If you are travelling to Le Havre with www.AFerry.co.uk aboard Brittany Ferries, you may like to stop a while in town before heading to your destination as this year, Le Havre is celebrating 500 years of history. The “Summer in Le Havre” festivities will take place from 27th May to 5th November 2017.
Le Havre was founded in 1517 by François I who reigned over France at the same time as Henry VIII. This was a time of great rivalry with the British and their historical “summit” as allies in Calais is now known as the legendary “Field of the Cloth of Gold”. It became a trade port in the 18th century and was a popular choice for those emigrating to America in the 19th century. The city became known for its trade in coffee and cotton and semi-traditionally roasted coffee with the label ‘made in Le Havre’ can still be bought in the city’s shops today. Le Havre is now France’s second largest port in France after Marseille and the first largest in Europe as well as being Normandy’s largest city.
A Phoenix Rising from the WW2 Ashes:
Almost completely destroyed in WWII – only 2% was still standing making it the worst hit city in Europe – the French Government made it a priority to build one of the most interesting post-war architectural cities in the world. By choosing Auguste Perret, a modern architect with a big vision and who was a concrete pioneer (sometimes known as the concrete poet), to create the new Le Havre, we now enjoy a a bright and vibrant city with clean lines and vistas, plenty of open space, trees and fountains and a grand boulevard that opens the city up to the sea. It became a UESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
Here’s a brief summary of the 500th anniversary celebrations:
- Opening ceremony with Art Point M Collective, 27th May 2017
- Pierre and Gilles, 27th May – 20th August 2017 (MuMa)
- French Lines, 27th May – 8th October 2017 (MuMa)
- Royal de Luxe street parade, 6th – 9th July 2017 – the return of the Royal de Luxe theatre company and their giant puppets
- Impression, Sunrise, 9th September – 8th October 2017 (MuMa) / Le Havre is often cited as the birthplace of Impressionism and it was in this city that Monet painted the image that became the name for the movement – Impression, Sunrise. This painting will return to the city as one of the highlights of the exhibit.
- Closing Ceremony, 8th October 2017
- Follow in the footsteps of the Impressionists and explore Le Havre with the Impressionism Art in Le Havre downloadable app – listen to anecdotes about the artists and the city.
Maritime Heritage Remembered:
- Christening of The MSC Meraviglia, 4th June 2017 – as Le Havre will be the first port of call for this new jewel of the MSC Cruises fleet, the city’s coat of arms will feature on the ship
- Final Stage of the Tall Ships Regatta, 31st August – 3rd September 2017 – Rendezvous 2017 will stop over in Le Havre for its final stage with 40 of the largest heritage ships in the world.
- Luxury Transatlantic Cruise to NYC on Queen Mary 2, 14th – 22nd September 2017 – This magnificent liner will embark on an eight-night transatlantic cruise, setting off from Le Havre.
- Jacques Vabre Transatlantic Race, 27th October – 5th November 2017 – Since the first race in 1993 along the historic coffee trading route between Le Havre and Cartagena, the legendary race will depart Le Havre to end in Salvador De Bahia in Brazil.
- The iconic 107m high Saint Joseph’s Church, the tallest building in Le Havre, was built to symbolise Le Havre’s rebirth as well as being Perret’s official monument to the people of Le Havre who died during the bombings.
- The Perret Show Flat – to help understand the man and post-war modernism
- Notre-Dame Cathedral – the oldest of the very few buildings to have survived WWII, originally built in 1522.
- Le Volcan – Le Havre’s arts centre and theatre designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, built in 1982
- The Ship Owner’s House – a mansion designed in the 18th century by Paul-Michel Thibault in the style of Louis XVI.
- Hanging Gardens – Le Havre is one of the greenest cities in France with 96 parks, gardens and squares covering almost 2,000 acres. The Hanging Gardens opened in 2008 in the 19th century Napoleonic fort with gardens on the four bastions of the fortress.
- The innovative installations on the Place Saint-François – the fish market square in the heart of the neighbourhood will be reinvented by arts as part of a 4-month art installation.
- The Gare Maritime – the old ferry terminal will be open throughout the summer with a daily arts programme, bars and restaurants.
Ferry prices: Book online with AFerry.co.uk for the best deals. Ferry prices are currently listed at £60* return with Brittany Ferries – subject to availability and fluid pricing.
Photo credit thanks to: Sue Lowry / Cunard France / Les Grandes Voiles du Havre / Serge Koutchinsky / Karel Martens / Pierre et Gilles / Lang Baumann / Julien Berthier / Collection French Lines / Vincent Ganivet / Erik Levilly / Normandy Tourism
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*All quoted fares in this newsletter were correct at the time of going to press but are subject to change.