Le Havre – Tips
|Calais||A16, A28 and A29||2:45 hours||via Paris
|Dieppe||N27,A29||1:30 hour||via Rouen:
|Cherbourg||N13 and the A13||2:20 hours||via Caen and Rouen:
|Marseilles||via Paris: A7, A6 and A13||9:15 hours||Direct TGV:
Ferry: From Southampton and Portsmouth direct to Le Havre, or from Newhaven to Dieppe and then the A29 to Le Havre.
Air: There is an airport, but there are no scheduled flights anymore, just charters.
Within Le Havre
Within Le Havre, there is a good public transportation system, including a modern and recent electric tram.The main tram line runs via the railway station up to the beach (its end point). You can buy tickets at the automats placed close to the tram stops. The cheapest ticket is valid for 1 hour and will cost €1.80.
TIP: If you reuse a ticket, the price will be €1.50. For the hour, you can take any public transportation.
The lower part of Le Havre is excellent for cycling. There are many bicycle paths around the city centre, ports and beach.
There is also a cute funicular in service that brings you to the top of Le Havre. The funicular is France’s oldest public transportation which is still being used. From there it’s a 10 minute walk to the Jardins Suspendu.
Like with most big cities, parking can be a problem. However, Le Havre seems to have a reasonable amount of parking space spread around the city. The parking meters can be fed using your smartphone or via SMS. The system is very fair, and you can even extend your parking time remotely, and if you leave early, you are reimbursed.
Like anywhere in France, food can be found almost on any corner. Since Le Havre is an international harbour, you can find almost any kind of ethnic type food. Most can be found around the port area.
During the summer, the beach promenade is the place to eat since there are many different type restaurants, and the view can not be beaten.
The city centre is also the place to eat. Le Havre also has one 2-Michelin star restaurant, Jean-Luc Tartarin.
Obviously the sea is a good place to swim, and despite being close to the shipping lanes and industry, the water is very clean (they have a label given to places with clean water). BUT, the water is very cold.
There are 2 big public swimming pools; at the Docks there is a very big pool with some 4 basins, slides and other entertainment for kids. The municipal swimming pool is close to the railway station, and the building itself is a “must see”. It’s a cross between art deco and the USSR-style.
Things To See
- The St. Joseph church is a real “need-to-see” item. It’s unique and a special place.Click here to read our article about it.
- The city centre, which is the area that got bombed out of existence during the 2nd World War and rebuilt in the 50’s by Auguste Perret. A walk between the city parked by the triangle Avenue Foch (with it’s park), Rue de Paris (the former, and current, shopping street) and Boulevard Francois 1re.
- The modern art museum Andre Malraux is a must for anyone interested in an extensive Impressionist collection (Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Rodin) housed in an even more impressive building. Like everything in Le Havre, the building design took centre stage. In this museum, light is natural and there is a lot of space.Click here to read more about the museum.
- Oscar Niemeyer’s concert hall, called the Volcano and its very well designed and laid out public library.
- Inside the city centre is one of the show apartments of Perret, a model flat showing you how people lived in those days, and how the architect envisaged the living space. All furniture inside is “as was” during the 50’s. In French it’s called “Appartement Temoigne“. You will need to go to the “Maison de Patrimoine” at 181 rue de Paris, but make sure visits are open, since it’s not everyday and it does change. Telephone: 02 35 22 31 22.
- The Jardin Suspendu (Hanging Gardens) is an interesting area on the Northern part of Le Havre. It is a large old fort that has been converted into a park. You can walk on the walls of the fort while surrounded by exotic plants and trees. In the middle of the fortress are several greenhouses that each have a speciality (like the Amazon rainforest, including carnivore plants). A must-see for those who like plants. If you are on foot, you can take the funicular to the top and walk 10 minutes.Click here to read more about the Jardins Suspendu.
- The “Maison de l’Armateur”, the ship owner’s house. A very interesting house built in the 1700’s with an unusual architecture. The house itself is interesting, and the organisers regularly display roving exhibits. Click here to read more about the Maison de l’Armateur (Ship Owner’s House)
- Visit the small, but tastefully done shopping centre inside the old docks buildings. The old warehouses have been converted in a more upmarket shopping mall called the Docks Vauban. They are located just across the foot bridge from the railway station.
- For those interested in the harbours, there is an interesting 90 minute boat tour that takes you through the ports, explaining the functioning, the types of boats and the history. Unfortunately, the guided tour is in French.
Click here to the touring timetable.
- There is a tourist train that leaves from in front of the Tourist Office, although it’s multi-lingual, it does not bring much information or pleasure to the table.
- For people who like a brisk walk, there is a nice walking path, starting almost directly at the Ferry Terminal, alongside the marina, beach and St. Adresse city. The promenade stops under the cliffs close to the airport. You are advised not to continue since the cliffs are often crumbling down, and you can get buried under tons of rock. The whole path is about 5 km/3.1 miles.
- Play/gamble at the casino in the city centre
- Every 2 years, the famous Le Havre-Brazil yacht race departs with much fanfare. The race village is open and free to the public, you can get real close top the yachts. A multitude of events are performed during the week before the start.