Le Havre – The Harbour
The harbour of Le Havre is France’s second largest, second after Marseilles, and the biggest in France for containers (and Europe’s 5th largest). Every day you can see many big cargo ships arrive or depart from this port.
In fact, there are two main harbours; the “historical one” and “Port 2000“. The first one is used primarily for the petrol/oil industry, the latter for containers.
Apart from daily oil tankers and massive container ships, you will see almost daily enormous cruise ships, ranging from the Queen Mary 2 to small school cruise ships. Most of these ships arrive early in the morning and leave at sunset.
Le Havre is also becoming the main area for the assembly and dispatch of off-shore windmills. You can regularly see special boats coming and going that put off-shore windmills into the sea.
The harbour that sees mostly container ships is called “Port 2000” because the building of the harbour started in the year 2000. The biggest container ships in the world dock here, the biggest is some 400 meters long.
The mega container ship can carry some 18,000 containers. These containers are colour coded for their content. For example, white containers are refrigerated containers containing food.
Le Havre has a very active fishing fleet. Apart from coastal fishing boats, they also have long distance trawlers. Fish are brought in by these boats and the biggest portion goes into trucks that head for the Paris “Les Halles” market. But a portion gets sold in stalls located close by.
Each stall in the fish market belongs to a fishing boat.
Pleasure Boat Marina
Le Havre has two big pleasure boat marinas located next to each other. The harbour is accessible day and night, no matter the tide. The harbours can accommodate up to 1040 boats with a maximum depth of 3 meters and a length of 18 meters.
TIP: Contact the pleasure boat harbour master via telephone on 02.35.21.23.95 or via VHF canal 09.
A third pleasure boat harbour is also available, called “Port Vauban”, but this one is located inside the city. You will be required to pass through lock and a low bridge. Both open to boats twice a day. The trip from the main harbour entrance to the Port Vauban harbour takes about 40 minutes.
The docks are no longer used as docks. All the warehouses that were present there have been transformed into a high-end shopping mall, conference/theatre, exhibition centre and swimming pool.
The Docks shopping centre/mall is nicely designed but not that big. Choices are slightly upmarket and there are some not-so-bad restaurants. Outside you can even waterski.
For the people who like boats and their harbours, Le havre is a great place. You are able to see most of it from anywhere along the water front. There is also a boat tour (with several daily sailings) of the two commercial boat harbours.