Le Havre

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In northern France’s Normandy region, you will find Le Havre, which is a major port situated where the Seine river meets the English Channel. Le Havre is joined to the city across the estuary, Honfleur, by the Pont de Normandie cable stayed bridge.

The city centre was famously redesigned by Auguste Perret the Belgium architect, following World War II where Le Havre was heavily damaged. Today many landmark examples of reinforced concrete architecture are featured.

Le Havre began as a fishing village until 1517 when Francis I had a harbour built there named Havre-de-Grace, which meant Haven of Grace.
In the 17th century, it was enlarged and fortified under the Cardinal de Richelieu and Louis XIV and in the late 18th century under Louis XVI, it was adapted to accommodate bigger vessels.
Le Havre was further improved under Napolean III in the mid 19th century. The Belgium government was transferred here for a short time during World War 11 after the fall of Antwerp and Ostend to the Germans.

During World War III almost three quarters of Le Havre’s buildings were destroyed but were subsequently rebuilt. One of the most spacious public squares in Europe is the Place d l’Hotel de Ville.

The 16th- 17th century church of Notre Dame is one of the few surviving old buildings, although it was later restored in the 1970’s.
An unusual reinforced concrete edifice is the church of Saint-Joseph. The art museum (1961) houses a collection that includes works by the 19th century painter Eugene Boudin and the 20th century artist Raoul Dufy. These were saved from the old museum which was destroyed in 1944.

Since the early 1970’s the port which was rebuilt after World War II has been expanded extensively since the early 1970’s. After Marseille, Le Havre is the second part of France and acts as an outport for Paris which is a seaward terminal for deep-draft vessels. In 1976 a deep-water oil port was opened at Antifer, to the north of Le Havre.

The existing port went through restructuring, creating specialised facilities for dry bulks and containers.

The majority of the traffic is imports, principally crude oil. Other port functions include ship repair and ferry services to England and Ireland. Linked directly to the port is a large industrial zone. It’s the site of oil-refining, chemical, automotive, petrochemical, cement and of aeronautical-component industries.

Together these activities represent a major concentration of employment in the lower Seine Valley.

Administrative and service functions have also developed which included a university and a growing tourist trade partly based on the yachting harbour and adjacent resort of Sainte – Adresse.

Modern day Le Havre remains deeply influenced by its employment and maritime traditions.

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