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Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritimemarker department of the Haute-Normandiemarker region in Francemarker. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seinemarker on the English Channelmarker. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total population of the greater Le Havre conurbation is smaller than that of Rouenmarker's. It is also the second largest subprefecture in France (after Reimsmarker). Its port is the second busiest in France (after that of Marseillemarker). Since 1974 it has been the see of the diocese of Le Havre.

Le Havre was originally named Franciscopolis after King Francis I, who founded the city in 1517. A chapel known as Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ("Our Lady of Grace") existed at the site before the city was established, and the denomination lent its name to the port, to be called Le Havre (or Le Hable) de Grâce ("the harbor of grace"). The shortened name Le Havre, as used in modern times, simply translates as "the port" or "the harbor".

While under German occupation, the city was devastated in 1944 during the Battle of Normandymarker in World War II; 5,000 people were killed and 12,000 homes destroyed, mainly by British air attacks. After the war, the center was rebuilt in the modernist style by Auguste Perret. Le Havre was honored with the Legion of Honor award on 18 July 1949. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Le Havre was once synonymous with urban gloom and greyness. The city's inhabitants have done much to change this; as a result of substantial improvements, Le Havre is now spoken of as the Brasiliamarker of France. .

Le Havre's home port code is LH.


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


Le Havre is situated in the southwest of the Pays de Cauxmarker region. The city is bordered by the seashore of the English Channelmarker to the west, the mouth of the Seine to the south, and the coast to the north. Historically, the Seine marked a natural boundary between Haute-Normandiemarker and Basse-Normandiemarker; the city of Honfleurmarker has often been referred to by the Havrais as being "on the other coast." As a port city on an exposed marshy coast, Le Havre has long suffered from poor land links. New road connections have been built since; among the most notable is the Pont de Normandiemarker, which connects the two banks of the Seine and reduces traveling time between Honfleur and Le Havre to less than 15 minutes.


Le Havre is naturally separated into two areas by a cliff.
  • The ville basse, or lower city, comprises the port, the city center, and the peripheral regions. It was constructed on 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, stands on approximately a meter (3.3 ft) of flattened rubble.
  • The ville haute, or upper city, is composed of wealthy residential suburbs (Mont-Gaillard, Caucriauville, and Mare-Rouge). The north-west region of the upper city (Sainte-Adressemarker and Dollemard) is the highest in altitude (between 90 and 115 meters.)

A road tunnel and funicular railway ease transport between the lower and upper cities.


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


The population of the Le Havre commune had 190,905 inhabitants in 1999, which makes it the 12th most populous city in Francemarker and the most populous in Haute-Normandiemarker (although the total population of the greater Le Havre conurbation is smaller than that of Rouenmarker's). 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, also with a tendency to diminish. 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 increased by 24.5%, which partly explains the creation and development of the University of Le Havremarker.


View of the beach of Le Havre and a part of the rebuilt city
The name Le Havre simply means the harbour or the port. Le Havre was founded as a new port by royal command, partly to replace the historic harbors of Harfleurmarker and Honfleurmarker which had become increasingly impractical due to silting-up. 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") after an existing chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ("our Lady of grace").

In the 18th century, Le Havre began to grow, as trade from the West Indiesmarker was added to that of France and Europe. In 1759 the city was the staging point for a planned French invasion of Britain - thousands of troops, horses and ships being assembled there - only for many of the barges to be destroyed in the Raid on Le Havre and the invasion to be abandoned following the naval defeat at Quiberonmarker.

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, the town's name became simply Le Havre.

During the 19th century, it became an industrial centre.

The German-occupied city was devastated during the Battle of Normandymarker 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 centre was rebuilt in modernist style by Auguste Perret. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. UNESCOmarker declared the city center of Le Havre a World Heritage Site on 15 July 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.


Main sights

An old house in Le Havre.
Musée des Beaux-Arts André Malraux, Le Havre.
Downtown Le Havre.
The Abbey of Graville, Le Havre
Le Havre/Seine/Honfleur.
Le Havre was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Many historic buildings were lost as a result.


  • Le Havre Cathedralmarker : the first stone of the building was laid in 1536. It is the seat of the Bishop of Le Havre.
  • Church of St. Josephmarker, 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:['Ingouville%20au%20Havre.JPG]
  • Graville Abbey, a monastery dedicated to Sainte Honorine, set in grounds on the northern bank of the Seine Rivermarker.
  • Presbyterian Reform Church (Eglise Réformée), 47 rue Anatole France, built 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 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 airportmarker) and is two hours by train from Paris, with services running to the Gare du Havremarker. Local transport is based primarily on an extensive bus network. The city has plans for a tram network. A ferry service to Portsmouthmarker in the United Kingdommarker runs from the Terminal de la Citadelle. The service is operated by LD Lines.


The town is home to the Le Havre AC football team, who as of 2009-10 play in Ligue 2, the 2nd tier of French football.

Twin towns

Le Havre is twinned, or has a sister city relationship with:


Le Havre was the birthplace of:




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