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Le Havre, a city open to the world, has always lived through its port activity, and its exceptional natural light has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the Impressionists.  Since that time, the city has evolved and is now open to the estuary. The refurbished warehouses on the docks host a shopping and leisure centre. Jean Nouvel has designed Les Bains des Docks there, a state-of-the art swimming complex with multiple pools, inspired by the ancient Roman baths. Its unique architecture provides panoramic views on the docks and the city rebuilt by Auguste Perret, now listed as a World Heritage site.

Discover the multiple faces of the Maritime City on the tourist information website.

(photo credit : Patrice Le Bris)

From the city of King Francis to the maritime city

In the Middle Ages, the Seine estuary was under the hegemony of the Harfleur and Honfleur harbours. Their silting-up and the territorial and commercial ambitions of King Francis I of France have fostered the emergence of the port city of Le Havre, which became a royal city in the 16th century. In the 18th century, the enrichment of shipowners - thanks to colonial trade - was key to an unprecedented economic prosperity. This economic growth incited Louis XVI of France to commission the construction of a new city in the north.

In 1852, Napoléon III decided to address the overpopulation issue by commissioning the demolition of the ramparts, the construction of large avenues, and by annexing surrounding villages. Le Havre became a large industrial city with a harbour devoted to the trade of raw materials (cotton, coffee beans, spices, tropical wood...) and passenger traffic, with the rise of transatlantic cruises.

Le Havre changed again after 1944. The reconstruction of the city centre – over a surface area of 150 hectares – was assigned to Auguste Perret, a major 20th century architect and genuine « concrete poet ». Original and creative, Perret succeeded in combining classicism with modernity to reinvent a unique city centre whose architecture is clear, airy, harmonious and resolutely innovative. In July 2005, Le Havre's reconstructed city centre was listed as a World Heritage site.

Boasting a strong maritime heritage, Le Havre stands as a testimony to urban architecture, illustrated by the works of famous architects, such as Bellarmato, Thibault, Lamandé, Perret, Niemeyer, as well as Reichen & Robert and Jean Nouvel…

Le Havre in pictures

6781024Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/webpatrice_le_bris_4_0.jpgPhoto : Patrice Le Bris
7221024Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/webpatrice_le_bris_5_0.jpgPhoto : Patrice Le Bris
6781024Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/webpatrice_le_bris_11_0.jpgPhoto : Patrice Le Bris
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0089_1.jpg?itok=aCE2ZqdZPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0117_0.jpg?itok=0k38219iPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0120_0.jpg?itok=YAlR_A_vPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/expo_plage_-_cotah_7_0.jpg?itok=bsZm3sVPPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
15002000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/cathedrale1_0.jpg?itok=CkxW6U06Photo : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
15002000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/cathedrale5_0.jpg?itok=MuNCD_X5Photo : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
14942000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/img_0220_0.jpg?itok=NcRxgbPhPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0054_1.jpg?itok=u810EXtgPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0240.jpg?itok=n5SWEIL6Photo : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
13392000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0227.jpg?itok=OK9veBm5Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
640960Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/muma_accueifloriankleinefennl.jpgPhoto : Florian Kleinefenn
640960Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/muma_image_de_fondfloriankleinefenn.jpgPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
15452000Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/styles/exposition/public/multimedia/dsc_0026.jpg?itok=UdXPCB5qPhoto : Office de tourisme de l'agglomération havraise
6811024Zoom http://www.museum-lehavre.fr/sites/default/files/multimedia/weble_havre_vue_nuitch.maunder.jpgPhoto : H. Maunder

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