Le Havre

Le Havre

[luh hah-vruh, -ver; Fr. luh a-vruh]
Havre, Le, city (1990 pop. 195,932), Seine-Maritime dept., N France, in Normandy, at the mouth of the Seine River on the English Channel. It was founded in 1517 as Le Havre-de-Grâce by Francis I. Le Havre became a major seaport in the 19th cent. and is now the second-most-important port in France after Marseilles. It was a major port for transatlantic travel until the advent of widespread commercial air travel in the 1970s. Among the city's industries are oil refining and the manufacture of automobiles, cement, synthetic rubber, and fertilizers. During World War II the British bombed the city to prevent its use by the Germans for an invasion of England.

Le Havre is a city in the northwest region of France situated on the right bank of the mouth of the Seine River as it outlets into the Bay of the Seine section of the English Channel. It is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department and the Haute-Normandie region. The inhabitants of the city are called Havrais or Havraises. It is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region and the largest sub-prefecture in France. It is also a bishop's see.

Le Havre is also used in the sense of "port". The city was first called Franciscopolis, in homage to King Francis I, who took the initiative to construct the city, in addition to Le Havre (or Le Hable) de Grâce, the latter term being derived from the chapel Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, which existed on the site before the city's founding.

The city was also dubbed the Porte Océane, or Door to the Ocean. Architecturally, this image has been revived through the "door" that forms the frame at either end of Fochs Avenue, which comes out of the sea. In population, Le Havre ranks second of the French ports, first of the cities in Normandy, and ranks second in the metro areas of Haute-Normandie.

Le Havre was honored with the Legion of Honor award on July 18, 1949.

UNESCO declared the city center of Le Havre a World Heritage Site on July 15, 2005, in honoring the "innovative utilization of concrete's potential." The 133-hectare space that represents, according to UNESCO, "an exceptional example of architecture and town planning of the post-war era," is one of the rare contemporary World Heritage Sites in Europe.

Le Havre was once synonymous with urban coldness and grayness. The city's inhabitants have done much to change this, and it has been marked by improvement since then. The city is spoken of now as the Brasilia of France. .

Le Havre's home port code is LH.


Le Havre is a subprefecture, the largest in France, and the administrative center of the district bordering the Sainte-Adresse commune.


Le Havre is situated in the southwest of the Pays de Caux region. The city is surrounded by the seashore of the English Channel to the west, the mouth of the Seine to the south, and the coast to the north. The Seine has, for a long time, marked a natural border between Haute-Normandie and Basse-Normandie. Thus, the city of Honfleur is, in the expression of the Havrais, "on the other coast." In order to face the city's relative enclosure, the city's connections have multiplied : the most prestigious connection is the Pont de Normandie, which connects the two banks of the Seine, and reduces traveling time between Honfleur and Le Havre to less than a quarter-hour.


Le Havre is naturally separated into two areas by a cliff. The ville basse, or low city, is composed of the port, the city center, and the peripheral regions. It was constructed upon the ancient marshlands which were drained in the 16th century. The soil is composed of alluvium deposited by the river Seine. The city center, reconstructed after World War II, lies on approximately a meter (3.3 ft) of flattened rubble. The ville haute, or high city, is composed of wealthy, average and unfavorable residential suburbs (Mont-Gaillard, Caucriauville, and Mare-Rouge). The north-west region of the high city (Sainte-Adresse and Dollemard) is the highest in altitude (between 90 and 115 meters.) The cape of La Hève is situated at an altitude of approximately 100 meters.


Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °C (°F) 6
Avg low temperature °C (°F) 3


Le Havre is a commune and a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Maritime département. Le Havre is the largest commune in both the Haute-Normandie region and the Seine-Maritime department, yet is the capital or préfecture of neither, both honors belonging to Rouen. (The only other city in metropolitan France in a similar situation is the city of Reims.) In its support, Rouen does have many more large suburbs than does Le Havre, making its metropolitan area much more populous than Le Havre's.

