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mistybleu Le Havre - A travel report by Amanda
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Le Havre,  France - flag France -  Haute-Normandie
15235 readers

mistybleu's travel reports

En route to Paris

  17 votes
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From Portsmouth in England to Le Havre, it's only a five-hour ferry ride to the busiest port in France and whilst Le Havre itself is not much to talk about, the people are genuine and helpful and it’s a great place to brush up on your French.

Every day life
Every day life
Le Havre is the second largest ocean port in France and sits on an estuary of the River Seine; it is only 174km north-west of Paris and located in Seine-Maritime, Haute Normandy region.

Its origins dates back to the 15th Century when it was a fishing village; King Francis I created a port which he then called the Haven of Grace or ‘Havre-de-Grâce’.

By 1944, towards the end of World War II, 3/4 of the buildings were destroyed by the time the Canadian allied forces recapture Le Havre. Nowadays, it is a large commercial port and a thriving industrial centre with a little ‘old’ mixed into a lot of ‘new’, but it has a softer side as it boasts of being awarded the ‘Pavillon bleu label’ for its beaches. There is a 600m promenade which facilities a pleasant stroll or cycle during the warm days and as you meander up the coast to Sainte-Adresse you can see views of where Claude Monet painted many of his early works.

Le Harve is a nice place to visit but its better to go on to say - Honfleur, a relaxing traditional picturesque fishing village is just minutes away. Or Rouen, the capital of Normandy which is 55 miles south. The town has some superb museums and churches and on Sunday's there is a large flea market. Either place is perfect for enjoying the ambience of Normandy.

Favourite spots:
Hotel de Ville
Hotel de Ville
This was my first cycling holiday or as I like to describe it as ‘petit vacance’.

Whilst in the town is not much to do. It was wonderful to cycle up the coast to next town. The views are wonderful and it’s so nice the have the carefree existence.

What's really great:
Everyday life
Everyday life
With an aim to improve my spoken French, popping across the channel is a great way to experience and enjoy the French lifestyle; from the purchasing bread, to going to the market, or going into a patisserie. Stopping someone at the corner of the road and just taking to them can be a really rewarding experience.

The Cathedral
The Cathedral
I found only a few places of interest:

The Graville Priory XI-XIIIth century - 1 rue Elisée Reclus - Tel: 02 35 47 14 01
The Graville priory consists of a Roman church (with a 23 carat gold altarpiece) and a Gothic-style convent buildings. It houses a large collection of religious art pieces.

Church of Saint Joseph was dedicated to the city, for all the people (some 80,000) who were displaced but all he air raids.

Fine Arts Malraux Museum - 2 Boulevard Clémenceau - Tel:

Musée des Beaux-Arts André Malraux houses an art collection spanning five centuries, including paintings by Claude Monet.

The "Volcan", cultural centre was built by a Brazillian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Hotel Le Petit Valet
Hotel Le Petit Valet
There are many hotels dotted around the city, a lot of them are not that nice and even if they advertise themselves is a 3*, I would question that.

The area has more of a en route feel, with people overnighting here before they got the ferry. But I found this really lovely hotel it’s was 3* but it was well look after.

It was a family run operation and everyone seemed very pleasant. They also offer great rates. Not the price of a hostel but a good accommodation. It was quite centrally located, with many restaurants and other hotels on the same street.

Le Havre travelogue picture
There are not sights as per say. It’s great to walk along the esplanade, and experience one of the fantastic restaurant and bars.

I went out of season but the pubs around seemed quite nice. I ended up Sticky Fingers which was nice. I had a few drinks before retiring early after a long day cycling.

(Rue Victor Hugo, Le Havre, Phone: +

La Taverne Paillette
La Taverne Paillette
The best place to eat in Le Havre is La Taverne Paillette. There has been a tavern and/or restaurant located on this spot since 1596. Hence it draws crowds, both locals and tourists.

It is better to pre-book, but even if you have to wait at the bar, it's worth it. They serve a nice selection of traditional Normandy food and drink, including mussels and Choucroute Spéciale Paillette. This Choucroute Spéciale Paillette is their speciality, which is cabbage, potatoes and meat (usually pork). The portions are quite large so its best not to fill up with bread and leave room for the desert....

They serve an incredible wonderful seafood platter with the freshest oysters I'd seen in a while.

Other recommendations:
Along the coast
Along the coast
If you are a historian, this is a magical place; you could almost feel the allies coming to rescue the area. All along the coastline, you can hear stories of World War II, of house being destroyed, lives being lost and heroitic stories.

Whilst it was not the site of the main Normandy landings, it still plays a roll in the events of D-day 1944 and October 1914 when Belgium troops were formed at Sainte Adresse.

While cycling around, I marvelled at this church, and was curious why the Belgium flag flew outside; as passerby informed me that this was more than a church, it was a sanctury were many Belgium were kept safe from the waring fractions (in 1914, I believe).

Published on Wednesday March 29th, 2006

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Mon, Sep 25 2006 - 10:59 AM rating by mrscanada

Thank you so much for remember the Canadians in this review. They were the first military that Britian sent in and most of them died preparing the way for the others.

Sat, Apr 01 2006 - 06:04 AM rating by bootlegga

As always, fantastic!

Fri, Mar 31 2006 - 12:18 PM rating by sajjanka


Fri, Mar 31 2006 - 08:11 AM rating by eirekay

Amanda, Wonderful report on a great "Petit Vacance"! I like the idea of cycling between villages! Nicely done!

Fri, Mar 31 2006 - 05:30 AM rating by gloriajames

Another nice report from you amanda!
So is the cyclist in the pic u? (";)

Thu, Mar 30 2006 - 08:51 AM rating by isaacmolina

Amanda, your reports, Kerrie’s and Gloriajames’s are my weakness. I will still today grant you 5 points for this one, although according to the strict rules that will be stipulated to apply in the near future, this report is not yet perfect. Please, have a look at the current Guidelines: Report Writing forum started by marianne.

Wed, Mar 29 2006 - 10:43 PM rating by marianne

This is well-written and a joyto read. It is so difficult to write about places that have no major sights.
Is that the same cyclist in both photos?

Wed, Mar 29 2006 - 03:49 PM rating by downundergal

Well done, it is difficult to write about some of the places that you visit "enroute" to somewhere more interesting. Although the town lacked the sights to write about you still managed to create an interesting report nonetheless and most importantly include the details a fellow traveller might need.

Wed, Mar 29 2006 - 01:30 PM rating by jorgesanchez

All your reports are a delight to read. This one is not exception. Thanks

Wed, Mar 29 2006 - 12:37 PM rating by rangutan

Well written and presented 4*report? No, it is challenging to write about a common and regular travellers "hub", in this case just a port, where we dont stay very long. When I got to read about the oysters, backing up the mention of Honfleur fishing village that bit of 5th star was secured :-)

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