As the locals say, “We’re from somewhere else, we’re from Le Havre”. Le Havre is an atypical city with innovative, airy architecture. In summer, its little seafront has something of California about it... Welcome to LH Beach! Here are some of my favourite places, to help you get the most out of my lovely home town.
Learn to love concrete elegance: Saint-Joseph’s church
Auguste Perret’s masterpiece, built after the war and featuring modern, 100% concrete architecture. Its 6500 stained glass windows put on a spectacular light show. On a foggy night, you might just think you’re in Gotham City.
Taking its time: Le Volcan
The architect Oscar Niemeyer erected this building in 1982. Highly controversial at the time (locals christened it “the yoghurt pot”), it has nevertheless become one of the symbols of the city. I love its curves which almost harmoniously disrupt the straight lines of Perret’s architecture. Le Volcan is home to two concert venues, a wonderful library, a restaurant, and the seagulls.
Where’s that? Place Oscar Niemeyer (you can’t miss it)
Soak in the view: Victor’s chip shop
A stone’s throw from Karel Martens’ iconic painted changing rooms is the most famous truck on LH beach. There’s nothing better than buying a bag of chips and then settling down on the pebbly beach to watch the sea. Just watch out for the seagulls, who are also partial to a chip.
Where’s that? On the beach, next to the skate park.
Pass for a local: Le Funiculaire
My neighbourhood’s favourite cafe. The nice little cafe-bar-brasserie first opened in 1919, and still features its period decor. It has a working class atmosphere and an outdoor terrace. Perfect for people-watching.
Where’s that? 80 rue Maréchal Gallieni, next to the Coty centre.
An arty but cosy diner: La Colombe Niemeyer
With a flash of elegance, its fantastic interior warms the cold concrete architecture. A cosy atmosphere, inventive menu, and attentive service. Perfect for dinner or brunch.
Where’s that? Place Oscar Niemeyer (inside Le Volcan)
Just like grandma used to make: Le Chat bleu
This little house is home to an atypical restaurant come tearoom come bric-a-brac shop come bar by the beach. It often hosts exhibitions, concerts, and readings, and the little terrace with its sea view is a treat in itself. As is the cheesecake. You might even leave with an ornament... or an armchair.
Where’s that? 6 rue du Roi Albert.
How about a midnight dip? La Petite Rade
The place to enjoy a drink with a panoramic sea view. The atmosphere is laid back, so there’s no rush. Order a drink from the bar and make yourself at home. Menu of tapas and great burgers.
Where’s that? 3 chemin de la mer, at the end of the promenade des régates.
Shopping as local as it comes: LOHO
A range of products 100% MADE IN NORMANDY. Part of the shop is a grocery store, stocking delicious rillettes, preserves, and beer, and the rest is dedicated to local makers with pictures, photos, jewellery, and more besides.
Where’s that? 165 rue de Paris, opposite Le Volcan.
- Not ready for bed? La Taverne Paillette (open 7 days a week, last orders midnight)
- Go back to school at Les Enfants Sages restaurant with its lovely country garden
- Make a vegan smile: take them to eat at the Casse noisette (at bottom of the funicular)
- Drink something that’s not cider: L’Escapade wine bar (on the Boulevard de la Plage)
- Join the Le Havre fan club and wear the local streetwear brand from LH Original - 78 rue Bernardin de St Pierre
- Get out and about: hire folding or electric bikes from Lia
- Get in on the local music scene: my friends are in Aloha Orchestra, an electro-pop group from LH
Born in Le Havre, Marygribouille is a 30-something and an illustrator. She offers a glimpse of her beloved hometown in her photos and drawings.