The current mayor of Le Havre is Antoine Rufenacht.


The population of the Le Havre commune had 190,905 inhabitants in 1999, which makes it the 12th most populated city in France and the most populated in Haute-Normandie. It has seen a drop in population, particularly from 1975 to 1982; during these years of industrial crisis the population fell by 18,494. During the 1980s the population continued to decrease, though less rapidly. Le Havre's city limit had a population of 248,547 in 1999 (25th in France) and the urban area had a population of 296,773. With 20% of the population less than 20 years old, the city of Le Havre is relatively young, even though the population is shrinking. The foreign-born population is estimated at 8,208, 4.3% of the population, with a tendency to diminish, as well. Due to the economic changes that had affected the city, the CSP greatly evolved in the 1980s; between 1982 and 1999, the number of blue-collar workers decreased by a third (10,593). At the same time, the number of office workers and professionals has increased by 24.5%, which partly explains the creation and development of the University of Le Havre.


The city was founded in 1517, when it was named Franciscopolis after Francis I of France, and subsequently named Le Havre-de-Grâce ("Harbor of Grace"; hence Havre de Grace, Maryland). Le Havre simply means the harbour or the port. Its construction was ordered to replace the ancient harbours of Honfleur and Harfleur whose utility had decreased due to silting. The history of the city is inextricably linked to its harbour. In the 18th century, as trade from the West Indies was added to that of France and Europe, Le Havre began to grow. On 19 November 1793, the city changed its name to Hâvre de Marat and later Hâvre-Marat in honor of the recently deceased Jean-Paul Marat, who was seen as a martyr of the French Revolution. By early 1795, however, Marat's memory had become somewhat tarnished, and on January 13, 1795, Hâvre-Marat changed its name once more to simply Le Havre, its modern name.

During the 19th century, it became an industrial centre. The German-seized city was devastated during the Battle of Normandy in World War II: 5,000 people were killed and 12,000 homes were totally destroyed, mainly by British air attacks. Despite this, Le Havre became the location of one of the biggest Replacement Depots, or "Repple Depples" in the European Theatre of operations in WWII. Thousands of American replacement troops poured through the city before being deployed to combat operations. After the war, the center was rebuilt in modernist style by Auguste Perret. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Main sights

Le Havre was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Many historic buildings were lost as a result.


  • Cathedral : the first stone of the building was laid in 1536. It is the seat of the Bishop of Le Havre.
  • Church of St. Joseph, one of the most recognized symbols of the city. The belltower is one of the tallest in France, rising to a height of 106 metres. It was designed by Auguste Perret.
  • Church of St. Michel
  • Church of St. Vincent [Eglise St. Vincent:
  • Church of St. François [Eglise St. François:
  • Church of St. Anne [Eglise St. Anne:
  • Church of St. Marie
  • St. Michel d'Ingouville chapel (15th century) [St. Michel Chapel:
  • Graville Abbey, a monastery dedicated to Sainte Honorine, set in grounds on the northern bank of the Seine River.
  • Presbyterian Reform Church (Eglise Réformée), 47 rue Anatole France, build in 1857, bombed in 1941, the roof and ceiling was rebuilt in 1953 by two architects of the famous Auguste Perret office: Jacques Lamy and Gérard Dupasquier, Only one building in the town offering the both: ancient and new Perret school architectures in the same building. Holy Office each Sunday morning at 10.30.'''



  • The Shipowner home (18th century)
  • The former tribunal (18th century)
  • The town Hall : the modern belfry contains offices
  • The "Volcan", cultural center built by Oscar Niemeyer
  • Square St. Roch
  • Japanese Garden


Le Havre has well developed national road, rail and air links (Octeville airport) and is two hours by train from Paris. Local transport is based primarily on an extensive bus network. The city has plans for a tram network. A ferry service to Portsmouth in the United Kingdom runs from the Terminal de la Citadelle. The service is operated by LD Lines.

Twin towns

Sister cities/Twin towns include:


Le Havre was the birthplace of:

External links


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