Films and TV programs, large container ships from all over the world and cruise ships, water sports and sailing enthusiasts, architects and trendy places all participate in the revival of Le Havre.
This audacious city has managed to bring about other perspectives and to find its modern sea-focused style, of a city that rises from its ashes, responds to the challenges it faces and envisions its future. Student and port city, Le Havre is also a place where you must take time to stroll, linger around, climb to admire the quaint little streets on the hillside, the quays and their second life, and stunning and breathtaking panoramic views over the city, the port and Norman coast. By the way, in how many cities in France can you have lunch on the beach for 6 months every year?
While walking along the Avenue Foch in Le Havre and looking at the impressive surrounding architecture, you may wonder what happened here and who designed this neighbourhood with such a strong identity.
In the aftermath the Second World War, Le Havre was the most destroyed city in France: 5 000 deaths, 80 000 homeless people… the city had to be rebuilt, and quick. The French Government then asked Auguste Perret to be in charge of the reconstruction project. Perret, a specialist in reinforced concrete and nicknamed the "concrete poet", thinks big for the maritime city. He was inspired by the former city plan, each site, each street returns to its original location. He lined up buildings based on the same grid model, the much talked about 6.14 number, one single number used everywhere: between two columns, for the size of the windows, the width of the streets … everything is a multiple of 6.14. The Rue de Paris recalls the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, and what can we say about the Avenue Foch, which is larger than the Champs Elysées and links the town hall to the sea. A highlight: Saint-Joseph Church. The concrete cathedral, Perret's masterpiece, who died before the end of the construction, watches over the maritime city like a spiritual lighthouse. Take time to visit this building, a simple sun beam will reveal the beauty of the place and of its lantern tower made of 12,000 stained-glass windows.
Listed in 2005 a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Perret's architecture, which used to be criticised, now has the wind in its sails. Wasn't it Auguste Perret himself who said that concrete is a material "more beautiful and nobler than natural stone". Anyway, with this audacious reconstruction and architecture, Perret has given Le Havre its former glory back.
The signature LH
I love LH, is one of the slogans of the city rebuilt by Perret.
These two letters come up again and again in the mouth of people from all over Le Havre. Just like Los Angeles and its renowned L.A., Le Havre can now rely on its LH, so much that a brand was created by Alix Chesnel and his "mates ": LH Original.
LH stands for Le Havre of course. T-shirts, home accessories, coffee 100% made in Le Havre. Since 2010 this brand has met success and has given a new image to the city while making its inhabitants proud.