Sailing into Le Havre on a ferry crossing from Portsmouth International Port, you are likely to be struck by two sights – the soaring Pont de Normandie bridge and the rigid blocks of modernist architecture that line the quaysides.
Close at hand are Le Havre’s beaches, just five minutes from the city centre and stretching for more than a mile.
There are many tempting seafront bars and restaurants.
The whole of Normandy is easily accessible on great roads, and the port is an excellent gateway to the rest of France: Lyon can be reached in 6 hours and you are 10 hours from the Riviera.
You are just 2 hours from Paris on the A13 motorway, as Le Havre is the closest port to the French capital.
The beautiful historic port of Honfleur is half an hour away, a fantastic venue for crèpes (pancakes) or moules et frites (mussels and chips) in bustling waterfront cafés.
The 350ft octagonal bell tower of St. Joseph’s Church, a post-war monolith, is one of the tallest in France. It symbolises the rebirth of Le Havre after the devastation of WWII.
The city’s coat of arms features a silver salamander on a blazing background.
Le Havre was originally named Franciscopolis after King Francis I (clearly not a modest monarch), who founded the city in 1517.
The city was the inspiration for a board game called Le Havre, invented in 2007, in which players compete to build ships and trade goods such as wood and fish on the wharves.