What to visit in Le Havre?
Updated: Mar 18
Like an impressionist painting, we seek to capture the sensorial impressions of visiting this city. Home of the great master Claude Monet (father of Impressionism), he described Le Havre as the best place to spend the whole day outdoors: kissed by the sun, enjoying the calm of the sea, running on the rocks, or splashing in the water as himself did when he was a little child. Its light and its magical atmosphere have inspired several masterpieces of the greatest artists of French Impressionism. Did you know that the canvas, to which we attribute the birth of the artistic movement, represents a morning glimpse on the port of Le Havre? Follow our pictorial lines to discern at first coup d'œil the wonders of this destination.
What not to miss
One of the symbols of the city is definitely its cathedral of which interiors are what most impress visitors. However, the characteristic Normandy charm is surely returned by the abbey of Graville that dominates the landscape diving us inside an artistic atmosphere in medieval style.
If you would like to admire, meditate and feel the wind of the coast in purely bucolic scenery we recommend you visit the hanging gardens: thematic gardens and the collection greenhouses will allow you to walk around breathing the fragrances emanated from aromatic plants and varieties of flowers. Don't miss getting lost in “Les Jardins Suspendus”, surrounded by colorful plants.
Le Havre has made its mark on the international scene as a city of contemporary culture. In this regard, it is possible to admire some contemporary art installations such as "La
Catène" close to the port or “le Volcan” adjacent to Saint Joseph.
It might sound wired but there is a volcano in the middle of the city. Don't worry, it is not dangerous. This is a cultural center located in the center of the city. Opened in 1982, today Le Volcan is one of the most important national stages in France. The place gathers many art events related to music, theatre, dance, circus, and digital arts. We suggest seeing it at sunset. What a magical view!
For true fans of this artistic current, the Modern art museum dedicated to the writer André Malraux is the cornerstone to spend a charming cultural adventure with a lively collection of the best artists of Impressionism and Fauvism (Monet, Dufy, Friesz, Braque, Dubuffet, and many other). The equally fascinating thing is the breathtaking coastal setting of the museum. It seems to be in a floating bubble on the surface of the water, irradiated by the sunlight.
Moreover, the art gallery is essential, so the visit will not take so much time, and if you want to take a break, a restaurant inside is there for you.
What to visit?
Museum of the Hôtel Dubocage de Bléville:
Meticulous and interesting is the Museum of the Hôtel Dubocage de Bléville, a touching testimony of the past of Le Havre, discovering the ancient maritime transport used for the major products of the colonies. Our advice is to take a step in this museum especially if you have children with you. Entry is free!
Parc de Rouelles:
It is a great place where locals enjoy the city afternoons chilling under the shadow of the trees. The park is spread on 160 hectares, including 259 tree varieties from 36 families. For those that enjoy walking, there is 20 km of paths going through the park. It will take you a while if you want to reach every spot of the park.
Maison de l'armateur:
Museum or also known as House of the Ship-owner in English links the tourists to the appearance of the city from the 19th century. The building has a very interesting history. The original owner was a shipowner, merchant, and a member of parliament – Jean Ango. The townhouse was a witness to many events that happened in the city, including the devastation in 1944. Nowadays, is one of the main attractions in Le Havre and tells a story about the old days and the ordinary life of citizens during many centuries. The interior decoration has been preserved over time; we can still see an interesting collection of furniture, paintings, and sculptures from the 18th century.
Le Havre Beach:
What is a city on the coast without a beautiful beach, where you can enjoy your time? Moreover, the beach of Le Havre has a blue flag. The cost of the city offers 2 km of sandy beach, where are located many bars and restaurants with local tasty food. There are many activities that visitors can enjoy like fishing, snorkeling. For the panoramic view lovers, there is a big wheel, which offers an amazing view of the city and the ocean. The beach has a children's area where you can play volleyball or badminton with your family or friends.
City Hall tower:
If you're not afraid of heights, the guided tour to the 17th floor of the City Hall tower is a must! Get involved in the magnificent panorama!
How to get there?
The city of Le Havre is located on the coast of Normandy. There is easy access from Paris by train which takes 2h. If you prefer to go by car from Paris, it will take 2 hours as well through A13. The Le Havre train station is 20 minutes from the city center by foot or easily connected via the tram.
Like most of the cities in Normandy and Brittany, Le Havre can be reached from the UK by ferry. The fastest way is getting to the coastal city of Portsmouth and then catching the ferry directly to Le Havre. The journey from London to Portsmouth takes about 90 minutes by train. The travel time from Portsmouth to Le Havre is about three hours and 45 minutes.
The city is small and walking there is pleasant. If you want to visit more places for a short time, we recommend you rent a bike. The le Havre Airport is located 5 km from the city.
The costs in the city are average for the country. The average accommodation costs from 36 EUR in the hostel to 71 EUR in a 3-star hotel. The price per night in a luxury hotel in Le Havre is about 213 EUR. A meal in a budget restaurant is between 15 and 20 EUR. Our recommendations for budget restaurants are La Petite Rade and Le Nuage dans la Tasse. A meal in a mid-range restaurant around 30 EUR. In Le Havre there are 4 restaurants with Michelin star in the city: Le Bouche à Oreille (29-50 EUR); Le Margote; (34-45 EUR) La Tablée (37-77 EUR) Jean-Luc Tartarin (48-135 EUR). Le Havre is good for walking city but if you want to take the public transportation, a one-way ticket costs 1.80.
When to travel there:
Le Havre has a great location that allowed a long touristic season. The best time of the year to travel there is from May to October (Be careful the summer holidays in France are from the beginning of July to the end of August, so it is likely to be more crowded during these two months). The coastal climate offers very pleasant weather during the summer - not very hot with a warm breeze from the ocean. However, it can rain at any time of year, so waterproofs are advisable.
What to eat
Savoring the typical dishes of a specific city is one of the crucial things we like to do for us, tourists. Visiting places with full bellies is better, right? For this reason, we would like to suggest the “Trou Normand” a specialty that has strong Norman roots, this is an appel sorbet with calvados to have more space in your stomach to continue eating. Moreover, you must try the tart of Pont-l’Evêque. Stuffed with one of the cheeses which honor Normandy, fresh cream, and a little Calvados to spice up. To find out more, check the article “Food in Normandy” on our blog.
Events not to miss
For those who love outdoor festivals, we can recommend you some musical events such as Dixie Days related to jazz music and international artists and takes place in the middle of May.
Ouest Park Festival
The Ouest Park Festival is scheduled for early October and covers several genres such as Rock, House, Reggae, Folk, Rap, Electro, and Techno into an intimate party atmosphere, together with games and experiences.
In the middle of July, is the music of all around the world is the protagonist.
The event takes place at the hanging gardens where emerging artists perform. An explosion of multiculturalism will animate your nights.
Festival de la Mer
In September, is a traditional festival of the city with a program full of surprises, entertainment, and activities in the Saint-François district, the historic hub of the Porte Océane.
Un été au Havre
Every year in September, prominent contemporary artists are invited on-site to design through their creativity and imagination, a work that represents the city. Public installations, art trails, and exhibitions are at the heart of this event.
Ad hoc festival
In December, discover theatrical shows, seminars, art exhibitions workshops to share with your family, specially dedicated to the little ones.
This was our short guide for Le Havre. Traveling through the city of culture-rich of attractive dynamism and with its own modern style. The peculiar alley, the beautiful views, the fascinating architecture will make you exclaim "I love LH" the renowned slogan of the city. Check also our article about visiting Caen and the one about visiting Mont Saint Michel, two important cities in Normandy!