Le Havre is a port city in the north-west of France. It is the capital of the Seine-Maritime department. Le Havre is the most populous city in Normandy. Its city center as well as its harbor attached to it has a particular history. It was King Francis I who built the city and its port around 1517. The port was a theater of war of religion and Franco-English conflicts, and it was able to take a new lease from the end of the eighteenth century through trade international. Le Havre was completely destroyed during the Second World War. The city was bombed by the German army led by General Rommel.
The tragedy of the liberation of the city by the Allied troops
The Liberation in 1944 by allied led to a wave of joy in almost all French cities after four long years of occupation. The celebration of the Liberation is an occasion to commemorate a happy memory. However, it is a city where the memory of the first days of September does not evoke good memories but rather destruction: Le Havre. This city is a martyrdom of the struggle against the Nazis. Much of the city was destroyed by Allied bombing. Jean-Baptiste Gastinne, a historian and assistant to the mayor of Le Havre, explains: "We know why 1.5 million poilus fell during the First World War. The sacrifice of the city of Le Havre had a real military utility." As everywhere in France, the Havrais waited for this liberation at the beginning of September 1944.
A hundred days earlier, they saw and heard the landing not far from their town, on other Normandy beaches. They were hoping for days, the day of liberation. While Paris is liberated in late August, Le Havre remains occupied. The Allied offensive finally began on September 5 with a deluge of bombs on the city center. The bombing continued the following day with the dropping of thousands of tons of explosives on the city, including the great phosphorous bombs. The bombardment lasted until September 10th. 10,000 houses are destroyed, 2,000 Havrais have perished and 80,000 are left homeless.
The English aviation ravaged the city without knowing the reasons. The port of Le Havre was considered by the Allies as a strategic stake. This port was in bad condition because it has been regularly bombed since the beginning of the war, it had become unusable. A German garrison of 12,000 men was based in the city of Le Havre. Located on the heights, this garrison meant to resist the attacks of the Allies. The headquarters were housed in cosy villas on the "coast", far from the city center. For the historian Jean-Baptiste Gastinne "the bombing of the central districts during the first two days is incomprehensible, the Allies had all the information at their disposal.” The historian tries to explain that "since the D-Day, the politicians have no control over operations, the military has all power of decision." The British probably wanted to go quickly to take over the city.
On September 12, the Anglo-Canadian troops entered Le Havre. Contrary to what was happening in the rest of France, the reception of these troops has nothing to do with the scenes of jubilation: it was icy. The press nicknamed these troops "liberators." According to the deputy mayor, "the lack of justification for the destruction of their city has always been difficult to understand for the Havre". The Havre habitants will have no collective memory of these tragic events. Rebuilt by Auguste Perret, the city center is classified World Heritage of Humanity and becomes a source of pride for the Havrais.
Presentation of the reconstructed downtown of Le Havre
Once it was rebuilt in 1964, the city center was transformed into a chic 150-hectare neighborhood. Its architecture is distinguished by the integration of reinforced concrete, the favorite material of Auguste Perret. Some think that cement would give a kind of coldness and impersonal impersonality to the city. Why not! Thanks to the genius of the architect who managed to arrange the whole city into a coherent whole of form that respects the regularity of the lines. It is a unique place in the world to admire the symmetry and proportionality of buildings in such a vast space. The strictly spaced posts of 6.24 m on which the buildings rest are the perfect examples. The area has been recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO since 2005.
What to visit in downtown Le Havre?
The visit of the witness apartment is to be entered in his travel diary. It is a step backwards to understand the architecture of Perret and imagine the life of the Havre during the glorious 30 (economic growth of 1946 in 1975). This apartment keeps the furniture of the year 1950 in their original state. Visitors can then follow a stroll through the heart of the city without forgetting to make a detour in the Havre's Suspended Gardens, a picturesque setting with a view of the sea. There are also plant species that dress the place.
The Museum of Modern Art André Malraux
The Museum of Modern Art or Mu-Ma André Malraux is a post-war building located by the sea in Le Havre city. It is built according to a guiding idea. It is a building that favors light and natural lighting. Its modern architecture is detached from other French museums, often installed in castles or historic buildings. It is presented as the most modern in Europe. Inaugurated in 1961, the MuMa was erected to replace the Museum of Fine Arts of Le Havre, destroyed by the bombing of the Second World War. The entrance to the museum is enhanced by the monumental sculpture called Le Signal, the work of Henri Georges Adam.
The André Malraux Museum has the second richest collection of impressionist paintings after Orsay museum. This important collection of European paintings from the 17th to the 20th centuries includes works of Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Boudin, Pissaro and Millet, Courbet, Delacroix and others.
Deauville airport is one of the gateways to stay in this famous seaside resort of Normandy. It is located in Saint-Gatien-des-Bois, a commune in the bucolic landscape of Normandy. The tourists are directly connected to Paris from Orly airport and they can start visiting Normandy tourist sites from Deauville to finish in Le Havre and its port before returning by car to the capital. Travelers, foreign or national, can also land in Paris-Orly then take a car to Le Havre and finish the tour of the region in Deauville. The local airport has international departures to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Madrid, Prague and Rome.
Places to visit in Deauville and around its airport
The town of Saint-Gatien-des-Bois offers a stretch of rural landscape in the style of small feudal towns. Among them are the dovecot of the Herbigny farm and the chalet of Jean Ulric Guttinguer, French poet and novelist. Once in the town of Deauville, visitors will enjoy the most beautiful seaside resort of the Côte Fleurie. This city is famous for its American Film Festival, its horse shows and its nautical activities. The walk is not to be outdone with this opportunity to taste the local art of living.
How to get from Orly to Le Havre by car
From Orly airport to Le Havre, the journey takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. The route is approximately 211.8 km. Once in the car, you have to reach the O.L.S. Number 1 at 230 m and continue on 350 m. It is then appropriate to take the West Avenue on the right. On 450 m, the driver of the van will continue straight on the Paris Avenue. By driving for a few minutes, take the RN7 to the right and drive for 1 km. By taking Rungis, you have to drive 500 m to enter Thiais. Join the A86 (Ile-de-France surrounding) and continue on 15.1 km to reach the Fresnes and Antony tunnels. A13 / E5 (Normandie highway) is less than 7 km away. From there, the driver will continue on 140 km and take the A131 / E5 on the right. Continuing on 19 km, you have to go through Gonfreville-l'Orcher. After 1.2 km of road, the car will reach the entrance to Le Havre. You must continue straight on the Quai George V. Just drive to the right of the Général Archinard Avenue and take the Strasbourg Boulevard to the left.