With its post-war and communist-style architecture, Le Havre is usually not on most people’s list of places to visit, but this summer the Norman resort is all the craze.
…and it is not because its mayor, Edouard Philippe, has recently been named France’s new Prime Minister.
Founded by King Francis I in 1517, the city is celebrating its half millennium with a 6-month long calendar of events, un été au Havre (a summer in Le Havre) that kicked off on the 27th of May with a massive street party, and runs until the 5th of November. A good occasion to show the world how the city has managed to reinvent itself after being severely bombed at the end of the Second World War, thanks to the incredible work of visionary architect Auguste Perret.
Because the city was one of France’s most important maritime ports, its reconstruction became a national priority, and Perret decided to rebuild the devastated city centre in concrete, to give both stability and uniformity to the various structures. Each city block was designed to provide maximum sunlight, balconies often running the length of the buildings, and open residential blocks were created.
If Le Havre’s city centre was very controversial and misunderstood, this all changed in 2015 when it was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since then, the city has become a diverse and vibrant hub for artists, hosting biannual modern art exhibitions, as well as a destination for foodies and sport lovers, thanks in part to its renovated waterfront.
Among the many events planned for this summer, there will be some free shows by the Nantes-based Royal de Luxe street theatre company and their giant puppets in July, as well as the display at the André Malraux Modern Art Museum (MuMa) of Claude Monet’s masterpiece “Impression, Sunrise”, which was created from a scene in the port of Le Havre, while, in August, 40 of the world’s largest heritage ships will be stopping over.