In this page, we look at some of the attractions and places of interest in central Le Havre. They are all within walking distance (sometimes long walking distance) of each other and of the port.
St. Joseph's Church
The center of Le Havre was devastated by Allied bombing leading up to the D-Day invasion in 1944. Following the war, a decision was made not to try and re-build the city as it had been but rather to create a new city center. Belgian architect Auguste Perret designed a modernist city making extensive use to reinforced concrete.
The centerpiece of Perret's city is St. Joseph's Church. Its 107 meter (351 foot) tower is visible throughout the city. The tower is self-supporting and thus essentially hollow. Inside are 12,800 panes of stained glass by Marguerite Hure.
While St. Joseph's is the most spectacular church (indeed, building) in Le Havre, it is not the cathedral. That honor went to Notre Dame when the city was given a bishop in 1974.
Notre Dame dates back to the 1500s when King Francis I founded Le Havre. It has been expanded and added to over the years and is a combination of Gothic and Baroque styles.
One of the cathedral's treasures is the grand organ, which was donated by Cardinal de Richelieu.
Although damaged during the bombing in 1944, Notre Dame is the oldest building to have survived.
The Shipowner's Mansion
The late 18th century Maison de L'Armateur is a townhouse that gives a glimpse of how a wealthy familyd in 18th and 19th century Le Havre.
Built by architect Paul-Michel Thibault as his holiday home, it was subsequently purchased by the shipowner and trader Pierre-Martin Fouche, who had it embellished with carvings and sculpting.
Miraculously, the townhouse survived the 1944 bombing. It was acquired in 1950 and became a municipal museum.
The museum presents 18th and 19th century artwork and furniture in a series of restored rooms. An interesting feature of the building is that its five-stories are built around an interior light well.
Natural History Museum
Le Harve's Natural History Museum first opened in 1881 in an 18th century building that had been the law courts. Damaged in the 1944 bombing, the museum did not reopen until 1973 after an extensive refurbishment and restoration.
The museum presents exhibits on paleontology, zoology and mineralogy. Part of the collection was gathered by Charles Alexandre Leseur who traveled to Australia in the early 19th century. He brought back some 100,000 specimens and produced some 6,000 drawings and manuscripts.
For more about cruising to Northern France:
NORTHERN FRANCE INDEX
THE D-DAY BEACHES
GIVERNY AND ROUEN
THE ALABASTER COAST
HONFLEUR, DEAUVILLE AND MONT SAINT MICHEL
Cruise ports - Northern France - Le Havre - Attractions - page one