Le Havre is a maritime city, a sea resort and a large port. Its economic development and landscapes are connected to the presence of water, and that of the port.
The ever present port
The Greater maritime Port of Le Havre (linked to the other ports on the Seine through the HAROPA (HAvre, ROuen, PAris) organization) is a symbol of the international fame associated with Le Havre for commerce and maritime transport. Although the present time maritime traffic no longer uses the historic docks situated at the heart of the city, cargo and container ships can still be seen, gigantic visitors moving regularly along the channel, close to the beach or further away. Still close to the city, cruise ships dock at Quai de Floride, on a straight line from the Rue de Paris. Thus passengers have the same view of the city centre passengers of the great liners of the past used to get. Once docked, they have a view over the Southern Sea Front, one of the most emblematic architectural sites of the reconstruction.
Port Center, situated in an old ferry terminal, is used to promote, explain and interpret the maritime environment, which can feel so close and unapproachable at the same time.
Development of the Grand Quai
Symbolic of the relation between city and port, the development project for Quai de Southampton, deals with the quay lining the reconstructed southern sea front, facing the Pointe de Floride (Florida Quay) and the entrance of the harbour, along the Manche dock.
Originally named Grand Quai (the large quay), it used to welcome boats of all sizes since the sixteenth century, under the protection of the Tour François 1er (François 1er Tower). Immortalised by Monet’s painting “Impression Soleil Levant” (Impression Sunrise), but also by Pissaro, Boudin or Saint-Délys, this view of the outer harbour changed along with successive urban evolutions and notably the one introduced by Auguste Perret, the Southern Sea Front with its two monumental towers built after WWII.
As the arrival place of all visitors coming by sea, the future development of the quay is designed around a long promenade linking the beach to the docks, the impressionist collections of the Muma to the latest innovations of port activities, as presented at Port Center. (Internet link to the Port Center site)
The City Council and the Greater Port Authorities have entrusted landscape gardener Michel Desvigne, in association with architect Inessa Hansch, light designer AIK (Yann Kersalé) and technical Studies Agency Artelia with the commission to realize this vast project.
The stakes are high: giving this vast 12 hectare surface new attractiveness and room for strollers to contemplate the great view over the reconstructed city and the entrance to the harbour.
Before the project takes form, let’s meet in 2017 on this site where events to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the city will be held.
Reclaiming the docks
Large and greatly present but difficult to access, the historic docks (Commerce, Roy and Notre-Dame) are under study for further development. Giving strollers more room, improving access for bicycles on the quayside, letting all enjoy more sunshine and, why not, using the docks for water activities, all of these ideas are being considered. More to follow pretty soon…