le Havre.

Hypermarkets... shop, shop, shop!

As a port town, Le Havre is well supplied with the usual hypermarkets and wine caves popular with travellers... but if you are a resident you benefit too! There are many shopping areas in the city, with all types of shops ranging from small and friendly antique and craft shops to the big stores. Le Havre also hosts street markets in the traditional French style... the tourist office can supply details of these, giving times, locations and days.

Day to day life in Le Havre

Le Havre is said to be one of the friendliest cities in France, and offers a warm welcome to all. Certainly the city provides well for visitors, with well maintained beaches, children's playgrounds, cafés, bars and picnic areas. There are also some excellent sporting opportunities in Le Havre, so if you enjoy sea sports and have ever fancied trying your hand at something like scuba diving or sailing, Le Havre can provide. Windsurfers should head for Point de la Hèvre where the conditions are perfect for the sport.

How to get there

Reaching Le Havre from the UK is simplicity itself... take a ferry from Portsmouth directly to Le Havre. (From the USA you could, of course, swim the Atlantic!) Should you prefer to fly, however, Paris offers plenty of possibilities with several airlines offering flights from the UK and Ireland. Paris is served by Air France, British Airways, bmi, bmibaby, flybe, easyJet, Jet2, Thomsonfly and Aer Lingus. Finally, you can take a TGV to the city if rail travel is more your bag.

Property prices and availability in and around Le Havre

Prices around Le Havre vary, but in general are cheaper than in Rouen. The port makes Le Havre a very useful base for anyone who needs to make frequent trips to the UK with a vehicle. Property types include historic houses and modern villas, and the countryside around the city also offers the possibility of building your own property on a plot of land... but make sure you have the necessary consent before you buy!

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WHERE IS Le Havre?

Le Havre is located in the north of France, in the very west of the Seine-Maritime department.

Le Havre Property Map


Upper-Normandy Guide

Upper-Normandy Property Map


Seine-Maritime Guide

  Seine-Maritime Map

Population: 190,905

Access: By air: Paris is within reasonable travelling distance and offers plenty of options. By boat: The best way to access Le Havre from the UK is by ferry, as you can sail directly to Le Havre from Portsmouth. By rail: There is a TGV station in the city.

Economy: The economy is driven by the port, which is the largest export port in France. There are also many industries and commercial concerns in the city.

Interesting fact: Le Havre is known as a very "driver friendly" city, with only five per cent of its parking spaces metered!


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