Le Havre, World Heritage Site

The Destroyed Port, seen from Notre-Dame Church, Photo by Francis Fernez.

World War II

The history of the city of Le Havre is remarkable for a series of destructions followed by periods of reconstruction, seen as so many rebirths. In 1517, the progressive silting up of the ports of Harfleur and Honfleur, dating back to the Romans, led to the creation of a new maritime town answering to the territorial, strategic and economic ambitions of French King Francis the First.

Le Havre became a large French town after its fortifications were brought down, giving way to large boulevards, in the middle of the nineteenth century: its fame thereon rests on maritime and industrial activity which soon encroaches over the estuary of the river Seine, while housing expands on the heights of the Plateau of Caux (meaning chalk).

After World War II, the reconstruction represents a major development: due to its innovative character, the modern city built by Auguste Perret opens out to the world, a symbolic, resolutely modern, urban creation.