xmas tree

Le Havre (76 Seine-Maritime, Normandie) offers a variety of diversions over the Christmas season, the highlight of which is probably the Christmas Market in the square in front of Notre Dame Cathedral from 1 December 2023 – 7 January 2024. But there is also a Christmas Exhibition, decorations and parades. see www.lehavre.fr

Brittany Ferries runs a budget ferry service from Portsmouth to Le Havre (76 Seine-Maritime, Normandy) and also sails to Caen 60 miles/100km to the west
See www.lehavretourisme.com for more info on Le Havre

By Train TGV TGV with Rail Europe

After serious destruction during the WW2 bombings, Le Havre has risen from the ashes to become a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site for its post-war architecture.

With just 2% of the city left standing and the port completely destroyed, Le Havre underwent a huge renovation process designed by architect August Perret, known as the ‘concrete poet’. Perret’s unusual designs, using concrete to rebuild the city quickly, have made the city centre a World Heritage site recognised by UNESCO.

The most striking example of Perret’s architecture is the concrete Eglise St Joseph, shaped like a lighthouse, with 12,768 pieces of coloured glass inside the 107m high octagonal lantern tower where the colours reflected differ throughout the day due to the placement of the sun. Built to commemorate the victims of the Allied bombings in 1944, it is an architectural masterpiece of the 20th century and is well worth visiting. The 16th century cathedral is one of the few buildings left of that era that survived the bombing although it did suffer damage. At the Appartement Témoin, a show apartment from the 1950s, you can discover what life was like in the 50s at the birth of consumerism and mass-production.

Le Havre also has some great museums with a Natural History Museum and the arts museum, MuMa, the Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux, which contains some of the greatest French Impressionist paintings by artists such as Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas and many more. Why not enjoy the beauty that inspired the Impressionists by visiting the 2km beach of sand and pebbles where you can do lots of water sports from the beach including surfing, windsurfing, sea-fishing and swimming? Volleyball courts, a skatepark and other amenities are all near the beach. English language guides are also available from the Tourist Office so you can take your own sightseeing tour of the city.

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