Le Havre and its port. Here is the first mission of this maritime city.
In 1517, King Francis I decided to build a port at the mouth of the River Seine. Jehan Ango, the famous shipowner from Dieppe, is said to have given him the idea. Due to the silting up of the ports of Harfleur and Honfleur, Francis I wanted to set up a large Channel port located ahead of Rouen in the Seine estuary: it will be Le Havre de Grâce ("Harbour of Grace").
First a commercial port, then a military port with Cardinal Richelieu, it would make the wealth of the city. Ships coming from India, the New World all arrived in Le Havre and brought back with them new products: cotton, coffee…
But Le Havre would reach its peak in the 20th century with the very famous transatlantic crossings and prestigious transatlantic liners, which are still remembered today: SS Normandie, SS Ile de France, and quite simply SS France.
Le Havre – New-York, a legendary crossing that every influential person of the time has made, the invitation to travel, the appeal of the New World and of the American dream. The development of aviation will accelerate the decline sea crossings. The decommissioning of the ocean liner SS France in 1974 marked the end of the transatlantic crossings. Moored at what is known as the "quai de l’oubli" (Pier of the Forgotten), the ocean liner definitely left its home port in 1979.
History repeats itself and once again, Le Havre would succeed in recovering and becoming the 1st container port in France and 5th one in Europe. The largest container ships in the world sail past the most beautiful and luxurious cruise ships in the port. Cruises have replaced the transatlantic crossings and Le Havre has naturally become the first cruise port along the Channel and the Atlantic Coast.
A container port, an oil port, a cruise port, a fishing port, ferry crossings between Le Havre and Portsmouth and a marina with 2017 moorings in the near future, a symbolic number to celebrate the city's 500th anniversary in 2017.
Le Havre is undoubtedly the only city in France to have so many assets that allow it to be the maritime city.